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Juggling with jugalbandis

Jitendra Pratap

The Guru-Shishya-Parampara festival was reduced to a show of fathers and sons.

CONCOCTED RAGA Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia in concert. Photo: RAMINDER PAL SINGH

It would be quite wrong to classify the three-day festival of jugalbandis recently held at the Kamani auditorium, under the aegis of Delhi's Sahitya Kala Parishad, as a Guru-Sishya-Parampara event since it was nothing short of being a Parivar Parampara featuring the maestros and their offspring. It is sad that the present day maestros put all efforts mostly into grooming and later promoting their own offspring. There are several such instances. While Pandit Ravi Shankar of late is totally occupied in promoting his daughter Anoushka, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan is doing the same for his sons Amaan and Ayaan.

The other such instances are Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma and his son Rahul, Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia and his son Rajiv, L.K. Pandit and his daughter Meeta, Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt and his son Salil, Pandit Ram Narayan with his son Brij Mohan and grandson Harsha Narayan, Pandit Bhajan Sopori and his son Abhai Rustam, Pandit Debu Chaudhury and his son Prateek. The only non-family performer at this festival was the female sarangi player, Vasanti Srikhande, a disciple of Pandit Ram Narayan.

Under the present circumstances the future of Indian classical music doesn't seem very bright. The non-family disciples of the gurus, who had been working very hard and totally dedicated to their gurus or ustads, would cease to exist. As such, the likes of Mian Tansen, Baiju Bawara and Alauddin Khan would hardly have emerged.

Too many concerts

Another drawback of this three-day festival was the over crowding of the performing duos, two on each evening. A discerning listener would hardly be able to recapitulate and appreciate the performers' renderings, since there were too many of them. One thus recalls the Parivar Parampara concerts presented by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, about a decade and a half ago, by presenting only one maestro with a disciple per evening. The next performance was presented only a month later.

The festival opened on a sonorous note with Vasanti Srikhande's competent sarangi recital in raga Multani. The slow Teen tala composition based on the khayal "Gokul gaaon" was given a pleasing treatment with bold and neat deployment of the bow and a methodical development of the raga. The fast Teen tala composition was laced with quite a few sparkling taan patterns. Harsha Narayan's sarangi recital in raga Shree pleased only in parts. The raga's mood could have been more lucid though.

Pandit Ram Narayan commenced his recital in the raga Piloo. One would totally disagree with Pandit Ram Narayan's views that the ragas Piloo, Kafi, Khamaj and Bhairavi are melodies of a lighter vein. This may be so with those musicians contained within the framework of thumri-dadra only. But for others like the dhrupad-dhamar and khayal singers, these ragas are as rich, pure and serene as the Bhairavs, Kalyans, Kanadas and Todis. Because of his narrow views about Piloo, he was obliged to take recourse to the ragamala insertions that did not impress either. Delhi's ace percussionist, Pandit Subhash Nirwan, provided commendable tabla accompaniment to all three sarangi players.

Pandit Bhajan Sopori and Abhai Rustam commenced their santoor recital in the raga Kaushik Ranjani, which seemed to be based on the raga Kaushik Kanada with the note Shuddha Gandhar added in the ascending.

The alap-jod sequences were pleasing but for the futile attempts of forced glides which did not go well with the instrument that is basically meant for staccato notes only. Sudhir Pandey was adequate on the tabla.

The flute recital by Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia and his son Rajesh failed to please because of the maestro's oddly concocted raga, which he named Sandhya Shree, blending the ragas Marwa and Shree. One couldn't make out the raga's specific character and contours.

The at-length alap-jor and the nine-beat Matta tala composition did contain some colourful rhythmic variations with lively tabla accompaniment by Vijay Ghate. Chaurasia later rendered a pleasing number in raga Bhopali and concluded with a lively rendering in the folk melody of Pahadi.

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