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A mesmerising evening

Pandit Chhannulal Mishra performed to an enthralled Varanasi audience recently, says GAUTAM CHATTERJEE.


NO DOUBT, the longevity and completely different dimension of the Kirana gharana has flowered with Pandit Channulal Mishra in Varanasi and the whole country. For more than 30 years he has been celebrating his Guru Ustad Abdul Ghani Khan's graceful teachings with his special voice quality that has the potential to leave the audience spellbound from Azamgarh to Varanasi. This week he was at his musical height with ragas Vasant and Bahaar at the vast Vidyapeeth ground, in the presence of Padma Vibhushan Pandit Kishan Maharaj.

Initially, he enunciated raga Vasant with a spring mood. "Phagwa Braj Dekhan Ko Chalo Ree" was the traditional bol in new form and style unlike "Rasia". Though the pakad - distinctive melodic phrase that characterises the raga - was as per rules, Sa Ni Dha Ma Ma Ma Ga Ma Ga Re Sa, but the chalan (short ascending or descending patterns of the raga with melodic movement) and uses of shruti were creatively stylised. Chhannulal deliberately emphasises two components: laya and gamak. This is the only reason that his badhat beautifies itself. That's why the exposition of Vasant was different here with the marvellous use of Komal Dhaivat. With short uses of tana with Komal Dhaivat, he expresses this pakad to characterise the raga.

He did not present a bada khayal, but the raga Vasant blossomed beautifully with the singer's unparalleled tone. Rhythmic intention (and paradigm) is the beauty of Chhannulal's ornamental singing, cultivated over three decades. A few moments, a few significant notes are enough for him to establish any raga with its inherent rasa. While performing Vasant, he did not take the assistance of gamaks. But he presented Bahar in all its beauty, again in chota khayal. The lyrics were "Saghan Ban Kunjan Belariya". This beautiful raga makes use of Komal Gandhar. He started straightway with its pakad: Ma, Ma, Pa, Ga and his flow was amazing and showered the notes of Bahar on the open-air gathering in all their bright colours. Chhannulal Mishra is like a poet, such is the bhava - emotion - in his singing. His Komal Gandhar was not only marvellously sung but also exhibited all the nuances of this swar in relation to the other corresponding notes.

He also presented his favourite "Lage Tose Nain" in the raga Mishra Nat. He rendered Hori of two types too. First was "Rank Ko Aaj Daan Dene Do, Mook Ko Aaj Gaan Dene Do". This is a pada of Janki Ballabh Shastri. Lalit Kumar on tabla and Deepti Banerji on tanpura accompanied him in this presentation. Next was the Hori of Shankar, "Khelai Masane Me Holi Digambar Rang Darungi Nand Ke Lalan Pe". With the coming of night it was the time for Kajri. He presented his famous Kajri, "Sawan Jhar Lage La Dhire Dhire". Laggi supported him very well. The spell bound audience seemed to refuse to leave the ground, all carried away with the charismatic Banaras gharana renditions.

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