Song of Surrender

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Not enough light on the bani

Random Notes

By V Ramnarayan

Writing in The Hindu, musician Lakshmi Sriram described the presentation on the Dhanammal bani during the recent 150th year celebration of the Carnatic music legend as 'hagiographical.' While there were at least two angry responses to the review from those involved in the celebration, it is difficult not to agree with the reviewer, as the voice-over and slides on the occasion were filled with adjectives and not enough insights into what was unique about the bani. (In fact, at least one disinterested member  of the audience found the whole programme including the panel discussion on the final day hagiographic, though in defence of the panel, it could be said that all of them belonged to the sishya parampara and therefore perhaps partisan). It was a weak defence (on Facebook, where the review was shared by the author) to claim that it was a tribute and not an 'expert analysis'. This claim was refuted by the critic as well as another commenter on Facebook, thus proving the efficacy of social media in providing instant feedback  to critic and reader alike.

The presentation could certainly have gained from a greater explanation of the Dhanammal school in terms of its artistic beliefs, preferences, and stylistics, and also from the presence of a live presenter on stage. I believe that Powerpoint presentations are better served by that rather than a recorded voiceover.

Be that as it may, the presentation, though a sincere effort, lacked in comprehensive coverage through audio and video samples, as for example those missing from T Viswanathan's flute playing, or more representative samples of Balasaraswati's dancing than clips from the well known Satyajit Ray documentary.

I missed the Hariharan-Tiruvarur Girish duet on the opening day. Going on till well  beyond the scheduled closing time, the concert is said to have cast a spell on the audience with its spontaneity and creativity. I have already mentioned the high quality of the other recitals I attended. Chitravina N Ravikiran was in his element and gave a perfect performance conforming to the great standards he has set himself. His disciple  Dr Sivakumar played the veena with commendable skill and dignity, while TM Krishna was in superb form. I must add another outstanding performance to this list: S Sowmya's concert on the final day, which was preceded by a thoughtful and witty valedictory address by Yadav Sankaran, son of the eminent T Sankaran. Sowmya presented the best of her learnings fom T Muktha in a beautifully modulated voice in the authentic style of her guru.

A more detailed post on the programme including the lec-dem by Sriram Parasuram and panel discussion involving him, Ravikiran, Anuradha Sriram, Girish and Aniruddha Knight will follow in the near future.


No comments:

Post a Comment