Indra Dhanus - Unity in diverse colours: a musical  feast  
by V P Dhananjayan, Chennai 
November 12, 2003   

Whenever time permits, we make it a point to attend any musical concert or classical oriented dance programme, whether traditional or experimental.  Having seen the newspaper advertisement of an experimental musical feature called Indra-dhanus,  (Rainbow) Shanta and self landed up in Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan on 23rd October. Having no invitation, we were of course prepared to buy tickets. Surprisingly entry was free and naturally the hall was full. Not sure of what was in store for us that evening, we sat quietly in one of the back rows. Noticing our presence there, someone compulsorily guided us to the front row, though we preferred to sit a little behind, in case we needed to leave early. Amazingly we were stuck to the seat engrossed for three hours, that was the greatness of the presentation by the young Mridangam vidwan D A Srinivas, a prime disciple of Madurai T Srinivasan, popularly known as Cheenakkutty. 

D A Srinivas had arranged this musical creation as tributes to various inspiring personalities in his life including his beloved parents, early Mridangam Guru Krishnamurthy Patnayak (Vijayanagaram), then his real mentor Madurai T Srinivasan and manaseeka Guru Karaikudi Mani.  

It was a very well designed and balanced fare of classical, folk, film, pop music and western symphony.  Folk instruments to Jazz percussions were judiciously used to   enlighten, educate and entertain all class of people. A wide variety of Bhaarateeya Bhaasha (languages) was interestingly interwoven to the rustic beauty of chorus singing. The young boys and girls who handled the chorus and solo voices were absolutely enchanting with their correct modulations, intonations and pronunciation of different languages. That too with a punch of rural rustic flairs. They all seemed very good mimics too.  Their versatility and professional acumen were evident throughout the sessions and one could feel the amount of rehearsals the group must have had to bring the required co-ordination and perfection. Yes, Srinivas confirmed that they worked almost six months together, almost every day for long hours, as a family affair.  Srinivas acknowledged the contribution of each one of the participating artists (many of them are film musicians) who worked for a mission without any monetary consideration.   

Srinivas was lucky enough to get financial support from his childhood friend (G Shivakumar of Vijayanagaram, a business man) who opened his treasury to produce such a massive musical extravaganza. Very generous indeed and such patrons keep our arts alive. Thanks to those ‘mahaanubhaava’. Everything fell in shape for Srinivas to treat the discerning Chennai connoisseurs with a delightful musical evening.  

The Kaambodhi Ragam taanam, pallavi with a brilliant Tani aavartanam from Srinivas himself took the audience by storm. The chosen taala –tisra jhampa sankeerna gati- was a very complicated and difficult one and the young vocalist Balamuralikrishna excelled himself to the surprise of the rasikas, who exclaimed in silence, “here is yet another Balamuralikrishna rising on the horizon”. 
Juxtaposing the Tamizh lyrics of Bhaarateeyar (achamillai achamillai)  with the Telugu poet Sri Sri ( Srirangam Srinivasa Rao) in a typical rhapsody mode brought the house down where the creative genius in Srinivas was at its height (people should know that the rap music is adopted from our folk traditions and no modern rap music can excel our folk rhapsody). It was very refreshing all through and entertaining. 

The presentation also had its flaws. Space utilization and placing of the orchestra need attention when such professional shows are conceived and presented. Shortage of an artistic director was evident.  The Bharatanaatyam dancer who gave visual beauty to the intricate rhythm patterns composed by Srinivas had no space to do justice to her movements. Space planning is essential to add aesthetic beauty to a visual presentation of a music ensemble.  The lighting design needs the touch of a professional expert.  The audio wires and mike stands all over was distracting and marred the beauty of the ambience. The good aesthetically arranged ambience enhance the enjoyment of a concert.  Balancing the instruments need special attention. 

All said and done, money plays an important role in making an artistic venture flawless. Kudos to Srinivas and his band of truly dedicated musicians.  

Indra Dhanus should be repeated internationally and no doubt this will go down very well both at home ground and abroad. The multinational commercial corporations could sponsor this on a big scale and with good marketing strategy they can get excellent mileage out of this brilliant musical production.  IS THERE ANY ONE LISTENING TO MY SHOUT???? 

D A Srinivas is a very busy musician involved in film music, Carnatic concerts and occasionally playing for Bharatanaatyam too. I have no hesitation to say that his close association with Bharatanaatyam experts like M.V Narasimhacharis and few others enlivened his virtuosity and creativity with whom he worked in his formative years.  

Srinivas can be contacted through his cell phone: 98410 58070 . 

V P Dhananjayan is a Bharatanatyam exponent and guru and founder of Bharata Kalanjali, Chennai.