"If you have two pennies," said Confucius, the Chinese philosopher, "spend one
on bread, and with the other, buy a lily for your soul." The K R Neo-Citizen's
Health Club was trying to provide both varieties of food for the Hyderabadis by
organizing a Carnatic vocal concert by the doyen of South-Indian music, the world
famous K J Yesudas.
A music lover was heard commenting at 6:30pm, the scheduled time of beginning, "These artists have so many idiosyncrasies. First they come late, and then they take an hour to tune their instruments (reminding me of the highly acclaimed Kishori Amonkar here). It is only then that they start the concert, almost testing the patience of the audience." She had the grace to add, "But once they begin to sing, we forget all else and are totally transported to another world."
Even as the others nodded in agreement with her, in walked the artist of the evening with his troupe, quite in time, and got up on stage. And within minutes, the first note of his magical voice floated through the open-air auditorium.
The voice was the same, but the acoustics did not reverberate the high quality of it. Then, there were disturbances of all kinds, with people walking up and down, VIPs arriving (and departing too) at their own sweet hour, the insects attracted by the strong lights feasting on the summer-exposed flesh of the audience and so on. Amidst all this, Yesudas sang Kanakangi (Sri Gananatham) with a powerful rendition that can be only his. The explanation about the raga's similarity to a Hindustani style was useful.
Also, the dig he made about a child's comment on Thatha's (his) 'aa-aa-aa's of ragaalaapana not having appealed to her fast paced music needs seemed like a challenge to the audience's own response to his pure classical style of singing. No contamination from films today, he seemed to warn us!
His idiosyncrasy for the day turned out to be his adherence to the chaste Carnatic purity. He sang a series of Thyagaraja and Purandaradasa kirthanas with utter commitment to those saint-poets (he looked one himself while singing!). Ragaalaapana was predominant. Ragam-Thanam-Pallavi was extremely powerful, and the effect of his music carried on throughout the evening till the end.
Yesudas filled our souls with divine food. Whether Konda Reddy will meet the body
demands with equal aplomb is yet to be experienced. We wish him luck. May the
members spread only the fame of the club, not their girths!