preview Vasundhara and Kalapini Komkali present ‘Saha Gaan' that will showcase the nuances of Hindustani music
Date: November 12
Venue: The Music Academy
Time: 7.30 p.m.
T hey have been trained by the same guru – Pandit Kumar Gandharva — and have shared stage with him. The duo has strived through the years to keep the legendary guru's memory and hoary musical past alive.
Vasundhara Komkali and daughter Kalapini Komkali's ‘Saha Gaan' (singing together) signifies stree shakti , the mother-daughter dynamic, the Indian classical music's enduring appeal, the reach of a resonant voice and the exploration of tradition in a contemporary setting.
Vasundhara was in her early teens, when she met Kumar Gandharva in Calcutta, who asked the talented youngster to come to Bombay for further training. World War II broke out and Vasundhara couldn't set-out on her dream journey. Meanwhile, she established herself as a fine musician and performed regularly on All India Radio. But going to Bombay was uppermost in her mind and she finally managed to reach her destination. But to her dismay, Kumar Gandharva had no time for imparting lessons and advised her to go to Professor Deodhar, a doyen of the Gwalior gharana. So Vasundhara trained under Prof. Deodhar for some time but later convinced Kumar Gandharva to take her on as his sishya. She also later became his life-long companion by marrying him. As a supporting vocalist to her guru and husband, she imbibed the intricate nuances and aesthetics of the genre. Together they came up with several thematic concerts such as Geet-Varsha, Geet-Hemant, Geet-Vasant, Rituraj Mehfil, Triveni and Tulsidas Darshan.
Kalapini, who trained under her illustrious parents, has established herself in the classical music firmament with her command over the genre. An active trustee of the Kumar Gandharva Sangeet Academy, Kalapini has quite a few recordings to her credit.
Kalapini Komkali on training under her parents, taking her father's legacy forward and coming up with her own vision of the art.
What does it mean to be the legendary Pandit Kumar Gandharva's daughter? Are you weighed down by the responsibility to keep up the family name?
It's great to have a music legend for a father but there's hardly much time to cherish it as you are constantly trying to do justice to the inheritance. Since childhood I have only seen musicians as visitors at home and discussions centered around ragas, swaras and talas. As I gain a foothold in the music world, I realise that my identity as Kumar Gandharva's daughter will be integral to my artistic personality.
Your mother, Vasundhara Komkali, is also a well-known name in the field of Hindustani classical music and both of you often perform together. Does art define your relationship?
Art is a great comforting factor in our relationship. Our discussion rarely drifts to mundane things. It's lovely to have someone as close as a mother to share your creative understanding, vision and aspirations. It's equally wonderful to have a mother as a guru. But it was not always this way. During my growing-up years I felt that unlike other children I didn't get enough of my parents' attention and affection. It would irk me that they spent all their time pursuing their passion.
From Dewas, a small town in Madhya Pradesh to international recognition; from being true to tradition to experimenting with various styles within the classical format, from sharp criticism to reverence for his refreshing approach — your father's musical journey strikes a high note.
Yes, indeed. Though he is the pride of Dewas, the town never really understood his commitment and his approach to the art. He never really got the recognition he deserved during his lifetime. I am happy that at least now there is more awareness, which gives me the strength to take the legacy forward.
Why is your concert at the Friday Review November Fest titled ‘Saha Gaan'?
It cannot be a jugalbandhi with your mother and guru. ‘Saha Gaan' when translated loosely means ‘conversation with the master'.