On a classical note
"Raagam Sangeetham" on Raj TV is a delightful half-hour that would inspire many youngsters to learn Indian classical music.
THE PRODUCERS of "Raagam Sangeetham" on Raj TV have in their own way rendered yeoman service to the cause of classical music. When celebrating a 100-day run is a near impossibility these days for a silver screen production, we have here on Raj TV a programme that is into its 500th episode and hence, deserving of our adulation and acclaim. A salute to the producers for inspiring youngsters to get trained in Indian classical music. "The programme has been on from the inception of Raj TV once a week on Tuesdays between 6.30 and 7.00 p.m. and is aired again on Fridays between 10 and 10-30 a.m. It is creating history as a programme that has been on for the longest period on the small screen, claims T.K.V. Rajan, a producer with Raj TV, with justifiable pride. Srividya Kalai is the present anchor and her husband plays the tabla in the show. The duo is also responsible for the title music. The hostess has to necessarily be a qualified singer and Srividya with her post-graduate qualification in Indian Music from the Madras University is an appropriate choice. She has given full-fledged concerts and lent her voice to the silver screen too. She limits her comments in order to allow the participants more time to air their talent. However, it would be good if the producers mention the names of the instrumentalists as they play. Captions mentioning the songs and the ragas chosen could also be flashed for the benefit of viewers.
Asked about the special features of the show, the hostess enthusiastically replied: "The ultimate aim of all students of classical music is to hit the concert stage. After audition, we select four participants every week, two for the Raagam group and two for the Sangeetham group. The winners of the preliminary round move on to the quarter-final round, then on to the semi-final and all the winners of these ultimately compete. At the end of 24 episodes spread over six months the finalist emerges. The latter is given a half-hour slot to perform to the accompaniment of instrumentalists who play for top-ranking musicians. This is the most unique feature of this programme. There are two age groups - those between 5-18 years fall under the junior category and those above 18 but below 30 years are bracketed in the senior group.
The January 1 show started on an auspicious note with the hostess Srividya rendering "Narayana ninna naama smaranam." The chief guest - cum-judge was Rajendra, a renowned nadaswaram player, serving on the faculty of the Tamil Nadu Music College. The participants on this occasion were all students of classical music at Kalakshetra for the last three years. This ensured a fairly good standard of singing. In the initial round they sang kirthanas of renowned composers "Kaalaharana" in Suddhasaveri, "Tulasidhala" in Mayamalavagowla, "Balakanaka" in Atana and the like. Sunil Kumar, a participant, had good diction. Yet another participant, Amirtha Vahini, was a Sri Lankan. I was informed that in earlier episodes even a blind girl had participated. It is indeed creditable that the programme is open to one and all.
The second round demanded that the participants render a Tamil song. It is reasonable to expect youngsters in Tamil Nadu to know songs in Tamil, the language of parlance. Thus, one participant rendered "Paalvadiyum mugam" while another chose a rare Manickavasagar's composition. When they failed to conform to shruthi, the hostess would be quick to point out that they should practise more. When one was competing the others were seen enthusiastically keeping the tala and this is to be appreciated since involvement of the participants is one of the finer points of any such programme. Finally, it is not winning or losing but how you play the game that matters most. The hostess was quick to encourage the youngsters when they sang with "bhava" or feeling. The final round comprised identifying the raga of the movie number that was played. The participant then had come up with another movie song based on the same raga. Call this application or coordination but this is a laudable feature. "Kadal Rojave" in Kapi, "Manam Virumbudhe" in Nalinakanthi and so on were identified in a trice. Sunil Kumar was adjudged the winner though the others were also complimented. An enjoyable and satisfying half-hour.
THARA MOHAN RAO
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