Nithyashri Mahadevan @ Odukkathur Mutt, Bangalore

The number of people who had come to the Odukkathur Swamigal Mutt on Saturday to listen to the day’s concert far outnumbered the ones on any other day. The reason? It was Smt.Nithyashri Mahadevan‘s concert that day. Grand daughter of Smt. D.K.Pattammal (her paternal grandmother), veteran singer and one of the all time greats in the field and Sri Palghat Mani Iyer (her maternal grandfather), who is considered to by many to be the greatest mridangist ever, she has a huge fan following and attracts huge crowds whenever/wherever she sings. Many like her high pitched, loud voice though its a different matter that some others (like a few of my friends) just can’t tolerate her voice. All that apart, her concert on Saturday can, along with that of Sri T.M.Krishna a few days back, considered to be the best concert so far in the Gokulashtami concert series this year.

Smt. Nithyashri Mahadevan was accompanied on the violin by Kum. Akkarai Subhalakshmi, on the mridangam by Sri P. Satish Kumar (who looked almost like Satya Sai Baba) and by Sri A.S.N.Swamy on the khanjira.

The compositions sung were as follows:

1) swAmi nAn (varnam) – nAttaikurinji – Adi – pApanAsam sivan
2) gAnamUrthE – gAnamUrti – Adi – thyAgarAja
3) telisi rAma – pUrnachandrikA – Adi – thyAgarAja
4) bAlakrishnan pAdamalar – danyAsi – rUpakam – pApanAsam sivan
5) thyAgarAja yOga – Anandabhairavi – rUpakam – muthuswAmi dIkshitar
6) sAmAnya vallA – chArukEsi – Adi – purandaradAsa
7) nidhichAla – kalyAni – misra chApu – thyAgarAja
8) chandanamum (viruttam) – karnAtakadEvagAndhAri
kAna Ayiram – karnAtakadEvagAndhAri – Adi – arulavan
9) hari hari (viruttam – pAnchAli sabadam) – hamsAnandi
chakkaram Endi – hamsAnandi – Adi – subramanya bhArati (?)
10) rAgam tAnam pallavi – sAvEri – Adi (2 kalai)
pallavi wordings: “sAvEri rAgapriyE, kAvEri tIra nilayE”
kalpanA swaram in the rAgAs sAvEri, asAvEri, jaya sAvEri, mayUra sAvEri, sudha sAvEri, bhOga sAvEri, simhELa sAvEri, paNA sAvEri and karnAtaka sudha sAvEri
11) bhAgyada lakshmi – bOulI – Adi – purandaradAsa
12) thillAna – dwijAvanti – Adi – kadalUr subramanian (?)
13) pavamAna (mangalam) – sOwrAshtram – Adi – thyAgarAja

Danyasi, kalyAni and sAvEri rAga Alapanas were very well executed. The pallavi in sAvEri was a special one. Though sung primarily in rAgA sAvEri, the kalpanA swarams were sung in rAgAs that had sAvEri as a part of their name viz. sAvEri, asAvEri, jaya sAvEri, mayUra sAvEri, sudha sAvEri, bhOga sAvEri, simhELa sAvEri, paNA sAvEri and karnAtaka sudha SAvEri (I could have made a mistake in one or more of these rAgA names as I am hearing some of them for the first time). Like the mamis assembled there were heard muttering after the concert ended: “sAvEri nu peru vechu ivvalavu rAgam irukku nu ippo thaan theriyum (came to know only now that there are so many rAgAs with the word sAvEri in their name)”. The pallavi line, which was not much complicated when compared to the pallavis sung in earlier concerts in this Gokulashtami series, was structured as follows (A = aksharam): sAvEri started 1A after samam and was for 3A, rAgapriyE started after a gap of 1A and was for 3A. The lagu part of the tAlam thus completed, kAvEri started a further 3.5A after the middle of the tAlam and was for 2.5A, tIra immediately followed and was for 1.5A and nilayE immediately followed tIra, was also for 1.5A and ended 1A after samam at the place where sAvEri started. In all, 3A+1A+3A+3.5A+2.5A+1.5A+1.5A = 16A = total count of one Avartanam of the tAla.

