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My Favourite Raga

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Susheela Mehta: Gorakh Kalyan is my choice
Susheela Mehta: Gorakh Kalyan is my choice

If you ask me to define music and dance in my life I would say, it is an offering to Him who gave me life.

Susheela Mehta, a performing Hindustani Classical singer and a Bharatanatyam dancer is on a voyage into the traditional and the unique.

For her it’s a journey into her own self, closest yet longest way back home. She accepts the challenge of belonging irretrievably and inescapably to the elusive world of dance and music.

Trained in the traditional Agra Rangila gharana of Ustad Faiyyaz Khan fame, she learnt for over 15 years from Pt. Rama Rao and thereafter under Khadim Hussain Khan Sahib and presently from Lalit Rao, one of the eminent torchbearers of the Agra gharana, the other being Meera Savur.

Majestic and dignified

It was a splendid feeling to be greeted by the drone of the tanpura. She was in Riyaz and it was raga Bageshwari that she was singing noted for its pathos.

She is equally drawn to Kedar which is light-hearted and joyous, to Nand which is colourful and with which she can make many different patterns.

Susheela adds by saying, “However, Gorakh Kalyan is my favourite raga as it is majestic, dignified and grand. For one it does not have any stringent rules and is rather expansive and fluid.

It is sung after 10 p.m., and hence is not a very popular choice at the concerts.

The legend of Gorakhnath can be traced to Navnath Panth and is derived from Dattatreya, who is an embodiment of Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara. In a dance drama which was conceived by me on the concept of ‘Sarvam Krishnan, Maheshwaram,’ where the devotee sees Krishna everywhere, as a lover, dancer, universal guru and eternal musician, I danced to many ragas like the Kedar, Hamsadhwani and Madhuvanti and the grand finale in Gorakh Kalyan was the tour de force of the performance.”

Recipient of the Surmani award from the Sur Singar Sansad, Susheela had her training in Bharatanatyam from the renowned Adyar Lakshmanan. “On a philosophical note, If you ask me to define music and dance in my life,” said Susheela, “I would say, it is an offering to Him who gave me life.”

JYOTI NAIR BELLIAPPA


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