The rainbow experience

Felicity in fusion Prof. T. N. Krishnan and Dr. N. Rajam performing at the event; (below) Ashwini Bhide

Felicity in fusion Prof. T. N. Krishnan and Dr. N. Rajam performing at the event; (below) Ashwini Bhide   | Photo Credit: Courtesy: Bhai Bal Deep Singh


With maestros sharing their knowledge through theory and practice, Shreshtha Bharat Sanskriti Samagam emerged as an informative festival for art lovers

With the mission to strengthen and propagate all that is living and life sustaining in the Indian culture, the Sangeet Natak Akademi conceived “ Shreshtha Bharat Sanskriti Samagam”, a congregation of the best of scholars and performers from the field of music, dance, drama, tribal and folk arts, puppetry and allied traditions of India, as a unique series of festival spread over all directions of our country. Taking a flying start in the East with the the first ever Sanskriti Samagam in Bhubaneswar, (Odisha) in July, the second Shreshtha Bharat Sanskriti Samagam reached West in Ahmedabad this past week, when the SNA in association with Gujarat University organised the multi-hued festival with seminars at the KCG auditorium and the performances at the Amphitheatre, Gujarat University.

The festival was marked by a combination of seminar sessions and performance of diverse cultural traditions of the country. The morning seminars had scholars from different fields of performing arts enlightening the audience with the nuances of their specific art forms and discussing its past, present and future; while the evenings had corresponding performances.

The auspicious inauguration was followed by the keynote address by Dr. Sonal Mansingh and deliberations by Dr. Deepti Omchery Bhalla - Mohiniyattam, Dr. Sandhya Purecha and Prof. C.V. Chandrashekhar (Bharatanatyam), Sharodi Saikia (Sattriya) and Kumudini Lakhia (Kathak). The second day had scholars like Vasant Nirgune, Vinayak Vishu Khedekar, Kapil Tiwari, Yogesh Gadhvi, Rama Kausalya, Nand Lal Garg and Mohan Swarup Bhati from the field of folk and tribal arts, while the next day had seminar on puppetry and allied arts with Belagallu Veeranna, Rachel Macbeans, Suresh Bharadwaj, Amod Bhatt, Mahendra Kumar and Aditi Desai speaking on their specific work. The seminar on drama had Mahesh Champaklal, Atul Tiwari, Shailaja J., Suryamohan Kulshreshtha, Rajkamal Nayak from Chhattisgarh, K.S. Rajendran and M.K. Raina sharing their experiences and concerns with the enthusiastic audiences.

The seminar on music, chaired by Viraj Amar from Gujarat, had Vidushi Manju Mehta from Gujarat, Dr. Ashwini Bhide Deshpande and Dr. Vidyadhar Oke, Bhai Baldeep Singh and Vidushi Suma Sudhindra.

Speaking on the difference between Shruti, Swara and Naad, Dr. Oke explained how he devised a harmonium which can play 22 shrutis but he also created confusion amongst the discerning audiences because when he referred to as Shruti were actually our Shuddha and Vikrita Swaras. Bhai Baldeep Singh spoke about Gurmat Sangeet categorising three kinds of Gavaiyas (vocalists) - the Bazari Gavaiya, the Darbari Gavaiya and the Nirankari Gavaiya. He explained Swami Haridas and Nanak were the Nirankari Gavaiyas.

Talking about the specialities of Gurmat Sangeet, he demonstrated by singing a Dhamar composed by Ramanand in Tala Pancham Sawari and a very different Jaijaiwanti in “Ram simar..” by Guru Teg Bahadur Singh.

Talking about the past, present and future of veena, Vidushi Suma Sudhindra talked about Mysore veena, Tanjavoor veena, Trivandrum veena and Bobbili veena and finally focussed on Tarangini veena designed by her. The portable veena, which could be dismantled, was created by her; finding the original veena unwieldy for travel. She also talked about the one and only music museum she has curated in Bangaluru.

