The beauty of a bandish

Begum Parveen Sultana performing at Spic Macay’s Anubhav 3   | Photo Credit: SPIC MACAY

Listening to some of the classical music performances held as part of Anubhav-3, the online convention of Spic Macay to celebrate India’s 75th year of Independence, one realised the importance of compositions in the context of refining the mind and spirit that takes place in the pursuit of raag-vidya. Access to the timeless compositions of the Carnatic Trinity from childhood is a blessing for Carnatic musicians. It develops their understanding of the sahitya and the inherent emotion in them. This could enhance their musical expression when they undergo training. This was proved by vidwan T.V. Shankaranarayanan and violin exponent A. Kanyakumari.

Similarly, the bandish (composition) is one of the most intriguing devices to sum up a raag through musical and lyrical nuances. . It is easy to distinguish between a singer whose approach to music is academic and one who goes beyond grammar and syntax to embrace the beauty of the lyrics. Besides systematic training, an aspiring artiste should keep his ear open to all kinds of music — folk, classical and semi-classical. The performances by Begum Parveen Sultana, vidushi Ashwini Bhide Deshpande, Pt. Venkatesh Kumar and Prof. Ritwik Sanyal reiterated this strongly.

Bhava-rich renditions

Opening with raag Yaman on the inaugural evening, Begum Parveen Sultana rendered ‘Aaj mangal gao,’ the bada khayal set to slow tempo of Ektaal and the popular Teentaal bandish, ‘Kal na pare, mori aali.’ She brought out the essence of the raag elaborating the bandish with bol-badhat to boltaan followed by sargam and aakar taans. Even the concluding tarana in Yaman resembled the popular bandish, ‘Main vaari vaari jaaun preetam pyaare’. The thumri in Khamaj, ‘Nadiya kinare mora gaanv’, the bhajan ‘Ram bina na kachhu hoye’ and, on popular demand, the Mishra Bhairavi ‘Bhavaani Dayaani’ were all, of course, shabda-pradhaan’ offerings, where the emotional outpouring delighted the audience along with the rasa-bhava.

Ashwini Bhide Deshpande

Ashwini Bhide Deshpande   | Photo Credit: SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA

Ashwini Bhide Deshpande, whose voice has the delicate touches of breath and inflection that make raags come alive, opened the overnight concert with a soulful rendition of Jhinjhoti. The slow Jhaptaal bandish, ‘Mahadeva Shankar’, rendered with perfect enunciation, had the bol-badhat exploring each word of the traditional composition as if invoking Shiva with fervour. The following tarana in Drut Teentaal with its ‘sam’ on the tuneful taar shadja was a fine transition from Jhaptaal to Teentaal.

Next came the popular Miyan Malhar bandish, ‘Bol re papihara’, famous from the film Guddi, which the singer explained is a 350-year-old bandish composed by Sadarang. She also sang a Drut Ada Chautal bandish by the same composer and in the same raag with an altogether different flavour. This underlined how two bandishes in the same raag may focus on different aspects, evoking contrasting moods. She concluded with a Kabir Nirgun bhajan and one felt her love for the lyrics all through the performance.

Pt. Venkatesh Kumar

Pt. Venkatesh Kumar   | Photo Credit: Spic Macay

Masterly delineation

How a bandish is rendered reflects how the artiste perceives the raag. Pt. Venkatesh Kumar proved this with his masterly rendition of Lalit, Jaunpuri and Deshkar, and finally a Kannada bhajan; although the selection of raags made it sound like a morning concert rather than the midnight when the concert was streamed.

Apart from being a melodic interpretation of a raag, the lyrical content of a bandish often does not inspire engagement because the quality of a bandish is never judged by its lyrics. This was felt with the nonchalant renderings of raags Bhairav and Bairagi by Pt. Prabhakar Karekar although the Nirgun bhajan ‘Ek sur charachar chhayo’ and the Bhairavi bandish ‘Murali wale Shyam’ showed some involvement of the vocalist with the lyrics too.

Ritwik Sanyal

Ritwik Sanyal   | Photo Credit: Spic Macay

Prof. Ritwik Sanyal, the final artiste of the overnight concert, took the stage in the early hours of the morning and very thoughtfully chose the Dhruvapada, ‘Naad-shruti brahma-muhurta mein pargat bhayo’ set to Chartaal in raag Lalit, preceded with a detailed aalapchari of dhrupad ang. Ably accompanied on the pakhawaj by Ankit Parikh, he concluded with a Sooltaal nandish in raag Bhathiyar ‘Bhajman Ram naam, tribhuvan taaran’ and carried the sublime ‘Anubhav’ to its climax.

Over 15,000 young participants experienced the richness of the arts, not just through these performances but also through the intensive workshops conducted by renowned musicians, dancers and award-winning craftspersons for the occasion.

The Delhi-based writer specialises in classical music.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2021 4:10:58 PM |

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