SEMINAR The importance of the media in promoting Indian classical music was highlighted at the recent two-day seminar in Mumbai. KULDEEP KUMAR
It was intense brainstorming spread over two days over the role media can and should play to promote Indian classical music. Organised by ITC-Sangeet Research Academy (West) in collaboration with Mumbai's National Centre for the Performing Arts last weekend, it began with an inaugural address by Rajiv Takru, Additional Secretary in the Information and Broadcasting Ministry and CEO of Prasar Bharati. Setting aside the written address, he delivered an impromptu speech laced with humour and wit and assured the audience that the All India Radio and Doordarshan would continue to perform their role of public broadcasters with full awareness of their responsibility. He said classical music would continue to be promoted by these two electronic media with renewed vigour.
At one of the sessions the next day, AIR's Director General Leeladhar Mandloi announced that very soon, two niche channels dedicated to Hindustani and Carnatic classical music would be launched and the digitisation of the priceless AIR archives that had over 65000 hours of recordings would be completed after a few months. He appealed to the music fraternity to extend cooperation for such endeavours. He also informed that the AIR would be celebrating the birth centenary year of three musicians – Ustad Amir Khan, Pandit Nivrittibua Sarnaik and Pandit Pannalal Ghosh – by organising music festivals in their honour at Kolkata, Pune and Bhopal respectively. The musicians and connoisseurs present in the audience made good use of the occasion to air their grievances as well as suggestions about AIR's functioning. Noted vocalist Shubha Mudgal expressed surprise that on the one hand, Mandloi was complaining about established musicians demanding astronomical fee while on the other, the AIR had turned down her offer to sing free of charge.
Geeta Sahai, formerly of Gandharva music channel, recounted her experiences of doing programming for a radio channel exclusively meant for promoting Hindustani classical music while Shubhashree Thanikachalam of Jaya TV narrated how she was able to popularise Carnatic music through a reality show.
Gwalior gharana vocalista and music critic Amarendra Dhaneshwar analysed the contemporaray performance scene, the emergence of a star system and its baneful effects, the impact of the sponsorship of musical events by corporate houses and the gradual disappearance of the ticketed music programmes. Tabla player Aneesh Pradhan and Shubha Mudgal explained how new media and social media – Internet, Facebook, Twitter etc. – could be used for the cause of classical music while musicologist Deepak S. Raja dwelt on the way perception of music underwent a change as personal medium was gradually replaced by impersonal medium. He pointed out how instead of live performances, LP records or CDs have come to represent the essence of a musician's art. In this context, he recalled how his guru, himself a disciple of Vilayat Khan's father Ustad Inayat Khan, had told him that the LP record of Ustad Vilayat Khan's Puriya was the real Puriya.
A session was devoted to performing arts other than music and well-known journalist and playwright Shanta Gokhale, theatre person Sunil Shanbag, dancer Jhelum Paranjpe and journalist-turned-theatre director Gowri Ramnarayan discussed the contemporary scene and shared their experiences. Shanta Gokhale recalled how print media gradually allowed less and less space for music and other performing arts. In this context, many speakers singled out The Hindu as the only newspaper that still devoted adequate space to music.
The two-day seminar was preceded by a one-day symposium organised by Indian Musicological Society in collaboration with NCPA and several well-researched papers were read out by music scholars. Anirban Bhattacharaya from School of Oriental and African Studies, London put forward a graphic representation to underline the changes that crept into the nature of musical performances as the venue shifted from salon to sammelan.
Sitarist Arvind Parikh, a big-ticket businessman and senior-most disciple of Vilayat Khan, was the moving spirit behind both the events in his capacity as the President of IMS Society as well as the ITC-SRA (West).