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Pt. Mani Prasad brought alive the flavour of the past

Pt. Mani Prasad with  Ustad Akram Khan (tabla), and  Deepak Prasad (Harmonium).

Pt. Mani Prasad with Ustad Akram Khan (tabla), and Deepak Prasad (Harmonium). | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Expressing his gratitude for the recognition of his lifelong sadhana, he opened with raag Purvi, hardly heard on the concert stage these days. He introduced this sandhi-prakash (dusk time) raag as “one of the favourite raags of my family.” He hails from a family of classical musicians, who were originally from Rajasthan, but moved to Maharashtra. His father, Pt. Sukhdev Prasad, was a ganda-bandh shagird of Ustad Waheed Khan, one of the founder-musicians of Kirana gayaki.

Trained in Kirana gayaki

Groomed by his father in Kirana gayaki, Mani Prasad was initially trained by his grandfather, Pt. Shakti Lal, and by his uncles, Pt. Shankar Lal and Pt. Gopal Prasad. He began performing at a very early age and is a top grade artiste of All India Radio and Doordarshan. He has created not only new raags like Dhyaan-Kalyan, Dhyaani-Todi, Shiva-Kauns and Bhoopeshwari; but has also composed many bandishes under the pseudonym, ‘Dhyaan Rang Piya’.

All this came through in his performance that evening, when he began with an authentic rendition of raag Purvi with a bada and a chhota khayal in slow and medium tempo respectively, with bol-aalap, barhat, behelawa followed by a variety of scintillating taans.

The composition in raag Sohini came next, ‘Eri Yashoda tose karoongi larai’ was replete with not just sargam and aakar taans, but also the complicated ‘Bidar ka kaam’ that moved in circles like a top on each of the descending notes.

The Bandish ki Thumri, ‘Koyaliya kook sunave’ came as a melodious contrast after the komal swaras of Sohini. The veteran vocalist then sang a teasing tappa in Kafi to acquaint his listeners with the twists and turns of the challenging form, before presenting a ‘Tappa ang ki Thumri’ in raag Tilak Kamod. It was surprising to find the harmonium player unable to catch the chalan of Tilak Kamod and in Khamaj.

Rare compositions

The veteran made the most of the concert, since he does not perform regularly, by choosing to sing rare works.

A revered guru, his disciples include Maharaja Ranjeet-Pratapsingh Gaekwad of Baroda, Savita Devi (daughter of the renowned thumri singer Siddheshwari Devi), Rita Ganguly, Ramesh Jule, Ravi Jule, Pt. Vishwanath, Uma Garg, Surinder Kaur and Chandan Das etc.

Invited by the Government of Karnataka, Mani Prasad is presently a guru at the Gangubai Hangal gurukula in Hubli. He even taught Lata Mangeshkar the popular song in raag Maand, ‘Suniyo ji araj mhari’ from the film Lekin. “Her father, Dinanath Mangeshkar, was my father’s disciple. Music director of the film, Hridaynath Mangeshkar (Lata’s brother), had changed and added a few words, but I will sing the original bandish for you,” he said.

He was accompanied on the tabla by Ustad Akram Khan, on the harmonium by Deepak Prasad and vocal support was by his kins and disciples. He concluded with a beautiful Maand composition with spontaneous improvisations that enthralled the audience.

The Delhi-based reviewer writes on classical music.


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Printable version | Aug 5, 2022 4:24:29 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/reviews/pt-mani-prasad-brought-alive-the-flavour-of-the-past/article65341730.ece