Representing Muthuswami Dikshitar’s sishya parampara, Vivek Sadasivam’s lineage features his great grandfather, Ananthakrishna Iyer, who learnt directly from Ambi Dikshitar in gurukulavasa. The treasured repertoire was passed down by Iyer to his daughter Champakavalli and son Anantharama Iyer, who in turn trained Vivek’s father Sadasivam. Settled in Kolkata for many decades, the family, an authority on Dikshitar kritis and patanthara, established in 1943, their school ‘Sri Guruguha Gana Vidyalaya.’
Currently dividing his time between Bengaluru and Chennai, Vivek, a disciple of his father, later came under the tutelage of gurus Rudrapatnam Thiagarajan and Sanjay Subrahmaniam. In his vocal recital for Naada Inbam at Ragasudha hall, the artiste’s chosen theme was ‘Subrahmanya as visualised by Muthuswami Dikshitar and Tamil Composers.’
Opening with the Hindolam varnam ‘Mal Marugan’ (Thanjavur Sankara Iyer), the vocalist progressed to a Tirumurugatruppadai verse crowned by ‘Muruga Muzhumathi’ (Papanasam Sivan, Saveri) which included a forceful niraval expedition and sarvalaghu kalpanaswara rounded off with a bull’s-eye poruttam.
In the stand-alone ‘Gajadeeshadhanyam’ (Nattakurinji, Muthuswami Dikshitar), the artiste thrived on home ground, particularly in the busy sangathi matrix of the pallavi and a sparkling chittaiswaram. Purvikalyani took on an appreciable sheen in an alapana that hit all the right notes with emphatic statements softened by deeply felt bhava interludes. A malleable voice that was the epitome of cooperation soared to the tara stayi shadja and gandhara suites to create a vibrant fretwork of karvais, jarus and brigas. An impassioned Kandhar Alankaram verse and the Tiruppugazh ‘Marukkulaviya’ (Arunagirinathar) supported niraval and swarakalpana that intensified the raga’s fragrance . A rarely aired Dikshitar gem ‘Swaminathena’ emerged from the Brindavana Saranga sketch.
A brisk approach to Khambodi took the main alapana through a full-gamut outline before settling to vistara at the madhya sthayi gandhara. Vintage touches, invoking the nostalgia of the LP record era, daubed sancharas. The tara sthayi shadja and risabha proved fertile ground for clear-cut brigas, a break from the busy mosaic coming at the gandhara. Though the exposition was punch-laden, strategic stretches of serenity would have been a perfect complement, had they been included. A detailed ‘Sri Subrahmanyaya Namaste’ was a triumph of authentic patanthara, the full-throated niraval at ‘Vasavadhi’ retaining energy from start to finish. Landings at varied eduppus, interesting permutations and the kuraippu at the dhaivata added verve to the kalpanaswara segment.
Passion, commitment and conviction powered Vivek’s interpretations strengthened by apt selection of kritis and verses.
There was fire in violinist Chidambaram Badrinath’s essay of Purvikalyani and in his enthusiastic response to the Khambodi alapana that wove in the vocalist’s ideas. Vijay Natesan’s keen anticipation on the mridangam was a valuable asset to his co-artistes. In tandem with S. Krishna (ghatam), he contributed valuable percussive input that held one’s attention in every stroke of the thani.