For the veteran of Jaipur gharana, Alka Deo Marulkar, music is meditative contemplation. The new tricks of the trade hardly inveigle her pure pursuit
CONTINUOUS PROCESS The journey is as important as the goal.
“Sing with sincerity and be your own audience,” says Alka Deo Marulkar, the Hindustani vocalist of Agra gharana. “Classical music needs a hands-on approach and cannot come by merely getting a university degree in it – rigorous practice for about four to five hours a day and constant meditative contemplation on a raga is required for the music to be of high quality”, adds the sincere musician who trains a number of students privately and through Goa’s Kala Academy (in the capacity of Director) with her scientific teaching methodology.
She speaks of a time when the artiste submitted like a fakir to music. “Today, the trend is quite different – artistes give importance to the marketing of their product, publicity and handsome remuneration; this has led to insecurity among artistes. While on the one hand this market orientation has resulted in a professionally perfect artiste , it has also given rise to a mind-set that cashes on tried and tested stuff,” says this second generation artiste, who, as it appears, not only focuses on the goal, but enjoys the journey as well.
Describing Jaipur-gharana’s signature style as “Ras (eloquence) and Kas (concise/precise gist),” Dr. Alka enumerates Jaipur gharana’s salient features as singing jod-raga (double raga), serpentine taan, projection of the space between two rhythm cycles (taal), singing equivalent vakra taans for vakra ragas (if a raga doesn’t have a straight forward ascending/descending scale, then how can a taan be straight forward she questions?), and a bandish that is tautly wound around the cycle of beats. “In this gayaki, the raga can be seen objectively without the influence of the personality rendering it,” adds this sought-after artiste. Differentiating Jaipur gharana from others, she feels laya is dealt in “a subtle way, with a meandering of notes” and is ‘somewhere in between a more relaxed Kirana/Patiala gharana (with respect to laya), and a more laya focused Agra gharana.”
Alka draws her inspiration from her gurus - father Gaan Ramaiyya Pt. Rajabhau Deo (the outstanding vocalist of Gwalior, Kirana and Jaipur gharanas) and Pt. M.S. Kanetkar (veteran artiste of Jaipur gharana). She remembers being taught bandish-es by her father at age four. “My father had a vision for me to be an artiste and I have absolutely no regrets that he made that decision for me. I hadn’t thought of it as a profession then, but I knew I had to be a cut above the ordinary. Fame and money were not at all the considerations,” adds this A-grade AIR artiste for whom music is ‘tapasya’.
She adds that the best gayaki of the three gharanas was taught to her by her father and at 35, her own style began to emerge. A few years later her gayaki had crystallised with its hallmark purity of raga, accuracy and precision with laya, melody, and above all the ability to transcend her audiences to a divine plane.
Her own style can be described as aesthetic, imaginative, yet highly intellectual, replete with lilting lyrical expressions, emotive appeal and fresh interpretation, qualities that set her in a class of her own. Her well-received creations like ragas Anand Kalyan, Jogeshri and Shyam-Malhar stand testimony to her brilliance.
In addition, she has composed and tuned several bandish-es, and has brought out albums which are tuned and sung by her, like “Premanjali” – a compilation of Meera bhajans and “Madhugat” – a selection of Marathi poetry.
Here is one maestro who not only believes in putting her soul into music, but being a pure-soul too!
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