Articles

Raaga Dyuti – A carnatic vocal by Ranjani and Gayatri


A tribute to M.S. Subbulaksmi

 

Anunaad – A musical Resonance


‘Barsaat ki Raat’ enraptures Powai music lovers

By Our Correspondent

Seldom has a cultural programme received such thunderous ovation as the  Powai Fine Arts’ presentation of ‘Barsaat ki Raat’ by Klub Nostalgia. On 4th August 2013, the auditorium of SM Shetty School was overflowing as never before. The talented singers who enthralled the audience were none other than Rana Chatterjee, Sagar Savarkar, Sangeeta and Mona Kamat. Reflecting the different shades of monsoon moods: sometimes romantic, sometimes soulful or sometimes ecstatic, the old film melodies followed one after another to thunderous ovations. Stringing together the evening’s 27 songs, Premkumar’s insightful narration kept the audience in splits. The repertoire covered all the major music composers of the silver screen like Naushad, Madan Mohan and OP Nayyar. Starting with ‘Woh Chand Khila’ from Anari to ‘Diwana Hua Badal’ from Kashmir Ki Kali, the show ended with ‘Aaj Kal Tere Mere Sapne’ from Brahmchari. In between, ‘Zoobie Doobie’ from 3 Idiots rocked the scene!

The program was actively supported by Neelkanth Builders and Indian Oil.  Ranjini Krishnaswami briefed the audience about the role of PFA in bringing performing arts to Powai in spite of all the odds, due to serious absence of a community centre in this relatively young suburb. She also pleaded for more sponsorships, particularly from the local corporates and citizens, to enable PFA to keep bringing good artists to Powai. Mr Venkatchalam of Klub Nostalgia informed about the charitable work they are  doing for differently-abled.

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PFA: Shakthi, a Thriller Play by MAHAM Chennai

Powai Fine Arts presented Shakthi, a thriller play in Tamil, on 17th may 2013, by MAHAM Enterprises, Chennai, headed by Madhuvanthi Arun. This play is the maiden venture of MAHAM, the first directorial venture by Madhuvanthi and her Co-director, Sureshwer. It is also a tribute to her father and grandfather on the completion of sixty years of cultural service through their drama troupe, United Amateur Artists. It is based on the 1950’s classic movie “Wait Until Dark”. The ninety minutes non-stop play on a revolving stage, that depicted authentic 1970’s set up, was staged at the Hiranandani School (New) Playground where the wide open space and natural darkness provided the right ambience.

Going to the theatre involves, for the viewers, a double trip: first, to the stage world of make up, costume and illusion, and thereafter to the imaginary world through which the actors move. On both counts, Shakthi proved to be a grand fare. The set designed by Padmashree Thotta Tharini, music by the Kolaveri-fame director Anirudh, the seasoned back stage support group, all ensured that the first trip firmly held the audience in place. The imaginary world, the play took the audience through, involved Shakthi, the main character, a blind, helpless, fearful but quick thinking woman who emerges powerful as the symbolic Shakthi, the slayer of evil. The play, by its very character, rests solely on shoulders of the main character, Shakthi. Madhuvanti depicted Shakthi with great acumen portraying, her fears, shock, decision to fight off the gangsters, her despair, fear in the face of a death threat, sudden rise to a position of strength by virtue of being blind in a dark house only to revert back to her vulnerable position and the final victory. Madhuvanti lived the role and carried the audience with her. The supporting cast fitted perfectly in their place and enhanced both Shakthi’s role and the overall effect of the play.

 

A third dimension that emerged from the viewer’s side was the emotional connectivity and a nostalgic trip back in time. Many in the audience recalled their experience of watching the classic movie way back in their youth and felt that the play was in many was a kind of reliving of that personal moment.

 

By staging Shakthi, PFA broke new grounds in its quest for enriching the cultural landscape of Powai. It was a proud and defining moment for PFA.

 

Kumuda Vasudevan

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Enriching the cultural landscape

PFA: A Grand Carnatic-Hindustani Jugalbandhi Violin Concert by Dr.Sriram Parasuram

Dr. Sriram Parasuram’s scintillating violin concert presented a jugalbandhi of the two major styles of Indian classical music, under the aegis of Powai Fine Arts on 18th May 2013, at the newly renovated auditorium of the S.M.Shetty School in Powai. He was accompanied on the mridangam by Rajesh Sreenivasan, on the kanjira by N. Y. Easwaran and on the tabla by Viswanath Shirodkar.

