Nayarambalam, a scenic coastal village on the outskirts of Kochi, had a spell of Hindustani music cast over it on Sunday evening. ‘Khayal Bhavasangeeth’, a concert led by veteran musician Berny, engrossed the imagination of the small crowd comprising connoisseurs and amateurs alike with a line-up that celebrated the diversity of the genre.
Berny, the younger of the Berny-Ignatius brothers who have composed a treasure of Malayalam movie hits, led with vocal and harmonium while his son Keerthan Berny accompanied him singing and playing keyboard. Ravish Seth was on tabla. The concert was held on the campus of Lokadharmi Nadakaveedu, a centre for theatre training and performance, founded by eminent theatre personality Chandra Dasan.
Berny set the mood for the concert with a ‘bhajan’ in Raag Yaman, considered a lofty evening raaga in the northern variation of the Indian classical music. The bhajan, “Gurubin kaun hare more taap”, written and composed by Berny’s guru Vijayasenan aka Sursen gave the concert a perfect start with its pious tone and theme hailing god.
Berny then moved to ‘khayals’, a sub genre that gives performers greater freedom of improvisation. He presented a bada khayal (Terohi asara) and a chota khayal (Rasa beena jeenu aa aye), both in Raag Shuddh Kalyan.
It was the turn of Keerthan then to elevate the melodic atmosphere. He sang a khayal, again in Yeman. Keerthan, in his youthful voice, sang ‘Goongariya baaje mori’, a composition celebrating the Radhakrishna concept, in all its beauty and feel.
Next, Keerthan had a ‘hori geet’, often sung during the holi celebrations in north India, in his line-up. The cheerful rendition lifted the mood of the audience. A chota khayal in Raag Bihaag and a ‘tarana’ in Durga by Berny followed.
Berny, being a Malayalam composer, wanted to make the concert an occasion to pay tribute to some of the legends in the industry who skillfully explored and employed the magic of Hindustani in their compositions. Keerthan rendered the Baburaj masterpiece ‘Thamasamenthe’, a classic composition said to be in ‘Bheem Plasi’, and later Johnson’s “Devee athmaragamekan” in ‘Miya ki malhaar’.
Berny then went to on give a detailed rendition of a Kabir bhajan in Raag Desh. Later, the audience got the chance to experience the charm of Desh once again as Keerthan sang ‘Mayilaay parannu vaa’, one of the best compositions by Berny Ignatius.
Mehdi Hassan’s ghazal ‘Duniya kisi ke’ in ‘Bhoop’ and a medley in ‘Keervani’ – comprising Umbayee’s popular Malayalam composition Sunayane sumukhee’, Mehdi Hassan Saab's ghazal and Bade Gulam Ali Saab's 'tumri' – nearly completed the list. As is the norm with any Hindustani concert, Berny chose Raag Bhairavi to wind up the concert. “Sumiran karle mere manaa” by Guru Nanak gave the concert a climatic ecstasy. However, the performers topped it up with ‘Pranasakhee’, another Baburaj masterpiece in Bhairavi. Berny called the song ‘our own Bhairavi.”
Berny’s interludes detailing the genres and scales and giving examples from Malayalam film songs made the performance even more intriguing and informative.