Petal by petal

Vidyadhar Vyas in concert.

Vidyadhar Vyas in concert.   | Photo Credit: 14dfrVidyadharVyas

Vidyadhar Vyas’s concert at the VSK Baithak was a masterful exposition that revealed his chosen ragas in various hues.

Vidyadhar Vyas belongs to the Paluskar tradition of the Gwalior gharana. As is well known, the founders of the gharana — Haddu Khan and Hassu Khan — taught many Hindu students on the express instruction of the Maharaja Daulatrao Scindia. Two of them — Vasudevbua Joshi and Shankar Pandit — came to represent the two branches of the gharana. While Shankar Pandit and his son, the legendary Krishnarao Shankar Pandit, stayed put in Gwalior, Vasudevbua Joshi spread Hindustani Khayal music in Maharashtra through his disciple Balkrishnabua Ichalkaranjikar, the guru of Vishnu Digambar Paluskar. Paluskar and his adversary Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande were the two great modernisers of Hindustani classical music in the last century. While Krishnarao Shankar Pandit’s music was known for its cerebral brilliance, Paluskar introduced bhakti and rasa. He also “purified” old compositions or created new ones to make them palatable to the middle class audiences. In the course of his musical journey, he produced students of the calibre of Omkarnath Thakur, Vinayakrao Patwardhan, Narayanrao Vyas and B. R. Deodhar. Vidyadhar Vyas is the son and disciple of Narayanrao Vyas.

Last Saturday, one had the chance to listen to his riveting performance at the VSK Baithak held in the World Wildlife Fund auditorium. Accompanied by Vinod Lele on tabla and Paromita Mukherjee on harmonium, Vidyadhar Vyas began his vocal recital with Bhoop, one of the favourite ragas of his gharana, and created magic in this pentatonic Kalyan-ang raga that eschews Madhyam and Nishad completely. He chose the famous chaupai from Tulsidas’s Ramcharitmanas — “Jab hi sab nirpat niras bhaye” — that was rendered by Paluskar into Bhoop, favouring it over traditional compositions. Beginning with a short alap, he straightaway tackled the bandish and elaborated the raga in the typical Gwalior style, making good use of behlawa, bol alap, bol taans, aakaar taans, meend and a little bit of gamak. The cadences of Gandhar were truly captivating and so was its coupling with Dhaivat.

Indian classical music, be it Hindustani or Carnatic, is centred around the concept of upaj (on-the-spot spontaneous improvisation) within the established parameters of the raga. As the evening progressed, it became evident that one was listening to an upaj-centric, masterly performance that was aimed at revealing different facets of Bhoop and delving into the depths of layakari. His sparse use of sargam in the taan section lifted the recital to new heights. It did not come as a surprise when Vyas rendered three chhota khayal compositions of the same raga to show it in its various hues. One of them, “Mora jhanjha mandirwa baajelo”, is hardly ever heard these days. In the mid-1980s, this writer had the good fortune to listen to Kumar Gandharva rendering this bandish in his inimitable style. Vyas concluded his Bhoop odyssey with a wonderful tirvat, a musical form that has almost gone out of vogue. It uses the bols of khayal, tarana and pakhawaj and follows different rhythmic patterns.

After giving Bhoop its due, the vocalist moved on to Bageshri Kanhda and sang a traditional bada khayal bandish, “Gore-gore mukh par”. Although it is a shringarik (erotic) composition, the pathos of Bageshri permeated its treatment all through and he developed the raga brick-by-brick in the Gwalior way, yet gave an impression as if he was caressing the notes. His pukar infused an emotional intensity into the performance. He also sang a chhota khayal compositon in the language of the Multan region. Keeping in view the changed season, Vyas offered a playful yet truly traditional version of raga Basant and painted a picture without using the Shuddha Madhyam. He chose the familiar “Phagwa Brij dekhan ko chalo ri” to render vilambit khayal and sang two drut bandishes.

Before concluding his recital with a scintillating Bhairavi tarana, Vidyadhar Vyas sang a bhajan based on raga Nand. Vinod Lele impressed on tabla because of his restrained playing with understanding of the need of the moment, while Paromita Mukherjee offered competent harmonium accompaniment.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 3:32:09 PM |

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