FRIDAY REVIEW

Brief recital, short shrift

JITENDRA PRATAP

THE DUO Hindustani vocalists Pandits Tejpal Singh and Surinder Singh.

THE DUO Hindustani vocalists Pandits Tejpal Singh and Surinder Singh.  

In August this year, the President, APJ Abdul Kalam, presented the Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards for 2004 to several eminent Indian artistes for their rich contributions to the performing arts. The Sangeet Natak Akademi award for the well-known duo of Hindustani vocalists Pandits Tejpal Singh and Surinder Singh, popularly known as the Singh Bandhu, was a joint (sanyukta) award.

It was thus quite odd to observe that the musical evening at the Chinmaya Mission auditorium, organised by Meher Media and supported by Max Healthcare, felicitated only the younger Surinder Singh and totally ignored the elder Tejpal Singh, which indeed is a pity. Tejpal may not be performing for the time being for reasons of health, but that should not be the reason for excluding him. Some of his highly trained pupils could have performed instead, as did Surinder Singh's student Abhimanyu.

One understands the awards are given to individuals and groups for their lifetime achievements and contributions in their respective professions.

It was thus quite strange that Pandit Tejpal Singh, the senior of the Singh Bandhu duo, was totally ignored for the Padma Shri Award for the year 2003, which was however awarded to his younger sibling, Pandit Surinder Singh.

The audience response to the evening was rather poor, with barely two-and-a-half dozen in attendance. This could be attributed to the severe cold weather and the venue being not yet so popular, even though it has an excellent ambience.

The programme commenced nearly an hour and a quarter behind the scheduled time, with the chief guest Dr. Karan Singh entering the venue well past 7 p.m. The recitals actually commenced after another 30 minutes.

It was a short and succinct rendering by young Abhimanyu with two Teen tala khayal compositions and a tarana in the raga Bhopali, for which he had commendable accompaniment on the harmonium by Rehman Qureshi and on the tabla by Subhash Nirwan.

Pandit Surinder Singh commenced his recital in the raga Bihag with Shah Sadarang's composition "Kaise such soveyen needariya" in a leisurely-paced 14-beat time cycle of Jhumra tala.

It was an erudite handling of the raga and the lyrical contents that the singer presented at good length, with leisurely developed badhat, sargams and bol-taans.

The next rendering, also in Bihag with yet another Shah Sadarang composition, "Lat uljhi, suljha jaa balam" set to madhya Teen tala, was redolent with liltingly inserted variations and colourful tihais. One however wished his voice had acquired some warmth and clarity, which it eventually did in his renderings in the raga Malkauns with a composition of Ustad Aman Ali Khan of Bhendi Bazar fame, "Pagawa laagan guru ke" set to madhya Teen tala, followed by a brisk tarana set to drut Ek tala was an impressive finale with his voice sounding quite mellifluous by now.

He had a plethora of accompanists with Asif Ali (sarangi), Jayaram Potdar (harmonium) and Subhash Nirwan (tabla).

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