Author: Kavitha Rajaram; Photo Courtesy: Prakash Bala

The Ra-Ga sister’s concerts always occupy ‘Soap-Opera’ prime time in my schedule.  With the Chennai December Music Season, round the corner and with the concert schedules already published in various websites, I had made my personal calendar for the season planning concerts only on weekends owing to an unusual grinding work schedule in December.

Last Saturday, as I was browsing through the Hindu, I saw a Ranjani-Gayatri’s concert that evening as a part  Carnatica’s Bharat Sangeet Utsav which usually precedes the December Concerts. Needless to say, I did’nt want to miss an opportunity to miss my favourite duo and leaving no stone unturned in rushing to the concert venue to grab my tickets.

Having been to their concerts for the Utsav for the last couple of years, I could see the surging rasikas over the previous years. Rasikas were making a beeline to get into their respective allocated seats in the concert hall and the place looked nothing short of an overbooked aircraft with rasikas ready to take off on a blissful musical journey!

The curtains rise and the first thing I looked for was the reverse saree combination that has made a style statement called the ‘RG’way.

The opening piece was the brisk ‘Brocheva revare’ in Sriranjani.  The sisters have evolved as an amazing twosome whose individual singing style is distinct but yet sound lovely in unison. Next up was a thodi, (Kotinadulu dhanushkoti   by thyagaraja)built slowly and steadily and giving the raga its true flavor. Having been to many of their concerts over the years, I can vouch for the fact that the manodharma and swaras never seem practiced and that’s what brings the freshness in their concert and many a times I find them unexpectedly sync and that elevates the mood of the concert.

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The concert did not follow a regular format as it was a 2 hour concert but choice of songs were certainly apt given that there was a mix of compositions of leading composers.  The next one was a beautiful composition in poorvikalyani by purandarasa with Charumathi Raghuram providing non-intrusive support throughout the concert. The main piece, Muthuswami dikshidar’s Cheta sri in Dwijavanthi  was sedately rendered with the sisters plunging into the core of the raga. This was followed by a virtuam, chandrasekara eesha in Sindhu Bairavi, one of my favorites. While the organizers were on the dias thanking the duo for their performance, the audience would not let the sisters go without an abhang without which their concerts seem incomplete. Lending credence to the fact that a concert is a concerted effort, Ra Ga were ably led by Charumathi raghuram on the violin, Arunprakash on the mrudanga and Anirudh Athreya on the Kanjira.

 I am still a novice when it comes to reviewing concerts. But the sisters have definitely attained the dignity and stature of leading carnatic vocalists purely by their simplicity, powerful performances, fluidity and grace backed by classicism. Here’s to their December concerts and they can be rest assured of an ardent rasika in me who would be present at most of their concerts!!