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The same old joy of bandishes


The Punjabi Academy's Festival of Traditional Music was a mixed bag.

SPLENDID PRESENTATION B.S. Narang from Jalandhar

The Punjabi Academy presented a two-day Festival of Traditional Music of Punjab, featuring Punjabi bandishes (compositions) in khayal, thumri tappa, et al at Delhi's India International Centre this past week. Punjabi is said to be the only other language, apart from Braj Bhasha, in which these bandishes are composed over the centuries. Shah Sadarang and Shah Adarang, creators of the Khayal style of classical music, have also composed some Punjabi bandishes that were presented in this festival. With a view to encourage research, presentation and documentation of these bandishes, the Punjabi Academy has made this festival one of its annual features.

The festival was flagged off by Ustad Badar-uz-zaman and Qamar-uz-zaman from Pakistan who presented Punjabi compositions in khayal, thumri and Multani kafis. Recently honoured by the President of Pakistan with Award of Pride and Performance, they were supposed to be in perfect form, but after listening to them one felt that classical music in Pakistan is left far behind with very few opportunities to perform. The focus seems to be more on showing off virtuosity than the aesthetic and spiritual quality of the art.

They started with Atal Gaura which according to them was a special raga of the Kasoor gharana but came out to be virtually Puria Dhanashri without the note Pancham. After presenting two compositions in slow Ek tala and madhya laya (medium tempo) Teen tala, they went on to sing a bandish in Puria Dhanashri itself, so there was hardly any contrast between the two ragas. They, in fact, came into their real form when they switched over to the lighter vein. They had ace artistes like Bharat Bhushan Goswami on the sarangi, and Zahir Khan on harmonium who never got a chance to enhance their performance. Ramzaan Khan on the tabla had a tough time when they sang one whole `aavartan' out of rhythm, starting the `mukhara' from the `sam' instead of `khaali'.

Narang's performance

Prof. B.S. Narang from Jalandhar next compensated in full measure with his superb performance. Trained in the lineage of Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan and the blessings of Ustad Salamat Ali, he had the best of both the stalwarts. He started with the dignified raga Marva, an ideal choice for the evening, with two Punjabi compositions set to Vilambit Ek tala and Madhya Teen tala respectively. The befitting handling with a reposeful alap barhat gradually developing the serene raga, the pleasing sargams, and varied aakar and boltaans were all well conceived and impressively rendered.

Ustad Badaruz- zaman and Qamar-uz-zaman from Pakistan performing at the Punjabi Academy festival.

The next bandishes came in Sohani, and Malkauns preceding the thumri in Sindhu Bhairavi which had the typical flourishes of the Punjab ang thumri. It would have made an ideal concluding item had he dropped the Chandrakauns tarana which was in fact not needed after the lovely thumri.

Ajit Singh's recital of vichitra been, which was invented in the Patiala Durbar, and Pandit Somdutt Battu's vocal recital were the highlights of the next and concluding evening. The brochure published on this occasion had well researched articles on khayal, tappa, dhrupad and tabla styles of Punjab, both in Gurumukhi and English.

Young talents

The remarkable recent performances of two young artistes also need to be mentioned. Jasmeet Kaur from Jammu Kashmir, a worthy disciple of Pandit Rajan-Sajan Mishra captivated the audience by her impressive Pooria Dhanshri at the India International Centre, while Charuta Apte from Aurangabad sang at the India Habitat Centre. Her detailed khayals in Bhoop and Jog followed by a crisp tarana were quite pleasing, but the concluding chaiti was not authentic enough. But for the theka it had nothing to do with the traditional chaiti. Jayaram Potdar on the harmonium of course was an added attraction.

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