At a latest occasion, well-known Kathakali singers recalled how they had been influenced by the inimitable Kalamandalam Venmani Haridas
The late Kathakali singer Kalamandalam Venmani Haridas was as soon as performing Melappadam, a musical ensemble that’s typically a prelude to a Kathakali efficiency, in Mumbai. Whereas singing the navabhava phrase in ragamalika, Haridas got here up with a mild gamaka-rich Suddha Dhanyasi alapana. The drum beats turned softer and there was full silence within the auditorium. Tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain, who was seated within the entrance row together with different luminaries of the music world, walked up on to the stage and touched Haridas’ ft.
This episode narrated by Kalamandalam Vinod, who accompanied Haridas that day, was one of many many shared at Harismrithi, a panel dialogue and demonstration on the musical genius of Haridas, who died on September 17, 2005, on the age of 59.
Kathakali vocalist Nedumbally Rammohan, who moderated the dialogue, began by briefly tracing the evolution of Kathakali music from Venkitakrishna Bhagavatar within the early a part of the final century to Unnikrishna Kurup within the Nineteen Eighties. The main target of the dialogue, nevertheless, was the affect of Haridas, and his inventive partnership with Kalamandalam Sankaran Embranthiri and Kalamandalam Hyderali, the trio who dominated Kathakali music for a couple of a long time.
The panellists — Kottakkal Madhu, Kalamandalam Babu Namboothiri, Kalamandalam Hareesh and Kalamandalam Vinod — recalled their expertise as sankidi or vocal help to Haridas. They sang the assorted padams made well-liked by him in dance dramas similar to Kuchelavrittam, Kiratham, Karnasapadham, Dakshayagam and Nalacharitam. In addition they spoke about how Haridas, in addition to singing in Padi and Khandaram, conventionally utilized in Kathakali, launched Carnatic ragas that enhanced the dance viewing expertise. Sadanam Ramakrishnan on the chenda, Kalamandalam Venu on the maddalam and Sadanam Jithin on the idakka supplied percussion help.
Penchant for perfection
Rammohan highlighted Haridas’ penchant for perfection. “He sang ‘Kalayami Sumathe’ in Kuchelavrittam in a ragamalika of Saramati, Bahudari and Amritavarshini. The lighter piece, ‘Enthoru Chitramidam’, in the identical play, was rendered in Kavadichindhu to go well with the scene the place the vriddha or maid is wonderstruck by Kuchela immediately gaining wealth.”
The goal, Harish added, was to make music that suited the story and state of affairs. Haridas may remodel even an insignificant padam particular — for instance ‘Manavendra’ in Uttaraswayamvaram, the place the terrified cowherds enchantment to Prince Uttaran, stood out in his voice.
The image of Haridas that emerged on the session was one in all a prodigious expertise. Although soft-spoken, he was by no means shy of experimenting. A eager listener, he imbibed a lot from his gurus and friends, and from totally different genres of music. He gained publicity in Hindustani music throughout his keep at Mrinalini Sarabhai’s Darpana Academy in Ahmedabad. His singing stood out for its excellent pitch and modulation, its masterly gamakas and the suitable emphasis on phrases to convey applicable feelings.
Babu Namboodiri pointed to Haridas’ experience in utilizing swarakshara, the place the swara and the sahitya converge. Referring to his remedy of ‘Mathale nisamaya’ in Kalakeyavadham, Babu stated Haridas caught to custom when it got here to the extremely stylised and structured performs of Kottayam Thampuran.
In line with Kottakkal Madhu, Haridas entered Kalamandalam throughout the superb period of music and gained immensely by means of his interactions with masters Neelakantan Nambeesan, Gangadharan, Madambi Subramanian Namboodiri, Embranthiri and Hyderali.
Rammohan stated that even at the moment Kathakali organisers give him outdated tapes, requesting him to sing within the ragas utilized by Haridas, an affidavit to how his music lives on.
The programme, organised by Vazhenkada Kunchunair Smaraka Belief and Venmani Haridas Anusmarana Samiti, will be watched on the Belief’s YouTube channel and Fb web page.
The writer, a retired journalist, writes on Kerala’s performing arts.