How does one get immunity from fading popularity? Malladi Brothers know the secret recipe, whose principal ingredients are prudence, simplicity and humility. These terms were mentioned by prominent banker, Uday Kotak, who recently encased this mantra for successful banking today. And that holds for music too.
At their concert, Ramaprasad and Ravikumar kept the fare simple and easily digestible by a variety of audience (including the less initiated). Their prudence was brought out in their proportion slicing. There was a systematic change of flavour with the kritis and manodharma segments, each set in a finite time unit.
Sarasija nabha (Swati Tirunal, Khambodi, Ata) was elegantly rendered, with light punches coming from the sahitya in charanam. There were crisp swarams with good use of swaraksharam and kriti layam, but just to the prudent degree in Sadachaleswaram (Bhoopalam, Dikshitar). Vasudevacharyas Mamahridaye (Ritigowlai) was perhaps too simple to make an impact.
The brothers best piece came in raga alapana of Pantuvarali (Vadera daivamu manasa, Tyagaraja). The raga spans an ocean and there are prudent spoils for everyones style. Malladi brothers gambled with several varjyam phrases dropping especially panchamam, and sailed through the voyage cleverly perhaps the only time they wandered from simplicity. Niraval and swaram at Datru vinuthu had the team of Embar Kannan, Tiruchi Sankaran and Alathur Rajaganesh join and swell the atmosphere to a dazzle.
Replete with bhavam
The brothers take to bhavam like a duck to water. Maragave (Sama, Tyagaraja) was a perfectly chosen and timed piece to cater to the emotional quarters of the audience. So was Sivanai ninainthavar (Hindolam, Sivan), satisfying the Tamil aficionados.
There was more prudence in the raga alapana of Mukhari, staying to a diet course, while Embar Kannan got further in showcasing his manodharmam. Emani ne (Subbaraya Sastri) is as much a gem as Tyagarajas many compositions in Mukhari. Malladi brothers tucked into the kriti poignantly. Their niraval at Samaja Gamini and the swara segment that followed were neatly manicured. Their humility flashed throughout in sharing limelight equally with co-artistes and in nice references to their guru.
In another era, Maharajapuram Santhanam fashioned a similar theme for concerts and the parallel was apparent. Tukkadas, Singara Moritivi (Kamas), Govinda Sundara Mohana (Dwijawanti) and Sarvam Brahma mayam (Jhinjoti) followed the same blueprint and brought a feel good finish, just as Santhanam always did.
Embar Kannan is also a prudence-first violinist, keeping his interventions to short aesthetics and calibrating constantly to the mood and the tide. Tiruchi Sankaran is an invaluable asset to a concert and his strong musical instincts lifted the overall tempo, in a fine collaborative way. In the presence of stalwarts, Alathur Rajaganesh on the ganjira had a lean outing.