The concert began with a traditional varnam in ragam Kanada and concluded with an equally time-honoured mangalam in ragam Sourashtram. However, the organization of the concert was unique and perfect, wherein Sriram rendered Carnatic and Hindustani pieces back-to-back seamlessly with great mastery. His deep involvement and scholarship in the exploration of each aspect, be it the lyrical, the rhythmic or the raga, was in perfect adherence to the said stream of music. Interestingly, the joy he derived from these renditions was palpable and infectious! The spirited accompaniment on mridangam, kanjira and tabla matched up and proved this point. Rightly so, it led Santoor maestro Pandit Satish Vyas not only to applaud Sriram, but also to express his astonishment at the perfection and ease with which he did justice to both systems of Indian Classical Music.

 

Early in the concert Sriram presented alap, jod and a beautiful composition in praise of Lord Shiva by Shree Kumar Gandharva, followed by a kriti couched in a rare raga Sthavaraj  composed by Muthuswamy Deekshithar. Next, he coupled Kalyana vasantham and Jogkauns for a jugalbandhi. The musicologist in the artist came to the fore when Sriram spoke about choosing ragas with similar sensibilities as against choosing only closely corresponding ragas for jugalbandhi. He proved this, to the utter delight of the listeners, by traversing the two ragas with great ease and grace. There was not a dull moment during the concert as Sriram raced ahead with pairing Yamuna kalyani with Misrakalyan, followed by a breathtaking thillana in Desh, paying tributes to great violin maestros and his gurus in the field, and sharing his knowledge through tit bits, small and significant, with the audience. In all, it was a memorable concert!

Kumuda Vasudevan

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Dual Classical Delight


 

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Mera Bharat Mahan Series

PFA: Mera Bharat Mahan

As a part of its endeavour to promote and propagate the rich cultural heritage of India, the Powai Fine Arts conducted three programmes that converged on the theme of Mera Bharat Mahan. A grand carnatic vocal concert by Dr S Sowmya (Chennai) was conducted on Jan 19th.  The “Patriotic Inter-School Song Contest” for children from schools in and around Powai was held on Jan 20th. In the concluding programme of the series, on the same day, PFA felicitated Guru Kalyanasundaram Pillai of the Rajarajeswari Nritya Kala Mandir (Matunga) and conferred the Life Time Achievement Award on him. The programmes held in the Hiranandani School ground received enthusiastic response from the audience.

 

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A Grand Vocal Concert by Dr S Sowmya

The Powai Fine Arts presented a grand carnatic classical vocal concert by Sangeetha Kala Bharati Dr S Sowmya (Chennai), disciple of Sangeetha Kalanidhi Dr S Ramanathan and Guru Smt. T Mukta on 19th January 2013. She was accompanied on the violin by R K Shriramkumar and on the mridangam by Neyveli Narayanan. The concert showcased as to how a confluence of scholarship and immense musical capability can provide an enriching experience for the listeners.

 

As part of its endeavour to nurture young talent, the PFA presented Master Karthic Suresh Iyer, the reigning Carnatic Music Idol (junior), who sang the invocatory piece “Siddhi Vinayakam Seveham” in Mohana Kalyani composed by Sri. Harikesanallur Muththaiah Bhagavathar.

 

Dr Sowmya commenced her recital with a varnam “Karunimpa” in ragam Sahana. This was followed by Saint Thyagaraja’s kriti “Janaki Ramana” in ragam Shuddha Seemanthini. The sangathis, niraval and swaraprastharam were all replete with innovative explorations of finer nuances of the ragam. While flashes of manodharma occurred in scintillating phrases, the singer could at will drop anchor and savour the beauty of a given swaram. The smooth flowing “Shiva Shiva Shiva ena rada”, yet another Thyagaraja kriti in Panthuvarali presented in depth, came next. The singer then presented a rare kriti “Vachamakocharundani” in Atana composed by Mysore Sadashiva Rao. While the Kriti itself, a lyrical marvel, described the entire Mahabharata in three charanams, the short chittai swaram brought out the lilting, typical beauty of Atana. Next came the fast paced “Aadi Kondar” that described the celestial dance of Lord Shiva, composed by Muthuthandavar in ragam Mayamalavagaulai.

