A unique treat

AN EDUCATIVE SESSION Ashish Sankrityayan brought out the finer nuances of Dhrupad in his performance

AN EDUCATIVE SESSION Ashish Sankrityayan brought out the finer nuances of Dhrupad in his performance  

The Dhrupad Anjali Kala Sansthan organised Ustad Rahim Fahimuddin Dagar Dhrupad Utsav at Kolkata’s Bharatiya Bhasha Parishad recently. Spread over two days, this festival presented several brilliant performers. But the most interesting aspect remained Ashish Sankrityayan’s lecture-demonstration, delving in the deep and subtle aspects of Dhrupad-shastra that was the forte of the legendary Ustad, his guru.

Apart from training with Ustads Rahim Fahimuddin Dagar, Zia Fariduddin Dagar and Sayeeduddin Dagar, Sankrityayan had also studied Vedic recitation from Hriday Ranjan Sharma of Varanasi and, apparently, polished his oratory skills as the guru and director of the Ustad Alauddin Khan Academy’s Dhrupad Kendra in Bhopal. All these experiences made his melody-dipped and edifying lectures a unique treat that also combined history and philosophy.

The first evening began with his aalap in raga Puriya, Shree and Marwa interspersed with the shastra of Dhrupad; explaining the influences of Vedic-swarocchar (enunciation) with Udatta, Anudatta and Svarita varieties which give a unique ringing quality to each note sung by a vocalist. He displayed this happening while explaining the Gram-Murchana system of Natyashastra versus the Thhat-Paddhati as propounded by Pandit V.N. Bhatkhande.

The Gram-Murchana was discussed in detail on the second day’s session by focusing on the statement of Baba Behram Khan that was often quoted by Ustad Fahimuddin Dagar: that murchana is the secret that makes notes belong to ragas. Sankrityayan gave illustrations using aalap in Bhimpalasi, Multani and Kedar to show how the internal distances between the notes change in a subtle but precise way from raga to raga and also why the use of shrutis in ragas need a well-developed concept of overtone colouration or change of resonance through the use of the Vedic swaras. He showed how the shrutis are used in the Dagar tradition to create tonal imagery; for example the depiction of the lengthening of shadows in the late afternoon in Multani.

Contemporary accounts

He quoted from several contemporary accounts of the singing of Zakiruddin Khan, Allabande Khan and Nasiruddin Khan which talk of their great mastery over shruti and on their capacity to show the subtle shades of a note in different ragas one after the other. “At the heart of the approach of the Dagars towards a raga is baring the soul of the raga through the pure note standing alone by itself,” he reiterated. This almost decoded the cryptic remark of the ustads: “Sa lagaane se hi raag jhalakta hai” (the raga’s glimpses become perceptible from the first application of the tonic).

Sankrityayan quoted history while talking on the significant presence of Dhrupad in Bengal in the pre-Independence era with renowned singers like Radhika Prasad Goswami, Gopeshwar Bandyopadhyay and others. “A review of Ustad Nasiruddin Khan’s performance in the 1935 All Bengal Conference at the University Institute College Square in the Amrita Bazar Patrika which had hailed him as the central attraction of the conference bears testimony to Dhrupad’s popularity; but it is dwindling now,” he said, admitting the painful fact.

The first evening also saw Zahid Khan, worthy son-disciple of Shamsuddin Faridi Desai, play a very peaceful, neat aalap and a jhap taal composition in raga Darbari Kanada on the rudra veena. The morning session of the second day began with ragas Todi and Bhairav on the rudra veena by Carsten Wicke, disciple of Ustad Asad Ali Khan. Later the screening of two very rare films of the elder Dagar Brothers’ concerts and also a preview of Sankrityayan’s book “Dhrupad of the Dagars, Conceptual Foundations and Contemporary Questions” followed.

The final evening began with the presentation of aalap and Dhrupad in Multani by young Auchin Banerjee and Vinay Shukla, disciples of Sankrityayan.

This was followed by Kathak choreographed and performed by Megh Ayan Banerjee, based on recorded pieces of Dhrupads in Shool taal and a Dhamar. Next was Ashutosh Bhattacharya of Varanasi, disciple of Pandit Ritwik Sanyal, who presented aalap in raga Jog, followed by two Dhrupads composed by his guru. Finally violinist Rashmi Chakrabarty, disciple of Sisirkana Dhar Choudhury and Ustad Fahimuddin Dagar, presented ragas Hamsadhwani, Hameer and Shankara. The supporting pillars of the festival were Gopal Jadhav Ugile and Prabal Nath (pakhawaj).

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Printable version | Sep 22, 2020 10:54:53 AM |

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