V ocalist Bhuvanesh Komkali, grandson of the late Kumar Gandharva, carries a legacy at once joyful and onerous. Kumar Gandharva died in 1992. Bhuvanesh has received a boon that ultimately is bestowed not by training, but by genetics and sheer good fortune: a voice hauntingly reminiscent of his grandfather. Bhuvanesh, a disciple of his grandmother Vasundhara Komkali and of Madhup Mudgal, emphasises that although the public sees him as a performing artiste, he considers himself a student. He says: “I want to remain always under the guidance and protection of my guru.” Indian classical arts are part of an invaluable and incomparable heritage, he notes. “Classical music is both bandhan and gives immense freedom. These are not my words, but of Kumar ji . As for toughness, all paths are tough in today's competitive world. That is why I feel all young musicians today should remain faithful (nishthaavaan) to their guru and be proud (abhimaani) of their art.”
Edited excerpts from a conversation with the Dewas-based Bhuvanesh …
Concert planning based on perceived differences in audiences in different places…
There is a difference everywhere and it does affect me to some extent.
For example, in Delhi I would not plan to sing Marathi abhang and Natyageet, etc., since it is not a Marathi audience, unless the festival was particularly meant for such compositions. That said, I also feel that even when I perform before a non-Indian audience, there is no verbal language barrier in music.
Being a professional classical musician is like navigating a river with two banks: one purely spiritual and the other worldly…
I experience this all the time. Truly art takes us towards spirituality. It gives us atmik shanti . It is a world apart. But the needs and requirements of the ordinary world too are very important. We get petrol at the same rate as other people! That's why it's necessary to see both sides (of life). But I feel there is no option – one has to try to balance the two.
And it's not necessary that everyone is successful in balancing these two worlds. But it is the reality .
Necessary precautions and discipline required to care for one's voice and health in a hectic performing career
Every person has his/her physical abilities, and every performance is dependent on this. Not just music, this applies to cricket too. It is like that ad, jab tak balla chal raha hai, tab tak thhat hai . Some people are more sensitive and even a little ailment affects their voice. Others can drink cold water and sing for two hours. As for what I do, let that remain a secret. Whatever advice my gurus have given me, I follow it with complete sincerity. So that my voice may stay in sur, that this saaz (instrument) should always stay in tune.
But yes, life is very tiring these days, there is daur bhaag. I have a routine of playing badminton every morning, which I love and it keeps me fit, but I am not able to do it all the time due to my schedule.
So, just like spiritual and worldly balance, one has to find balance work and fitness.
Archiving of Kumarji's works
It's an archive in the house where Kumar ji lived (in Dewas, about 150 km from Bhopal). We too live in the same house, but we have maintained his room like a museum, just as he kept it. Many people come to hear the music, and some just come to see his house.
Twenty years have passed since his death. His fans do still come. However, we don't run it like a commercial archive. There is no entry ticket or anything. There are some projects on the anvil related to these archives but they are still at the paper stage so I can't talk about them yet.
I feel all young musicians today should remain faithful (nishthaavaan) to their guru and be proud (abhimaani) of their art.