September is a very eventful month in our family- dad's, sister's and nephew's birthdays, and sister's anniversary- so this goes out to all of them! :) Hope I've done some justice to this piece...
The kriti 'Ni PadamE' is probably the most famous composition of GNB. An article by BVK Sastri, written in the 1950s mentions that this song along with 'Sada Palaya' was very popular even then.
Despite being a popular raga, there aren't many compositions in Nalinakanthi. During GNB's time 'Manivanala' was probably the only composition known in this raga. Later compositions of GNB and Lalgudi Jayaraman are welcome additions to this wonderful raga.
While Tyagaraja's composition oozes with exuberance and brings out the briskness with its 'duritha kala' sangathis, GNB's "Ni PadamE' is set in 'reNdu kettAn' kaalapramaNam and that in my opinion adds more 'rakthi' to the raga without compromising on the briskness. The 'eduppu' or the starting phrase too is significantly different from 'Manavinala'.
GNB has embellished several famous kritis with new sangatis that contain beautiful swaraksharams. One stunning example is 'sa ma ni ga ma ga sudha' in the kriti 'Samaja Varagamana'. While all the 'aksharams' are right in front of our eyes, I still wonder why it takes such geniuses like GNB and Balamurali to unearth such swarakshara gems, while an ordinary mortal just reads the line and at the most appreciates the saahithya bhava.
GNB's compositions too are adorned with beautiful swaraksharams. Like in the Mohanam (Sada Palaya) and Khamas (Pada Bhajana) compositions, in the Nalinakanthi composition too, the kriti begins with a wonderful swarakshara phrase in 'Ni Pa'. Another attribute that elevates the composition is the 'dvitiyakshara prasam'(explained earlier in this series). While in the Sivasakthi composition, the lines in the anu-pallavi and charanam are adorned with 'Dvitiyakshara prAsam', in this composition along with those two parts even the pallavi contains DvitiyAkshara prAsam.
While usage of such rhyming words is common, occurance for such 'prAsam' in all the lines of a composition is rare. The greatness of this composition is that, at no place we feel that the 'rhyming word' is a forced fit. Like Dikshitar, GNB too has interweaved the raga name beautifully into the composition.
Despite several innovations and embellishments, the composition structure remains fairly simple and sounds uncontrived. Which, by the way, is not a simple task to come up with. (I'm sure Sindhu will vouch for that).
While Sindhu has rendered the composition nicely, probably for the first time in this series, I felt the 'absence' of Mridangam accompaniement. Also, the choice of the line 'nA pApamu' for swaraprastaram doesn't gel with the mood of the ragam. In my opinion, the pleading 'bhava' of the lyrics contradicts the raga bhava of Nalinakanti.
Song: ni paadame gathi