Gundecha Brothers unravel dhrupad's beauty

It was clear at a recent concert in Chennai why they are credited with the revival of this art form

March 08, 2018 04:41 pm | Updated 04:41 pm IST

 Dhrupad Brothers at a concert

Dhrupad Brothers at a concert

The lush greenary, the quietitude and students dressed elegantly in saris and dhoties welcoming you with a warm smile... watching a dance performance or listening to music in Kalakshetra is an experience. And when the artistes are dhrupad specialists Gundecha Brothers, it is pure bliss.

Ramakant and Umakant were in Chennai recently to participate in the Dhrupad Festival. When they began to render ‘Niranjan Nirakar’ in Rageshri, set to chautaal, and then Kabir’s ‘Jheeni re jheeni chaderiya’ in Charukesi, it made the audience understand the nuances of dhrupad and why the brothers are credited with reviving an art form on the extinct.

Leading Dagarvani singers, they are the disciples of Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar and Ustad Zia Mohiuddin Dagar and trained under the guru-sishya parampara at the Dhrupad Kendra in Bhopal.

Dhrupad has descended from a form called Prabadha — a fixed composition of sacred music, which was performed in temples between 12th to 14th century. However, in the 15th century, in the period of Raja Man Singh Tomar it was performed in the royal court in Gwalior and later, established itself as an important style of music in the Moghul court, patronised both by vocalists and binkars.

In tandem

The Gundecha Brothers presented a highly systematised arrangement of musical parts as they began with the ‘sa’ holding it for almost a minute, first as the sound ‘Om’ and then in the tone ‘ananta’ and so on.

The alap was sung with the ‘nom tom’ syllables and from ‘sa’ the voices moved to ‘re’ and back. Their voices alternated and merged so seamlessly that it was difficult to identify them separately.

Their singing pattern presented a contrast too. For instance, as one broke into gamaks the other picked up notes in the lower register and then returned to the middle. The higher notes were touched fleetingly and midh was used to descend. Each note was taken separately in this free-flowing vilambit section. This came to an end with the cadential and syllabic phrase ‘tana to Om’, sung together by both the brothers. The second stage began with a clear sense of rhythm and increase in laya. The frequent use of gamaks gave a strong indication of rhythm-interspersed melody sections. The syllables were eventually delivered with rapidity and in quick succession, without any intervening phrases.

The alap ended by returning to the basic laya and the composition ‘Niranjan Nirakar’ was then rendered. The mukhada was sung twice before the entire sthayi was presented twice. The bolbants were taken from the sthayi and the antara was repeated to return to the sathayi. Kabir’s bhajan ‘Jheeni re jheeni chadriya’ in Charukesi was resplendent with bhakti rasa and made one wonder about the temporary pleasures which worldy indulgences bring.

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.