By Manna Srinivasan
This piece—now presented in edited form—was written a couple of years ago by the late Manna Srinivasan, but not published so far.
In each generation, there are some young artists who are apparently off-beat but compel attention and create a deep impression. They suggest sparks of genius and potential that merit serious analysis with reference to the grasp of the idiom, creative impulses and distinctness of style.
The prolific activitytaking place in the Music Season makes it difficult to keep track of the entire scene. While many may belong to the ‘flash in the pan’ category, we must look for the promising with inspired involvement and commitment.
Abhishek Raghuram fits the bill in many ways. His family lineage credentials are themselves very impressive. With the Lalgudi violin family on the maternal side and the Palghat Raghu mridangam family on the paternal side, his proclivity for melody and rhythm would have been natural. Starting his musical journey with the mridangam, and learning the khanjira from Harishankar, Abhishek shifted to vocal music at the prodding of Raghu himself.
PS Narayanaswamy (PSN) of the Semmangudi school was the preferred choice for solid learning in ‘sampradayam’ that began at the age of 12, enabling the young aspirant to expand his repertoire considerably. With single minded dedication, Abhishek has made rapid progress to become a front ranker in the sub-senior category, while still in his early twenties.
His confidence also reached the necessary level for him to make the crucial decision in 1997 to pursue a full time career in music.
A felicitous voice capable of range, modulation skills, flair for ‘vallinam’ and ‘mellinam’, easy flow and imaginative rendition are among his advantages. His ‘manodharma’ is equally striking in alapana, niraval and kalpana swara. A restless spirit seems to facilitate explorative forays, sometimes ustad-like, dreamy at times, even nonchalant to an extent, adding to the aura.
The fare offered may not always be tightly structured, orderly, step by step and capable of anticipation. Sudden flights, strings of oscillation, even some jerkiness at places, are all part of his ware.
Refreshing in many ways, Abhishek has the capacity to present elaborate ‘alapana’ in ragas like Nasikabhushani, Gamanasramam or Natakapriya for ragam-tanam-pallavi, revealing his calibre.
Clear in his ‘lakshyam’ regarding ‘sruti suddham’, perfection of notes and effective delivery, Abhishek is poised to carve out a niche for himself in the highly competitive field.
His guru’s impressions:
PSN recalls that when Abhishek came to him about 12 years back, he was already accomplished to an extent, equipped with a 5-kattai sruti and 7 or 8 ‘varnam-s’.
He wanted to learn the ‘ata tala’ varnam in Kalyani, which he did in just one sitting and was able to present the very next day, in two speeds also negotiating in ‘tisram’, something rare for a lad so young.
The guru noticed his capacity to absorb knowledge very quickly; he would never forget something that he only heard once. His enthusiasm is irrepressible, facilitating steady progress. Abhishek listens to a great variety of music, without any prejudice regarding any school; at the same time, he he tries not to imitate.
PSN also refers to the commendable personal qualities and temperament of his ward: a positive approach; intense and involved effort; yearning for ‘gnanam’; absence of lack of jealousy or rancour.
PSN is very confident that Abhishek will go far, earning a place of distinction in the music world.