This concert, in my opinion, also had the best violin and mridangam accompaniment so far. Akkarai Subhalakshmi followed Nithyashri really well and also reproduced many of the patterns used by Nithyashri in her kalpana swarams accurately. The highlight of her performance was the raga alapanas which she played in an unhurried fashion, slowly developing each raga, highlighting the different patterns that distinguished a raga very well.

Sri Satish Kumar on the mridangam I would say provided the ideal accompaniment. To be very frank, I am sick of hearing Nithyashri’s father playing the same stale mridangam accompaniment in almost all of her concerts and one of the main reasons I came to hear this concert was because Sri Satish Kumar was playing the mridangam. I had first heard him play for S.Shashank in a flute concert and have been an admirer of his style since then. As I said earlier, I would just sum his mridangam accomaniment by saying that it was the best in this series so far. Sri A.S.N.Swamy on the khanjira also played well.

Today’s concert is by Sri Sanjay Subrahmanyam, who along with Sri T.M. Krishna and Sri T.N.Seshagopalan forms my list of favorite male carnatic singers active in the concert circuit today.

10 thoughts on “Nithyashri Mahadevan @ Odukkathur Mutt, Bangalore

  1. I have heard that Nithyashree is very vibrant on stage. But most of the old iyer mamas don’t like her. I’ve read reviews where the mamas openly shout “kaatukaththal” in the middle of her concert :). I also believe that she reacts to audience leaving when she sings unlike most of the other singers.

  2. hey ram….me was there sitting among the overflowing crowd outside the hall. the kalyani piece was neatly rendered and i was happy to be there. i had to leave while RTP was going on…

  3. KR,

    I haven’t observed her reacting to audience leaving etc till now in the concerts I have attended. In fact it shouldn’t even matter to her as the ones that leave get replaced by the ones standing outside the auditorium/hall very quickly. I think her loud voice is a differentiation factor for her.

    On the lighter side, one of my fiernd had read somewhere on the net long ago something that went like “bombay jayashree monagal, sowmya polambal, nithyashri kathal”.

    Don’t know about thathas but mamis and pattis do seem to enjoy her singing a lot 🙂

  4. No no … love is kaathal. This is kathal (kaththal) which means shouting. Loosely translated (as I am unable to find exact equivalents in english), monagal = mumbling , polambal = whimpering , kathal = shouting. May be someone else can help with more matching english words for the same.

  5. confounding factor Ram! Crowd was there because of the weekend…

    I just don’t understand how people can listen to her voice!

  6. I have seen her pull crowds even on Mondays in concerts I have attended in Delhi. The crowd for her concert was much more than what was there for Kadri Gopalnath and for Mandolin Srinivas who also performed on a weekend at Odukkathur.

    I am also not a very great fan of her high pitched voice. Its just that she sang really well that day. All said, what I have seen is that Nithyashri, Bombay Jayshree, Unnikrishnan and Sudha Raghunathan manage to bring in crowds any day, at most, if not all places they perform.

  7. thanks ram! sounds like a chauvinistic statement…. 🙂
    but yeah, i too had issues with her shouting. later, one of my friends convinced me that she is not all that bad. and then i happened to listen to that bhairavi RTP of her by charsur….and i liked it. i think she is good but may not be up to all the hype coz of her truely distinguished lineage.

  8. I googled a raga from the Saveri RTP , and I reached your blog! Interesting article… Incidentally , I had noted down these very ragas when I heard her sing this in Music academy Atleast 10 or more years ago! I very recently saw my notebook and googled – my notes mention deva saveri and simhika Saveri as the other two ragas , those are the two that differ from your Saveri raga names … Would be wonderful if someone were to bring out a cd or if she were to post a. Video/audio on YouTube of this rtp, listener’s delight!!!

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