Krisnaruupa/ Various artistes
Composer: Ruupa Raaman
Iktara Musique/ Rs 199 for CD, available digitally on OK Listen for Rs 150
IT’S extremely rare to hear a ragamala in a contemporary album, but in ‘Krisnaruupa’, composer Ruupa Raaman attempts that with great poise. In the song ‘Shreenaathji Darshan’, an ode to the famous Shreenaathji in Nathdwara, Rajasthan, she describes his eight daily darshans through a 19-minute piece that uses ragas Lalit, Komal Rishabh Asavari, Maand, Brindavani Sarang, Bhimpalasi, Hameer, Nand and Jaijaiwanti rather charmingly.
‘Shreenaathji Darshan’ is one of the many highlights of ‘Krisnaruupa’, a six-track album dedicated to Lord Krishna. Considering that this is Ruupa’s first record as a composer, this is a truly commendable job, as the sound is rooted in classical melodies and Atul Raninga’s smooth arrangements. While five songs are written by Aajay K Chauhan, the choice of four singers — Sraboni Chaudhuri, Sanchita Bhattacharya, Aishwarya Majmudar and Anweshaa — lends variety, as each of them has a different texture and style.
The tunes are the kind that grow on you. ‘Nandlala’, sung by Aishwarya Majmudar, is a sprightly tune which begins, “Bhola sa, bada pyaara sa, Natkhat sa, Dulaara sa, Thumak thumak chalta hai girta sambhalta hai, Dekho to zara kaisi ye leela… Kaun hai ye, Nandlala natkhat Nandlala, Nandlala ho Nandlala.” Revolving on the life of the young Krishna, it sets the perfect pace for the album.
Singer Sanchita Bhattacharya is in good form on ‘Krishnaa Krishnaa’, which is sung from the point of a devotee who pleads with Krishna to save today’s mankind, in the lines, “Aaj ka maanas bada vikal hai, Ghut-ti hai saansein jeena vihal hai, Tujh bin na ho paye Gopala , Tu hi sabka ek kinara.” Themewise, it is reminiscent of ‘Krishna Nee Begane Baaro’.
‘Shyaam Ke Sang’, also by Aishwarya Majmudar, is on the Krishna-Radha romance, as Chauhan writes, “Shyaam ke sang vichrai Radha, Shyaam ke rang rang gayi Radha.”
The extremely talented Sraboni Chaudhuri appears on ‘Aaj Prabhu Mohey’, which is about a devotee wanting a glimpse of Lord Krishna. The lines “Meera nahin main, Sita nahin main, Radha nahin main dwaapar ki, Yug yug se hoon pyaasi Prabhuji, Lipti hoon charnon se Prabhuji, Bairi jag hai, Paar lagaa do” are crisp and effective.
The album concludes with ‘Jai Jai Krishna’, which comes after ‘Shreenaathji Darshan’. A 10-minute piece sung by Sanchita Bhattacharya, it talks of 108 names of Lord Krishna according to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. A wonderful finale!
Being a Krishna album, it’s natural that the bansuri plays a major role, and flautist Ashwin Srinivasan does a wonderful job. Sunil Das’s sitar has also been used very effectively, and there are charming appearances by Dhruba Ghosh on sarangi, Narayan Mani on Saraswati veena, Atul Raninga on pianica and Manas Kumar on violin. The rhythm section consists of Ashish Jha on tabla, Shreedhara Chari on dholak and pakhawaj, and Rohit Prasad on mridangam.
Throughout, the album flows smoothly, and keeps you riveted through its sheer melody. Clearly, it’s one of the best devotional albums to come out in recent times, and is a must for devotees of Lord Krishna.
RATING SCALE: * Poor; ** Average; *** Good; **** Excellent; ***** Simply outstanding