Khayal singing

Ashwini Bhide

Ashwini Bhide  

Presenting her scholarly paper, Dr. Ashwini Bhide talked about “Khayal Gayan Parampara” the tradition of Khayal singing.

Elaborating on its history, she said it is not very old. “Although Khayal is associated with Amir Khusro nearly 1250 AD but actually it flourished in 18th century in the times of Sadarang and Adarang, even against the popularity of Dhrupad Gayan prevalent in those days. Many styles or Gharanas developed in the past 350 years and I belong to the Jaipur Atrauli Gharana. Khayal means imagination or playing with sur and laya (melody and rhythm). Most of the khayals are composed in Brajbhasha because of its adaptability to singing.”

Ashwini beautifully compared khayal singing to an architectural structure, describing the initial alap barhat towards the Mandra Shadja as the digging of the solid foundation, as the raga vistar proceeds, the architecture seems to be taking shape. The ‘Sam’ after every avartan is the stoppage where the vocalist takes a look, whether the structure is coming up as desired.

After the ragalap, the bol alaap and bol taans are like putting up the roof. The drut bandish and taans are like the ‘shikhar’ which is the most attractive part but it needs the foundation of the whole structure created up till then.

The taan patterns are like filigree. Not only architectural but it is also like the natya because of bhav and rasa, painting because of depicting the bhavas with different colours and even the art of weaving a tapestry or visual art and cooking a delightful dinner and the human being are blessed to practice this art hence its beneficial for humanity. It was a rare opportunity to listen to Ashwini Bhide speaking on music with the same mesmerising magic as her singing.

The evening music performances saw the young audiences in a frenzy of raptures with the Gujrati folk songs by Hemant Rajabhai Chauhan, the Nirgun bhajans by Prahlad Singh Tipanya and sugam sangeet by Purushottam Upadhyay while Begum Parveen Sultana’s Hindustani Classical music and the Carnatic-Hindustani jugalbandi by Prof. T. N. Krishnan and Dr. N. Rajam took them to another plane. Parveen opened with the evening raga Puriya Dhanashri and got the first shower of applause only in the very first alaap when she reached the mandra shadja. Accompanied by Mukund Rajdev on tabla and Shrinivas Acharya on harmonium, she opened with the bada khayal “Lagi mori lagan…” set to vilambit Ektala and proceeded with the alaap, bol alaap and taans in her own enchanting way followed by the popular chhota khayal of the raga “Payaliya Jhanakar…” in Teentala. Mukund Dev reciprocated her rhythmic flair with matching repartees. Thumri Mishra Pahadi “Kaun gali gayo Shyam….” and the concluding Meera Bhajan came as delicious deserts.

Gifted siblings

Prof. T.N. Krishnan accompanied on mridangam by Thiruvarur Bhakthavatsalam and Dr. N. Rajam accompanied on tabla by Akram Khan took the stage thereafter for their Carnatic-Hindustani jugalbandi on violin. Initiated by their legendary father, the gifted siblings later explained their musical styles and how they grew legendary violinists in their particular styles. Opening with Yaman, the most melodious raga of the evening, first Prof. T.N. Krishnan spread the fragrance of Kalyani then Dr. Rajan took it further with the Hindustani elongated swaras and the meditative meends of her Guru Pt. Omkar Nath Thakur’s voice living in her melodious violin. The alaap-jod culminated into the Carnatic composition and Hindustani Bandish in Adi Tala and Teentala respectively.

The Carnatic composition had a lovely ‘Avarohi chalan’ descending gait in ‘Pa Ma Ga Re Sa, Ma Ga Re Sa….” to match the Hindustani elegance of the popular Bandish “Piya ki nazariya jadu bhari…” and both took turns in elaborating the raga with bol alaap and taans before reaching the climax of jhala. The tani avarthanam of the percussions by Bhathavarsalam and Akram showed the choicest nuances of their individual instruments and styles.

The violin duet concluded with “Vaishnav Jan toh…”, the favourite bhajan of Bapu written by Narsi Mehta, the poet also coming from the soil of Gujarat. No wonder they got standing ovation and thunderous applause.

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 12:17:04 AM |

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