Nattai is the janya raga of the 36th Melakarta Chalanata, which belongs to the 6th Chakra Ritu. It is considered a very auspicious raga, well suited for the commencement of a concert. It is generally fast-paced and it is therefore used to start a concert and set the tone of the concert.
The arohana and avarohana of Nattai are as follows : S R3 G3 M1 P D3 N3 S
S N3 P M1 G3 M1 R3 S
Its a vivadi raga, with R and G , D and N placed so close and such close placement of notes give the raga an exotic feel. The raga evokes Bhakti rasa. The Hindustani Raga Jog is very close to Nattai although Jog belongs to the Khamaj Thaat (Carnatic Harikamoboji).
The most important kritis which comes running to my mind when I think about Nattai is "Jagadanandakaraka", the first of Saint Thyagaraja's Pancharatnakriti, "Swaminatha paripalaya" and "Mahaganapathim" by Muthuswami Dikshitar. For me, these three kritis are the monumental pieces in Nattai. Other kritis and varnams I have been listening to
- Jaya jaya janaki kantha - by Purandaradasa
- Ye naadmulo - Varnam by Balamuralikrishna
- Sarasijamam pahi - Varnam by Parameswara Bhagavathar
- Saraseeruhasana priye - by Puliyur Doraiswamy
- Kaithala Nirakkani - Thirupugazh
In movies, Nattai has been used in some amazing songs. Who can forget the rendition of "Mahaganapathim" by the celestial singer K J Yesudas as the movie credits for Sindhubhairavi begins to roll. It is so ethereal that I can think of the kriti and it just rings in my ears. Other songs in Tamil I can think of are
- Thanga magan indru from Baasha
- Narumugaiye from Iruvar
- Chennai Senthamizh from M Kumaran Son of Mahalakshmi
- Iyengaru veetu azhage from Anniyan
Nattai has been explored very well in Malayalam cinema music too. The 1988 Mohanlal starrer Chithram features "Swaminatha paripalaya" sung by M.G.Sreekumar. The song and its picturisation still remains famous and etched in the mind of every Malayali out there! And I cannot forget "Gopangane" from Bharatham which is another famous movie song based on Nattai. Some other songs that I can think of
- Sree rama namam from Narayam
- Pon pularoli poo vithariya from Ithiri poove chuvanna poove
I am sure there are more but these are the ones which comes to my mind as I think about Nattai in Malayalam movie music.