Festival like a breeze, music like rains

No Malhar yet it was a treat for the ears at the four-day music festival to mark the birth anniversary of Vishnu Digambar Paluskar.

August 20, 2015 03:22 pm | Updated March 29, 2016 04:23 pm IST

Manjusha Patil Kulkarni

Manjusha Patil Kulkarni

A four-day music festival to mark the 143rd birth anniversary of Vishnu Digambar Paluskar concluded this past week at India Habitat Centre in New Delhi. Organised jointly by Gandharva Mahavidyalaya and Saraswati Samaj, this annual event has come to occupy a special place in the cultural life of the Capital as it is one of the oldest and most prestigious music festivals in Delhi and is known for providing platform to young talents along with established masters. To underline the oneness of Indian music, it always features at least one exponent of the South Indian or Carnatic style of music.

As is well known, Vishnu Digambar Paluskar, who was born on August 18, 1872 in Kurundwad in Maharashtra, was one of the most outstanding musicians of his time and had played a singularly important role in popularising Hindustani classical music among middle classes, thus making it a respectable profession. He opened the first of the many Gandharva Mahavidyalayas in 1901 in Lahore and trained a group of students such as Vinayakrao Patwardhan, Omkarnath Thakur, Narayanrao Vyas and B. R. Deodhar who attained excellence as performing artistes and musicologists.

The first day’s proceedings began with a competent rendering of the evergreen raga Yaman by young Samrat Pandit, son and disciple of the late Jagdish Prasad who had learnt the Patiala gharana gayaki from Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. He sang a bada khayal “Sumran Tero” in vilambit ek taal and went on to elaborate the raga in a leisurely pace that became, at times, rather too leisurely for a Patiala singer. Endowed with a deep, well-cultivated and robust voice, he displayed his mastery over laya and taal and did justice to this popular Kalyan thaat raga that employs all the notes and has several nyasa swaras. His bol taans and aakar taans were charming and he tried some complex taan patterns too. However, he would gather steam, move forward with gusto and then suddenly lose some of it. What impressed in such a young singer was his serious approach to music and sincere effort to present whatever he could. He sang a drut ek taal chhota khayal “Binati Mano Piya Mori” and, as is the vogue in Patiala gharana, used a surfeit of sargam syllables. He concluded his recital with the famous Manjh Khamaj thumri of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan “Kankar Maar Jagaye Gayo Re” but succeeded only partially to create an impact. However, one felt convinced that he had the potential to emerge as a significant artist in due course. He was accompanied by Vinod Lele on tabla and Vinay Mishra on harmonium.

Gaurav Majumdar, a disciple of the great Ravi Shankar, chose the midnight raga Darbari Kanhda and played alap followed by a vilambit teen taal gat and a madhyalaya gat in Sughrai. He made a good presentation of his training in the Senia Beenkar style as practised by the stalwarts of the Maihar gharana. While he successfully created the gravitas-filled impact of the raga, his sitar somehow was not eloquent enough. After Darbari Kanhda, he opted for an auchar in Mishra Pilu and played a self-composed gat. Ajrada gharana maestro Akram Khan offered excellent tabla accompaniment.

Like Samrat Pandit, Odisha’s flautist Srinibas Satapathy was a real find of the festival. A disciple of Mohini Mohan Pattanaik and Rajendra Prasanna, he also chose Yaman for his recital and rendered it in a very serious, tuneful and well-rounded manner, playing alap-jod and a gat based on the popular bandish “Sakhi E Ri Aali Piya Bin”. Kulamani Sahoo provided adequate accompaniment on tabla.

Over the past several years, Manjusha Patil Kulkarni has emerged as a truly dazzling vocalist. Her taiyari as well as musical attitude are very impressive. Trained by Chintubua Mhaiskar and D. V. Kanebua, she combines the styles of the Agra and Gwalior gharanas. Her later training under Vikas Kashalkar, Narendra Kanekar and Ulhas Kashalkar has gone a long way in lending her singing the polish that is essential to every successful performing artiste. Manjusha opted for Bihag and sang a vilambit tilwada taal bada khayal “Dhan Dhan Re” followed by a drut teen taal chhota khayal “Lat Uljhi Suljha Ja Balam”. The bal-pech of her taans, that sometimes seemed never-ending, and her phirat were really mesmerising. She moved on to a drut khayal in Bageshri followed by a popular thumri “Ab Ke Sawan Ghar Aaja”. Her bol-banao and the effortless rendering could have been the envy of professional thumri-dadra singers. She concluded her recital with a Meera bhajan. She was accompanied brilliantly by Chinamay Kolhatkar on harmonium and Mandar Puranik on tabla.

Jayateerth Mevundi is one of those vocalists who have made their mark in the past decade. A kirana style exponent, he too has an impressive array of vocal techniques at his command. He opened his recital with a chaste rendering of a vilambit ek taal bada khayal in Puriya Kalyan “Aaj So Bana” in vilambit ek taal and a chhota khayal “Bahut Din Beete” in drut teen taal and took the audiences off their feet by the display of his amazing taiyari. He followed it up with a drut ek taal khayal in Shankara and a Bhairavi Bhajan “Jo Bhaje Hari Ko Sada”. The only jarring aspect of his singing was too much likeness with Bhimsen Joshi’s.

Carnatic veena player Jayanthi Kumaresh, sarod maestro Ranajit Sengupta and renowned vocalist Ashwini Bhide Deshpande were the other artistes who performed in the festival. One was a little disappointed as not one Malhar was heard in four days.

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