The programme for March 2014 at Vanamala Centre for Art and Culture was a special one- “Rangageete” by Vidwan Paramashivan. It was quite amazing that even at the ripe age of 84, he stood up and sang for the entire duration of the programme- that is nearly three hours! Another point to be noted was that he sang all the rangageetes from memory, without having to refer to the lyrics at any time- he said he knows 1200 of them by rote! Describing rangageete as “Panchamrutha”- a blend of Carnatic, Hindustani, Marathi, Folk and Western genres of music, he commenced his lecture demonstration with a brief narrative of his life and experiences.
Male singers used to sing at a very high pitch, thus enabling the blending of emotions (bhaava milana) with female singers. Rangageetes in those days were mostly based on ragas in Carnatic music- not just the popular and easy ones, but tough, proficiency-level ragas such as Devagandhari and Athana. Every aspiring rangageete artist had to commence his career by learning and performing “koti haaDu”, which was rife with naDe bheda and challenging grahas (place of commencement of the song with respect to the rhythmic cycle).
The veteran then embarked on a medley of skillfully and soulfully rendered rangageetes, demonstrating the vast variety of music in this genre. Some of the rangageetes performed were Baa siri lOla (Kalyani raga, Adi tALa, Akroora says this to Krishna), Enna siriyE (Abhogi, Adi, KaNNappa nATaka- this used to be sung by the yesteryear film stalwart Dr. Rajkumar), Ninnolu dayAnvite yaaramma (another song sung by Dr. Raj addressed to “mother” in the nATaka “SAhukAra”). One of the rangageetes he presented, Raamanentha cheluvane ammayya in the raga tODi, was almost like a pallavi (one of the crowning glories of Carnatic music with rhythmic intricacies and creativity) with changing grahas of kaaleduppu and mukkaaleduppu! He also demonstrated a few songs tuned along the lines of Carnatic compositions- kritis, javalis, padams. Later, he demonstrated rangageetes based on Hindustani compositions, Abhangs, folk tunes and western music.
Vid. Paramashivan was ably accompanied by Vid. Srinivas on the harmonium and Pandit. Narendra on the tabla. A very soul-satisfying performance and one that everyone would look forward to witnessing again! Vid. Paramashivan has brought out a book containing nearly 2500 rangageetes and a CD containing his rendition of 1200 of these. The book and CD are available with the stalwart.