Hear and now

Hindustani vocalist Sanjeev Abhyankar. Photo: K. Murali Kumar   | Photo Credit: K_Murali Kumar

Back in the 1970s, Indian classical music was characterised by elaborate conferences of artistes that went on for anywhere between a week and a month.

Luminaries of the day would converge at the towns which held these conferences, drawing audiences from neighbouring cities, and each would perform for three to four hours at a stretch. The concerts would often begin with the evening twilight and conclude with the break of dawn the next day.

Today, however, such an affair would be a monumental failure given the change in lifestyle. The music is heard a lot more through speakers in drawing rooms than live. And those that happen live last no longer than a couple of hours, on an average.

The generation that was at its peak some three decades ago has now made way for a new one — a vast majority of which are pupils of the former. Vocalist Sanjeev Abhyankar is one of them. Hailing from Pune, he is a disciple of Pandit Jasraj and has made quite a name for himself on the circuit.

Before speaking about his journey to being the jet-setting classical vocalist that he is today, he tells us how the contours of the genre have changed for his generation. For starters, the genre has become an industry in itself — with competition amongst the fraternity being a major factor. This he attributes to the change in lifestyle that has happened over the years.

“Today, audiences do not have the amount of time they did back in the day. Now, the artistes are expected to touch base with a wide variety of gharanas so they can give their audiences the best of what is out there in a shorter period of time,” explains Sanjeev.

Today, an artiste from any part of the country can reach a listener in any part of the world given the vast choice of media. Consequently, the demand for performances abroad has also risen.

On how he feels about playing across borders, he says, “Although I prefer to perform in cities like Delhi and Kolkata, I believe travelling abroad gives an artiste a wider horizon. Hence, the question becomes ‘why not?' Why shouldn't we seize the opportunity to spread the music?”

Sanjeev was initially trained by his mother from the age of eight.

After a few years, he started training under Pandit Gangadharbua Pimpalkhare in his hometown of Pune before going through a rigorous 12 years under maestro Pandit Jasraj.

Since then, his rise is best measured by the National Award he won for his work on the movie “Godmother” in 1998.

“I am lucky in the sense that after my mother, I was picked up by none other than Pandit Jasraj. That was my turning point. Guruji gave me his best and ensured that I learn the way he wanted me to,” he reflects before expressing a profound gratitude for his guru and his parents.

Sanjeev has also been a judge in a few singing competition in the now prevalent reality television format on a Marathi channel. Sharing the insight the experience brought with it, he believes the participants of such shows usually tread the path too carefully by singing songs which are popular.

“Most of the winners faded from the memory of audiences within three to four years. You need to create your own stamp and for that you require patience, innovation, values and perseverance.”

He likens a recital by a skilled musician to parkaaya pravesh; the legendary ability of a soul to enter a different body.

“You can only do justice with the raga when you merge into it. It is only when you become one with the raga, the raga becomes you and the audience is treated to its purest form.”

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Printable version | Nov 25, 2021 11:48:03 PM |

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