Season Reviews - Prince Rama Varma

Date : 16.12.23

Venue : Madhuradhwani

Vocal : Prince Rama Varma

Violin : Avaneeswaram Vinu

Mridangam : Harikumar

Ghatam : S Karthick

By Sivapriya Krishnan

Prince Rama Varma’s music has a lot of internalisation of the melody, raga and the song. His music is also characterised by the beauty of flat notes interspersing with gamakas, medium-paced kalapramana, and a selection of songs that make the concert stage lively and interesting.

The year 2023 celebrated the birth centenaries of vidwans M. D. Ramanathan, K.V. Narayanaswamy and Pudhucode Krishnamurthy. That evening, Rama Varma dedicated his concert as a tribute to all of them, but with an emphasis on MDR, who has been a manaseeka guru to him.

Rama Varma sang Vanajakshiro an MDR favourite in Ata tala, in three speeds, including a tisra variation. His rendition of Endaro mahanubhuvulu was true to MDR’s way of singing it.  Tyagaraja gurum asraye in Kedaram followed this. Hariyum Haranum ondre endru ariyaadhavar ularo in Athana by MDR is a classic. Rama Varma sang it beautifully, highlighting the twist of the line at the end wherein the composer says that Hariyum Haranum ondre endru ariyaadhavar uLare!

Navasiddhi petralum a Nilakanta Sivan composition in Karaharapriya was rendered with all the poignancy it deserved, with the words saavi and paavi alternating. Devi Paavani seve Janani in Saveri, a composition from the Navaratri kritis of Swati Tirunal was the main song with elaborate raga alapana and swara prastara at Samaja pungava charugate. He follows a good practice involving all the accompanists in his swara kuraippu portion by making each one take turns after him.

A song from Swati Tirunals Ajamilopakyanam in Kapi was the next one, popularised by Pudhucode Krishnamurthy. He concluded with a tillana in Behag, a composition by T.V. Gopalakrishnan, as a tribute to him, for he was instrumental in  Rama Varma becoming a performing artist, noticing his talent for singing and being present during the concert.

During the tani avartanam, Ghatam Karthick displayed his versatility with a brilliant konakkol segment. Harikumar, Karthick and Vinu form a good team with Rama Varma, each of them being a seasoned artist themselves, complementing him so well that it becomes a listener’s delight.

(The author is a Carnatic vocalist, writer and management professional)