 

At this stage in the concert, Dr Sowmya shared her joy of traversing through ragam Narayanagoulai. She elaborated on the closely allied ragams characterised by micro variations of swarams that make up the family of these ragams. “Comprehend the beauty of the ragam,” she exhorted the listeners. In the alapanai that followed, Shriramkumar’s violin followed closely and brought forth the beauty of Narayanagoulai as propounded by the singer. A slow tempo Dikshithar kriti “Sri Ramam Raghukulabdhi Somam” captivated the musical attention of the rasikas. The main fare of the evening’s concert, an elaborate exposition of the ragam Bhairavi came next. The choice of Shyama Sastri composed swarajathi “Kamakshi” was an interesting one. The “thani” that followed was a crisp rendering of perfectly delineated rhythmic ornamentations and explorations by Neyveli Narayanan.

 

Sowmya then moved into realms that are absolute comfort zones for her and ones she has passionately pursued on her musical journey. In this phase, the Kamas raga javali “Modi Jese velara” was followed immediately by a padam “Indendu Vachchedira” composed by Sarangapani in Surutti, and later by a Behag raga kriti “Sri Madhava” by Papanasam Sivan. Just as the sukhanubhavam of these pieces placed the listeners in a state yearning for more, the singer quickly moved on with Subramanya Bharati’s two songs: a thematically relevant “Parukulle nalla Nadu, engal Bharata Nadu” in ragam Jonpuri and a folk genre based kavadi chindu “Villinai ottha puruvam”. The concert concluded with a traditional Mangalam.

Terming the concert as a highly engaging one, Narayan Rangaraj himself a connoisseur and performer of carnatic music said that a combination of well known kritis and rare ones in equal measure, rendering of heavy items too in a manner that appealed to both rasikas in general and serious students of music too, were the highlights of the concert. He also mentioned that it was a highly seasoned team; that the trio – the singer, violinist and the mridangist – enjoyed great rapport was evident in the performance.

 

To sum up, the evening’s concert saw Dr Sowmya lead the listeners through a guided tour showcasing broad beautiful pictures, sharp focus on details, scintillating delineations and share the joy she derived from music with others around her. To cap it all, the variety in the choice and import of kritis and ragams linked the concert to the thematic concern of “Mera Bharat Mahan” as envisioned by the Powai Fine Arts.

Kumuda Vasudevan

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Enriching the Local Cultural Landscape

PFA: Mera Bharat Mahan Series

Patriotic Inter school Song Contest

 

The “Patriotic Inter school Song Contest” conducted by Powai Fine Arts had seven teams, trained and ably assisted by their teachers, compete for the top positions on Jan 20, 2013. The Pawar Public School (chandivili) won the first prize while the Powai English High School (Powai) won the second prize. The team from ABHA, an NGO run educational institution was awarded a special prize of appreciation. Shri Narayan Parasuram and Smt Radha Iyer judged the performance of the teams and gave away the prizes. The palpable energy and enthusiasm of the students, teachers and parents present made Team PFA happy.

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PFA: Mera Bharat Mahan Series

Life time Achievement Award conferred on Guru Kalyanasundaram Pillai

Powai Fine Arts honoured the Doyen of Bharata Natyam, Director of Sri RajaRajeshwari Bharata Nritya Kalamandir, Natya Kalanidhi Guru Sri K.Kalyanasundaram by conferring on him the Life Time Achievement Award. The function was graced by none other than SangeetaMartand, Padmasri, Padmabhushan, Padmavibhushan Sri Pandit Jasraj, who felicitated Guruji. It was great experience to watch two stalwarts share the dais. The programme began with a rendition of Ganapathi Vandan by Sarangi Ambekar, an upcoming Hindustani vocalist.  This was followed by a video on the great achievements and the inspiring life of Guru Sri. K. Kalyanasundaram.

