Kala Rasika is an initiative by classical violinist cum vocalist Vidushi Kalpana Kishore along with Odissi dancer Shrimati Shubha Nagarajan. It is their firm belief that art transcends all barriers, and anyone can just enjoy the sheer beauty of sounds and signs without knowing the nuances of the art. The aim of Kala Rasika is to take Kala (art, music and dance) to all audiences, thus creating Rasikas (those who appreciate). The inaugural concert of Kala Rasika started bang on time. The hall seemed a bit small, and had a packed audience. But the acoustics were amazing, with the right balance of volume – the best of a hall and home effect.
The first item was a Behag varnam, Vanajaksha by T R Subramaniam. Behag is used in both Carnatic and Hindustani, and Vid. Kalpana gave such a melodious introduction welcoming the mix of audience. Having learnt violin myself, I could only be amazed at the ease with which she was shifting notes, octaves and strings!
Next came Amba Nilayadakshi, a Dikshitar kriti in Nilambari. Nilambari is usually associated with lullabies … and Vid. Kalpana surprised us all by singing and playing the violin together – something that I have never witnessed before! She was joined on vocal by her students. The words were so captivating and apt for the upcoming Navarathri.
Next Vid. Kalpana jolted us up with Raghuvamsa Suda by Sri Patnam Subramanyaiyer in the bouncy Kadanakuthuhalam ragam. She introduced many interesting sangatis (variations in notes for the same set of lines) that I have probably never heard.
Following this was the RTP in ragam Kaanada (RTP is Raagam, Taanam, Pallavi – a typical sequence where a raga is completely explored through notes, rhythm and lyrics). The Pallavi was written by Vid. Kalpana with simple and amazing lyrics – probably inviting Goddess Saraswati herself! “Geetha, Vaadya, Natana Priye … Kala Rasike!” Followed by “San-geetha Vaadya Natana …”. What could be a better way to commemorate Kala Rasika’s inaugural function? In between, she introduced a bit of Hindolam too. This was immediately followed by Thani-aavarthanam – a percussion duet between the super talented Sri Anoor Ananthkrishna Sarma on Mridangam, aptly joined by Sri Bharghava Halambi on Kanjira.
Then came a very popular song in Madhyamam shruti (Ma becomes Sa, so that Sa becomes Pa). Payoji Meine, Ram Ratan Dhan Paayo is a lilting melody in Hindustani Khamaj.
Vid. Kalpana concluded her program with a Fusion in ragam Varamu and Sankeerna Chaapu thaalam (a complicated 9 beat rhythm). This piece had everyone on stage performing – with one of her students on the keyboard, and two additional percussion instruments from Sri Sarma’s group. What a grand piece it was to keep the audience humming it in their heads as they proceeded for the break!
During the break we treated ourselves to some hot and homely coffee, tea and cookies and socialised with the audience as well as artists.
The second half of the program was Odissi performance by Smt. Shubha Nagarajan. She too had an excellent line-up of dance pieces.
Smt. Shubha started with Mangalcharan invocation – a shloka dedicated to Rama written by Tulasidas in Raag Kedar. Her costume, movements and expressions gave the audience a sense of her finesse in the art in no time.
This was followed by a Pallavi – a pure nritta piece in raag Megh – very appropriately chosen for the weather that evening. Smt. Shubha’s movements emulated the mood of the weather with amazing grace.
We then witnessed an Odiya Abhinaya – Ahe Nila Saila by Kavi Salabeg in raag Arabhi. As the term goes, this piece had stories enacted – Draupadi vastraharan, Prahalad rescue and Gajendra moksha. Each piece had an array of emotions portrayed beautifully by Smt. Shubha.
The concluding item of the program was Moksha in raag Bharavi, leaving the audience with a sense of awe. This item as well as the Mangalacharan and Abhinaya were choreographed by Padmavibhudhan Late Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, and I believe Smt. Shubha brought out the bhaava so beautifully.
On my return back home, all the co-passengers in the car couldn’t stop talking about the richness of the entire program. Kudos to Kala Rasika and the whole team behind this program – hope to see more of these very soon.