Remembering Kishoritai

It’s exactly a year on April 3, since legendary vocalist Kishori Amonkar left us with plenty of melodies and memories. As a tribute, her family is planning a special tribute to Jaane Aj Mi Ajar (Gaanasaraswati in Retrospect), starting from today.

Amonkar’s son Bibhas has curated a photo exhibition which will be launched this evening. Her daughter in-law Bharati will present an Odissi dance recital and her granddaughter Tejashree will render classical ragas. The Hindi translation of Amonkar’s Marathi book Swarathmarani will also be released by theatre doyenne Vijaya Mehta.

“The family decided to do a special dedication this year,” says Tejashree, who was born into a family that lived and breathed music. “Kishori Tai’s disciples would come regularly. Vidya Bhagwat, Maya Upadhye, Raghunandan Panshikar, Nandini Bedekar, violinist Milind Raikar. Plus I would watch how she did her riyaaz,” she adds. Tejashree says she must have started learning as a three-year-old child. “There were lessons in how to understand compositions, how to express each note, the emotion behind the raga. I started with Bhairav and Yaman Kalyan but her whole approach was so scientific,” she says.

According to Tejashree, her grandmother was a perfectionist to the core. She says, “As a teacher, she would be strict. But that was because of her focus. She wouldn’t accept mistakes from disciples. And all her students got equal attention.” When asked if Amonkar was at times moody and temperamental, Tejashree replies, “She was never like that with anyone of us. But before a concert, she strived for total perfection. Nobody could disturb her and she would get upset if people came late or left midway.”

Though Amonkar was largely trained by her mother Mogubai Kurdikar of the Jaipur-Atrauli gharana, she learnt nuances from other schools. “She believed in good and pure music. She never imposed Mogubaiji’s training on us, and wanted us to evolve our own style without compromising on technique or purity,” recalls Tejashree. All students were given special guidance on how to present a concert, she says. “We would learn just by playing tanpura while she sang, or by sitting in the audience,” she explains.

Besides her musical abilities, what were the qualities that set Amonkar apart? Tejashree responds, “There were many. But what comes to mind is that she wanted everyone she knew to have a quest for education. Even if we wanted to be musicians, she emphasised on the power of academic qualifications.”

Gaanasaraswati in Retrospect will be inaugurated this evening at Y.B.Chavan Pratishthan, Nariman Point at 6 p.m. onwards; the photo exhibition will then move to the Jehangir Art Gallery, Kala Ghoda, from April 5 to 10.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2022 9:29:03 AM |

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