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Sarod maestro Manik Khan gave the audience at Kerala Kalamandalam a taste of his talent

Manik Khan

Manik Khan   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

The youngest son of sarod legend Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, Manik is presently on a tour of India

Mid-noon is an odd time for a classical music concert by a musician irrespective of his calibre. It is also seldom cherished even by ardent rasikas. However, maestro Manik Khan transported his small group of listeners into the melodic realm of the sarod at a concert on the Nila campus of Kerala Kalamandalam.

Seated on a small dais in the historic hall of the campus where the institution had its humble beginnings decades ago, Manik started with an alap of raga Gaud Saranga. The selection appeared most befitting since it is usually played during the third prahar (12 to 3 pm).

Gaud Saranga is noted for its vakra scale, which makes use of the two Madhyamas. The raga belonging to the Kalyan thaat creates an air similar to Kedar and sometimes to Behag. Though Sudha Madhyamam is a prominent note, one could see how the meends played by the musician ended at Panchamam and Gadharam. Manik’s explorations of the raga brought out its multiple shades. His agility while sliding the board, pressing the tense strings, produced a sound of high resonant quality.

Notes of sringara

Soft was the use of the plectrum. Though strange to the ears, one could feel a mood of sringara that the raga created. The way the musician negotiated the meandering scale with uncanny ease was commendable. However, the alap was not as extensive as in most Hindustani concerts for want of time. Still it was an exposition of Manik’s mastery over the instrument and the evocation of the raga.

After the alap, he took a composition in Kafi, presumably of his father’s. The raga is sampoorna with Gandharam and Nishadham being komal (Sudha). Kharaharapriya is its Carnatic equivalent. But true to the typical Hindustani practice, an occasional touch on the Anthara Gandharam enhanced its aesthetic appeal. Chandrajit’s accompaniment on the tabla in vilambith tempo of Teen taal was delectable. His beats on the tabla were noted for their clarity and perfect sruti alignment.

The rendition progressed through madhya tempo to reach the drut when a dialogue opened between the sarod and the tabla. This spoke for the dexterity of the tabla artiste who faithfully reproduced the varied phrases performed by Manik on the sarod. Applause from the audience was spontaneous for both the above exercises.

The arrangement for the concert seemed impromptu. Manik could have been provided with a separate microphone the absence of which made his explanations inaudible. The youngest son of the late sarod legend Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, Manik is presently on a tour of India. He is on the faculty of Ali Akbar Khan College of Music in San Rafael, California.

A long-time friend of Kalamandalam from the US, Graeme Vanderstol was instrumental in bringing the sarod maestro to the institution.

Screening of documentaries

Two documentaries were screened before the concert. The first documentary was on Kathakali, which Vanderstol had produced based on the recordings of the Ramayana play staged in the US five decades ago, in which veteran Vazhenkada Kunju Nair had portrayed Rama.

The second one was on Killimangalam Vasudevan Namboothiripad, a scholar of repute who had played a pivotal role in enriching the academic areas of art forms in Kalamandalam during its initial days.

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 2:19:17 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/reviews/manik-khans-spellbinding-sarod-recital-in-thrissur/article30684000.ece

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