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Updated: August 16, 2011 10:16 IST

Thumri festival to promote new, established artistes

Madhur Tankha
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Suranjana Bose, an exponent
of the Agra gharana. Photo: Special Arrangement
Suranjana Bose, an exponent of the Agra gharana. Photo: Special Arrangement

Until not so long ago the royal courts of Lucknow resonated with lilting melodies of thumri. To bring back the golden era, Sahitya Kala Parishad is hosting a three-day Thumri Festival at Kamani Auditorium here beginning August 26.

To be inaugurated by Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, the festival has been planned as a regular event that will promote new as well as established thumri artistes.

The festival will open with thumri performances by classical musician Suranjana Bose and Shubra Guha, an exponent of Agra gharana. The second day will see performances by Anjana Nath and Purnima Chaudhuri, a leading Doordarshan artiste. On the last day, emerging thumri star, Kakri Mukherjee, and Girija Devi, classical singer of the Banaras gharana, will perform.

Though not connected with the Parishad, eminent Hindi literary figure Ashok Vajpayi feels the festival assumes significance because thumri is an important part of the Hindustani classical repertoire.

“I think thumri needs better dissemination and exposure,” says Mr. Vajpayi, who also heads the Lalit Kala Akademi.

It is said that thumri originated among the undulating hills of North-West India as a form of music associated with Lord Krishna's raas leela. While initially its compositions focused on Radha's love for the young Govinda, it soon spawned other forms in its genre namely dadra, chaiti, hori, kajari, saavan and jhoola.

Over the decades, the generic musical style of thumri gained immense popularity among a varied audience that enjoyed its odes to nature and love.

Unfortunately thumri has lost its disciples to what are deemed to be higher classical forms like khayaal, dhrupad or taraana in the present times. Musicians have started perceiving thumri as the “pop form of Hindustani classical”. As a result, new talent is losing interest in it. For those who grew up listening to the mesmerising voices of Begum Akhtar, Shobha Gurtu and Noor Jehan, this break from the past is a bitter pill to swallow.

Keywords: Thumri Festival

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