At 82, Pandit Prabhudev Sardar's enthusiasm for music is undiminished. His music is a blend of the Agra-Jaipur and Kirana music traditions
It was not until I met the energetic 82-year-old Pandit Prabhudev Sardar, that I could fully understand Zig Ziglar's words: "Motivation is the spark that lights the fire of knowledge and fuels the engine of accomplishment. It maximizes and maintains momentum." He seemed like the epitome of motivation and perseverance; where achievement was just the by-product of his passion. Certainly, it takes more than just talent and hard work to excel both in the field of Hindustani Classical music and Law (he retired as a Public Prosecutor with his BA, L.L.B.), so I lose no time in asking him some tips on managing time."If music is your first love, then nothing can take you away from it. One will make time, come what may. I used to do morning and evening riyaz, and attend office in between. It was never my ambition to become a great lawyer; it was more for livelihood. My first love has always been music", says this top-grade AIR Mumbai artiste.His source of inspiration? "All India Radio," he says. "I had a deep desire to sing like the artistes I heard as a child on AIR. My motivation always came from within," explains this Sangeet Mahishi and winner of several prestigious awards.As a youngster, Prabhudev was found to have an aptitude for reproducing any music that fell on his ears. He was initiated into music by Digambar Bua Kulkarni (Solapur) through harmonium lessons (Bua believed that harmonium lessons would inculcate 'swara gyaan' or cognisance of different notes) at an early age. Listening to top class artistes was an essential part of his musical education and back in those days All India Radio, Mumbai was considered the only source. Upon listening to the legendary Sawai Gandharva's rendition of raga Lalit one day, Prabhudev was so mesmerized, that he started singing the raga, without any prior initiation into it (raga Lalit is a morning melody, with two madhyams and is difficult to execute without proper training). A stunned Digambar Bua noticed how exceptionally gifted the boy was, and impressed upon his father the need to make his son a full time musician and put him under the tutelage of a renowned Ustad.Keen on making his son a successful lawyer, Prabhudev's father advised that music should necessarily continue alongside academics. Prabhudev continued to learn from Bua for a number of years and in this time had a strong Kirana element in his singingIn 1962, when Prabhudev was transferred to Mumbai, he started learning from the celebrated stalwart of Agra gharana — Jagannath Bua Purohit (creator of ragas like Jog-kauns and Swanandi). After five years of learning from him, Prabhudev went to Pandit Nivrutti Bua Sarnaik (Jaipur) to pursue his taleem.
Synthesis of styles
Blending in the various schools of music, Prabhudev had built his own unique style that was both melodious as well as woven well with layakari and Jaipur styled taans.Prabhudev calls his music as a synthesis of Agra-Jaipur and Kirana styles. He explains how liberal his gurus were, in allowing him ample scope to incorporate their teaching/gharana's nuances into his singing, rather than imposing it on him. He feels that the artiste should develop his own style by dwelling on those elements that appeal to him. "After all, the artiste can only give 'anand' (true joy) to his audience, only when he enjoys the music within." Among his favourite ragas, he enumerates Darbari Kanada, Miyan ki Malhaar, Malkauns, Lalit and Todi. His favourite artistes are Ustad Amir Khan, Kumar Gandharv, Pt. Mallikarjun Mansur, Hirabai Barodekar and Roshanara Begum.He cautions upcoming musicians from taking music as a full-time vocation, saying that unless one has a sound financial backing, it is not feasible. "See, after all, one can't sing on an empty stomach, right?" "Present-day gurus do not take care of the shishya's needs like they used to in olden days. Nowadays music is taught for a fee and the shishya should be able be sustain himself financially."Apart from being Director of Kala Academy at Goa, Prabhudev has tutored a number of bright and talented artistes such as Srikrishna Khadilkar, Sujan Saalkar, Shyaam Gundawar and Ashwini Warsankar to name a few.Differentiating male and female styles of gayaki, he says: "A lady singer has to have the discerning ability to pick up/incorporate feminine nuances. A student should never blindly imitate the guru - one should assimilate the learning according to his abilities." "The present generation is exceptionally talented and has excellent grasping skills; the only problem is that they expect instant success. Music is a life-long journey or 'tapasya', and comes through practice, learning and improvement. The rush to instant pandithood is a bad tendency," he rues. "I still feel I have to perfect myself," adds this modest musical genius. Did someone say enthusiasm dulls with age?