Bharatiya Kala Vishwa's recent festival in Bhopal brought out the link between folk and classical.
The Bharatiya Kala Vishwa in association with the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya, Bhopal, recently organised a three-day festival, Journey from Folk to the Classical. It was to to trace the gradual journey of arts from their origin in folk to the sophistication of the classical. Music being its best example, the theme was carried through vocal and instrumental recitals from classical and folk traditions. It was a pity that such a thoughtfully conceived and well presented festival was attended by just a handful of music lovers due to poor publicity.
Keeping the theme in mind, Shuchishri Ray from Kolkata opened the festival with Tilak Kamod, a raga of folksy character, and also treated it in the medium tempo Jhap tala during the bada khayal which is conventionally sung in a very slow tempo, with talas like vilambit Ek tala, Tilwada or Jhoomra. She rounded off her vocal recital with a jhoola, the folk song of the rainy season which has journeyed to the semi-classical genre. Conscious of both form and content, Shuchishri gave an engaging recital. Groomed by Kumar Prasad Mukherjee and Arun Bhaduri, her throat power shows the grooves of both her gurus. Her voice did full justice not only to the raga but also to the neatly enunciated lyrical contents. Vinay Mishra on the harmonium and Somen Sarkar on the tabla gave her commendable support.
Sanjay Guha's sitar recital also took care of the theme in selecting ragas based on the folk idiom. His handling of the alap-jod and the gat-toda had both sensitivity and technical virtuosity. Initiated into music by his uncle Satyavrat Guha, a disciple of Balram Pathak, and further groomed by Radhika Mohan Moitra, Sanjay was also trained in the Maihar style by Deepak Chaudhuri and his illustrious guru Pandit Ravi Shankar. The folk element was underlined throughout, right from the combination of Pahadi and Jhinjhoti to Dhani and the concluding Jangla Dhun.
The next evening's attractions were a violin recital by Pravin Sheolekar and vocal by Harish Tiwari. Pravin delineated Bihag in a methodical way with commendable maturity of expression. The slow composition set to slow Ek tala was played in gayaki ang (vocal style) with meticulous elaboration. He switched over to tantrakari ang (style that emphasises the instrumental character) in the faster composition, culminating in fast jhaala. He also played a composition in Jhinjhoti before concluding with a Marathi Natya Geet in Mishra Pilu.
Harish Tiwari's robust voice had the resonance of his illustrious guru Bhimsen Joshi, be it the rendition of khayals in raga Durga which he performed with aplomb, or the thumari and concluding bhajan “Jo bhaje Hari ko sada…” immortalised by his guru. The complex taans were executed with good lung power and melodic appeal. Vinay Mishra on the harmonium and Vinod Lele on the tabla gave superb support.
The concluding evening showcased the classical element in folk music when Bhoongar Khan and Party, Manganiyar singers of Rajasthan, mesmerised the audience with their vibrant virtuosity. While playing folk instruments like kamaicha, sarangi, khartala and dhol, they also sang with unbelievable command folk songs based on ragas from Maand, Sorath, Bilaskhani Todi and Lalit to the concluding Bhairavi.