Raining plaudits

ELECTRIFYING Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar .

ELECTRIFYING Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar .  


The Indo Occidental Symbiosis was a marvellous example of innovation with tradition.

Indo Occidental Symbiosis (IOS) surpassed its own standards of splendour. The Malhar Festival, spread over six evenings (at Kala Mandir plus two sessions at Science City auditorium, was perhaps the most spectacular event of classical music in Kolkata.

Each session commenced with a tribute to a legendary musician-guru through documentary films. This festival, featuring seven top-ranking vocalists and as many instrumentalists, essentially revolved around four ragas.

Peaks of brilliance

Khayal exponent Ulhas Kashalkar’s Gaud Malhar emerged as a glittery jewel flashing Malhar-anga and Nat-anga. The meend-laden languorous movements during the detailed introduction and slow vistar (expansion) portrayed the heavy rain-bearing clouds. Intermittent sharp taans appeared to lift up the dark mood and it was raining taans later, each displaying a novel, power-packed permutation with electrifying sparkle.

Kumar Bose, in one of his five fascinatingly disparate avatars as an accompanist during the entire festival, remained unobtrusive initially but warmed up during saath-sangat (interactive spell).

His “singing” tabla enchanted while actually matching the upper tonic of the exhilarating tarana with dramatic thuns.

Kashalkar then moved on to illustrate this ethereal, melodic portrayal of monsoon through the lyrics of a beautiful composition set to Shahana Kanada.

Ajoy Chakrabarty, disarmingly articulate, ventured to trace the origin of Malhar with reference to Meghadootam.

Accompanied by Kumar Bose, whose broad-faced tabla sounded like a high-spirited pakhawaj, he relished presenting a dhamar in Miyan Malhar replete with alap-like raga delineation, thrilling layakari (rhythmic variants) and filigree of sargam (sol-fa). This was followed by a tantalising tarana set to fast Teen tala. The erudite vocalist presented a short and sweet Dhulia Malhar, rarely heard Sorath Malhar and a self-composed, highly emotive thumri in Meerabai ki Malhar.

While Kishori Amonkar and Pandit Jasraj interpreted Miyan Malhar according to their own emotional outlook with incredible virtuosity, the alap-jod-jhala by Debojyoti Bose (sarod) treaded the traditional path. Gaud Malhar was Amonkar’s second choice — and Prabhakar Karekar’s lacklustre first.


Amjad Ali Khan (sarod), Shahid Parvez (sitar) Parveen Sultana and Rashid Khan (vocalists) rendered Megh with distinct dissimilarity in raga delineation. Desh, though not in the Malhar clan, was preferred by Amaan Ali Khan (sarod) and Budhaditya Mukherjee (sitar).

Amjad Ali Khan also presented his latest creation Sawani Malhar, a blend of Desi with Malhar. F

our ragas jostled within Chaturang Malhar played by Kartik Kumar (sitar). Jayant Malhar by Soumitra Lahiri (sitar) was essentially Jaijaiwanti with a whiff of Ga Ma Re Sa.

Arvind Azad, Lahiri’s tabla accompanist, delighted with his brilliant solo rounds instead. Tabla exponents Shubhankar Banerjee, Abhijit Banerjee, Yogesh Samsi and harmonium wizards Sohanlal Sharma, Jyoti Goho and Debaprasad Dey were other supporting pillars of this grand extravaganza.


*There are over a dozen well-known Malhar ragas. Musicians claim to create more by blending two or more ragas. The rule of thumb is: a combination of raga elements must not appear as patches and should be justified with eloquent compositions.

*Tansen created Miyan Malhar. It sports the same notes as Bahar but is sombre by nature and delves deep in the lower octave.

*Different gharanas emphasise on different angas of Gaud Malhar, a popular raga immortalised by Pandit Mallikarjun Mansoor.

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