Tribute to Shanta Rameshwar Rao

Pushkar Lele.  

On the occasion of Teachers Day, Pushkar Lele, the young vocalist belonging to a fine lineage of Hindustani classical music sang to a small, intimate gathering at ‘Sudarshan’, an old charming heritage building in the midst of bustling Basheerbagh. The event was organised and hosted by Lakshmi Rameshwar Rao to honour ‘The Teacher’ – unsurprising, for the lady hails from a family of illustrious teachers, and is the daughter of Hyderabad’s premier educationist, late Shanta Rameshwar Rao. The day also happened to be Srikrishna Jamnashtami, and Lele was able to pay tribute to both the playful God and the Guru.

The recital was slotted for late afternoon, and the listeners were able to hear the afternoon raga of Bhimpalasi, a somewhat rare occurrence in these days of late starts. Pushkar Lele’s elucidation was slow and sure, as he built layer upon leisurely layer, and then sliding into drut with the popular Ja ja re apane mandirwa...

Lele started learning at the age of three, and studied with the late Pt Gangadharbua Pimpalkhare of Gwalior gharana for eight years. He then took lessons from Vijay Koparkar, a disciple himself of greats such as Vasantrao Deshpande and Pt Jitendra Abhisheki; subsequently he was tutored by Pt Vijay Sardeshmukh and Pt Satyasheel Deshpande, both long time senior disciples of Pt Kumar Gandharva – thus gathering a rare pedigree in classical music. The vocalist also holds a Masters degree in Music from Lalit Kala Kendra, University of Pune.

His second offering was Raga Patmanjari, a blend of five ragas, in which he sang Sajal naina... that was made so popular by Pt Kumar Gandharva. He followed that with a composition in Sohni-Bhatiyar. Raga Sohini tends to be sung at midnight, and Bhatiyar at the break of dawn, and so this raga blend places itself in the small hours of the morning. Appropriately the words sung tell the whole story: Maru ji, bhoolo na mhane... the nayika lies awake bemoaning a lover who hasn’t come.

Then since it was also Srikrishna Janmashtami, Pushkar Lele went on to sing of the Lord with a delightfully playful Dadra with Saanwre aijaiyyo... following that up with a Kannada lyric, Purandara Dasa’s Mooruti yanu niliso.

For a musician claiming the lineage of Pt Kumar Gandharva, a nirguni bhajan was in order and the artist obliged with a beautiful, soulful rendition of Gorakhnathji’s Guruji mai toh ek niranjan dhyaaun ji, dooje ke sang nahin jaaun ji... – the poet-saint is vowing allegiance to the One and only and spurning all talk of the other, that is to say, duality.

The recital ended with what has become something of a signature-song with the artiste: the slowly unfolding Tukaram abhang Laxmi Vallabha. A memorable evening!

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2021 12:34:35 PM |

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