Opening the concluding evening of the three-day Thumri Festival presented at Kamani auditorium by the Delhi Administration's cultural wing, the Sahitya Kala Parishad, the Delhi-based Savita Devi, daughter and disciple of the late Thumri Queen, Siddeshwari Devi of Benares, delighted with her compact, meaningful and well-planned performance comprising just three numbers a charmingly rendered thumri in raga Yaman Kalyan, "Saanjh bhayee ghar aavo Nandlal", a liltingly rendered dadra "Maan mor kahanwa", and a soulfully rendered Baba Bulle Shah number in the raga Bhairavi, "Avval Allah noor paya, kudarat ke sab bande". It was indeed a rare experience to listen to and enjoy a `thumri' rendered in a major raga like Yaman Kalyan, since most of the thumris are usually heard in ragas in lighter veins like Khamaj, Kafi, Piloo, Jangla and their sorts, and these too in their mixed and distorted forms. What delighted one further was her singing with utmost tunefulness and good lungpower, her voice meandering with ease even into the uppermost octaves. Her neat enunciation of the lyrical contents added further grace to her memorable performance of the evening. She had excellent vocal support by her disciples, Dipti Bansal and Swapna Chatterjee. In addition, the trio of singers had commendable accompaniment on the sarangi by Bharat Bhushan Goswami, on the harmonium by Ballu Khan Warsi and on the tabla by Idris Ahmed. The previous evening concluded with some light classical renderings by Shanti Hiranand, who was a leading disciple of the late Begum Akhtar. Shanti is basically a ghazal singer, and so was her mentor who was known better as a Ghazal Queen. Shanti commenced her recital with a thumri "Bin balam naa kate ratiyaan" that seemed to be set to a raga Bhinna Shadaj. This was followed with the dadra, "Morey balam pardesiya". Another dadra set to the noontime melody of raga Bhim Palasi, "Laage tose nain", sounded rather odd at that time of the night."O Nirmohi" in raga Bhairavi and the concluding number in raga Desh, "Chhaa rahi kaali ghata", sung at her admirers' request, pleased in parts only. She had good accompaniment on the harmonium by Ballu Khan Warsi, on the sarangi by Ghulam Sabir Khan and on the tabla by Nawab Ali.
Unusual choiceThe Thumri Festival concluded with varied renditions by the Varanasi-based Pandit Chhannulal Mishra whose presenting of a khayal in raga Shyam Kalyan at the commencement of his recital did not augur well at the Thumri Festival meant mainly to feature semi-classical numbers. He however made up well with his next number, a thumri in raga Mishra Khamaj, "Ab naa bajawo Shyam baansuriya" followed by yet another lively thumri, "Laagey tose nain". He continued with a lively dadra and a `chaiti' to conclude his recital, which at times turned into a lecture-demonstration that quite often disturbed one's attention from the musical renderings. The artiste had commendable accompaniment on the harmonium by Harshkishore and on the tabla by son Ram Kumar Mishra. JITENDRA PRATAP