Kedar Narayan Bodas’ recent concert drew one’s attention to the kind of artistes the Capital’s audiences have been missing out on.
The scene of Hindustani classical music in Delhi is quite peculiar in many respects. Till about two decades ago, the music season used to start in October and end in early March. The Vishnu Digambar Paluskar Jayanti Sangeet Samaroh was an exception as it was held in August. Besides this, the Shankarlal Music Festival and ITC Music Festival were the only two mega events that music lovers used to look forward to. However, over the years, the music scene has witnessed a great change, becoming very vibrant and full of important events. Now, small and big music events are organised round the year.
However, a star system a la Bollywood too seems to have taken firm root. This has resulted in a situation where a few artistes would be featured in nearly every music festival, while a great many others would never get a chance to perform in the Capital. This has deprived music lovers of a comprehensive exposure to the practice of contemporary Hindustani classical music.
These thoughts came to this writer’s mind while listening to a concert of Kedar Narayan Bodas at the India Habitat Centre last Tuesday. Bodas, whose initial training began with his grandfather Lakshman Rao Bodas, who was a disciple of the legendary Vishnu Digambar Paluskar, has learnt from various gurus of the Gwalior and Bhendi Bazar gharanas besides receiving a grooming in the art of tabla playing. Endowed with a deep and rich voice, he has the makings of an excellent vocalist as was evident in his rendering of Durga and Sawani. However, one was struck by the thought that perhaps it was his first recital in Delhi although he looks well into his late 40s.
He chose Durga to open his concert. It was a bit early in the evening for this raga but these days very few musicians are adhering to the time-raga principle. Moreover, it made ample musical sense when one noted that he had chosen another Bilawal thaat raga, Sawani, as the second raga of the evening. Durga, as is well-known, stems from the Bilawal thaat and is a pentatonic raga omitting both Gandhar and Nishad. One of the most beautiful melodies in the Hindustani repertoire, Durga is seldom treated as the main raga of the evening. Kedar Narayan Bodas did full justice to the raga, using charming murkis and short taans reminiscent of the Bhendi Bazar idiom, although his gayaki remained firmly based in the Gwalior tradition, as was evident in his masterly use of behlawa and aakaar taans. He sang a madhya laya composition, “Devi Bhajo Durga Bhavani”, followed by a drut composition, “Jaya Durge Bhavani”. He concluded the first part of his recital with a chaturang, a speciality of the Gwalior gharana, which uses the bols of Khayal, Tarana, Sargam and Tirwat.
Sawani is a raga not frequently attempted by vocalists. A favourite of the Jaipur-Atrauli and Agra masters, it is sung with Bihag-ang and hence associated with the Bilawal thaat. Kedar sang a madhya laya bandish, “Dev Dev Sadarang Shrirang”, and followed it by a drut bandish, “Shubh Din Aayo”. He concluded his recital with a bhajan. He was accompanied by Ashis Sengupta on the tabla and Vinay Mishra on the harmonium.