 

Senior disciples of Guru Sri Kalyanasundaram performed, a traditional kavuthwam followed by a Varnam on Sri KrishnaLeela. The episode of Sudhama was well received by the audience. This was part of the Bhakthi Nritya a Bharata Natyam dance ensemble by Guruji’s disciples.

 

This was followed by the felicitation programme. Pandit Jasraj, Music Forum Chairperson, Vice President, Chembur Fine Arts Sri Ganesh Kumar and famous Gazal and film playback singer and a Powaite Sri Hariharan shared the dais along with Smt. Madhura Jasraj and President Powai Fine Arts Sri Swaminathan. The main felicitation to dance guru was preceded by the Presidential address and felicitations to Pandit Jasraj. Guru Sri Kalyansundaram received the award at the hands of Pandit Jasraj amidst loud cheers and appreciation from the well attended gathering. Pandit ji spoke about the close relationship he enjoyed with guruji and in turn guru Kalyansundaram thanked Pandit ji for gracing the occasion. He also thanked Powai Fine Arts for the award and wished PFA a bright future ahead.

 

Bhakthi Nritya continued, where in the artists performed Sri Ramachandra Krupalu Bhajaman, a Saint Tulsidas  composition and Krishna nee begane baro , a Dasara pada. The programme concluded with a vibrant Tillana.  With striking postures, perfect anga shuddham, brilliant coordination, intricate foot variations, the dancers   captivated the audience.

 

The entire programme, a combination and confluence of dance, coming together of renowned personalities, inspiring speeches and awards, was a great treat to watch.

Sailaja Desai

Sowmya’s concert

Nothing short of enthralling carnatic music was what the audience enjoyed on Saturday, the 19 th of January at Powai Fine Arts’ (PFA) two-day Jan Fest organized at Hiranandani Foundation School, Powai.
It was Dr. Sowmya’s vocal expertise along with Shri. Shriramkumar’s finesse on the violin and Shri. Neyveli Narayanan’s fingers on the mridangam that filled the otherwise cold winter air in Powai with some very heart-warming music.

Beginning with the Sahana Varnam, Sowmya set the pace for several more priceless compositions and ragams that followed. Following this was Janaki Ramana in Suddha Seemantini that moved the audience
with a perfect paced alapana, neraval and swaram that a ragam like this one commands. The various shades of Gandharam (G) and Daivatham(D) were highlighted with ease and expertise and was a treat to the listeners.

Next followed an elegant alapana of PantuvaraLi, a ragam so fit for the evening with the lovely Siva Siva Siva ena Radha by Saint Thyagaraja and by Vachamakocha in ATana. Shri. Sriramkumar’s graceful strings was a treat to the listeners. Every composition was given its due importance and devotion by Sowmya with her soulful rendition. Muthuthandavar’s Aadi kondan in MayamaLavagowLa . SriRamam RavikulaSomam by Dikshitar got a well deserved explanation by Sowmya on ragams that share the same
platform, yet minutely differ to bring its shade through.

Then came the evergreen swarajathi Kamakshi Amba in Bhairavi that highlighted the concert. The relaxed and slow-paced alapana, followed by the swaram and sahahityam and then a beautiful neravaL and kalpana swaram were undoubtedly a remarkable performance that met all carnatic music lovers’ expectations. Sowmya just excelled in quality and consistency of rendering each and every kriti.
Shriramkumar’s violin was a great testament to his abilities and Shri Neyveli Narayanan demonstrated his expertise on the mridangam with ease.

The last segment of the concert was devoted to Padam, Javali and kavadi chindu that are Sowmya’s signatures. Then she rendered the patriotic songs in Tamil by Subramanya Bharati to mark the theme “Mera Bharat Mahan” selected by Powai Fine Arts for the concert and was preceded by Papanasan Sivan’s SriMadhava Vasudeva in beautiful Behag.

The evening began with a sweet invocation of Lord Ganesha by the talented young singer Kartik Iyer. Winner of the Carnatic Music Idol last season, he definitely showed all signs of a mature young artiste.

The evening came to a close, however the music kept ringing in and around Powai long after. Congratulations to team PFA for all their efforts to give their audience their best. Having welcomed the New Year in a fitting manner, we look forward to more and more enjoyable music in the coming months at PFA.

Vidhya Kidambi