An offering of ragas

L.K. Pandit.  

It was an unusual concert where three Delhi vocalists offered their musical tributes to a legendary singer. Even more remarkable was the fact that two of them — Uma Garg and Surinder Singh — had no gharana connection with the great musician and it was only their love of music and reverence for him that had drawn them to the concert organised by Swar Samarpan recently at the Hindi Bhavan auditorium in New Delhi to commemorate the 115th birth anniversary of the late Omkarnath Thakur.

Before Omkarnath Thakur emerged as one of the most significant vocalists of the 20th Century, the gayaki of the Gwalior gharana was famous for its masculine, forceful and open-throated singing that had a preponderance of taans, especially of the sapaat variety. However, it was not much known for its emotional content. Omkarnath Thakur, one of the most talented disciples of Vishnu Digambar Paluskar, removed this lacuna and acquired all-India fame in pre-Partition India. Following in the footsteps of his guru, he too was closely associated with the Congress-led freedom struggle and sang at many an AICC session. When India saw the first dawn of freedom, it was Omkarnath Thakur who sang Bankim’s “Vande Mataram” on All India Radio. These days, his inimitable gayaki can be heard in the violin recitals of his famous disciple N. Rajam.

L. K. Pandit happens to be the senior most vocalist of the Gwalior tradition today. His grandfather Shankar Pandit learnt from the founders of the gharana — Haddu Khan, Hassu Khan and Natthu Khan — and also from Natthu Khan’s adopted son Nisar Husain Khan. However, it was L. K. Pandit’s father and guru Krishnarao Shankar Pandit who mesmerised the music world by his extraordinary talent, unbounded musical imagination and spell-binding virtuosity.

As the last artiste of the evening, L. K. Pandit sang Ramdasi Malhar and Gaud Malhar to provide a befitting finale to commemoration such a great vocalist’s memory. He prefaced his recital bysaying that his father and Omkarnath Thakur were very good friends and held largely similar views on music. He also briefly spoke of his own close association with him and remembered him with great affection and respect.

L. K. Pandit began his recital with a slow tempo khayal in Tilwada, “Ghata ghan aaye, chamak chamak bijuri chamke”. He developed the vilambit composition in Ramdasi Malhar in the trademark Gwalior style known as ashtaang (eight-part) gayaki and sang the shtayi and antara together. The Gwalior vilambit is in fact closer to madhyalaya. He attempted the step-by-step elaboration of the raga — a variant of Malhar that uses both the gandhars as well as both the nishads — by employing the behlawa so typical of his gharana. He paid equal attention to alap, bol alap and bol taans and displayed an astonishing variety of taans that were laced with all the graces like murki, meend and gamak. Close to 80, his voice did not show any effect of aging.

He then moved on to offer a fast tempo Teen taal composition, “Kaare badra ghumand aaye” in the same raga and impressed with a profusion of forceful bol taans. However, one felt that the rendition of the drut composition was a little less impressive. L. K. Pandit concluded his recital with a scintillating Gaud Malhar, “Jhuki aayee badariya savan ki”. Like always, veteran tabla maestro Faiyaz Khan provided superb accompaniment while Ali Akbar’s attempts on harmonium left much to be desired.

Kirana gharana vocalist Uma Garg, a disciple of Mani Prasad, opened the evening with her recital of Puriya Dhanashri and a Khamaj thumri followed by another vocal recital by Surinder Singh Sachdeva, a disciple of the legendary Amir Khan, who rendered Bihag and a Multani Kafi.

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Printable version | Sep 13, 2021 3:43:39 PM |

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