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Reflecting on notes

Shruti Sadolikar, the competent musician of the Jaipur gharana, never tires of urging youngsters in schools and colleges to learn the arts



Shruti Sadollkar: "I had the privilege of sitting on my father's lap and listening to Begum Akhtar."

SHRUTI SADOLIKAR-Katkar — she is on a wonderful journey, one that has given her rewards, far superior to diamonds, she insists. "Every human being should learn at least one performing art. Never mind if they cannot perform, at least they can enjoy the arts, and that is such a peaceful experience!" says the well-known Hindustani vocalist from Mumbai, here in Bangalore as part of her SPICMACAY tour of Karnataka. In fact, she has never tired of urging youngsters in schools and colleges to learn the arts, in the 20 years that she has been associated with SPICMACAY.

"Not everyone has the advantage I had," the musician concedes. "As a kid, I had the privilege of sitting on my father's lap and listening to Begum Akhtar's concerts. And my father, Pandit Vamanrao Sadolikar, was the best teacher any one could have. But the passion to learn and to be committed to music has to come from within."

Shruti who has a master's degree from SNDT, Mumbai, has been learning classical music from childhood. Her father was her first guru, after whom she learnt music from Pandit Gullubhai Jasdanwalla. She is currently learning from Ustad Azizuddin Khan, grandson of Ustad Alladiyan Khan, the founder of the Jaipur gharana. "My people tell me that when I was just one and a half years old, I had learnt by-heart the dialogues of the play my father used to perform!" reminisces the lady. "But my parents were very sensible and never pushed me into singing at every little gathering. They encouraged me to sing only in front of people who really cared for classical music."

Shruti has performed widely in India and abroad, and has several cassettes to her credit. She has also recorded educational CDs and has ventured into other related fields. In 1999, she produced a play for which she set the music too. The play in Marathi was shown all over Holland as part of the Theatre Festival. Her three-hour play, Sangeet Tulsidas, won five awards. At present she holds the Homi Bhabha Fellowship of the NCPA. She sings all forms of classical and semi-classical music, including thumri, tappa, and natya sangeet. Her deeper interest lies in haveli sangeet on which she has worked in a thesis, and given special concerts abroad.

"Classical music concerts have always been patronised by a certain `class' of people, not the masses. I see my audience however small, as a group of people with class, and so it is always a pleasure to perform for them. With students, I sing various kinds of classical music, including bhajans, because it is our duty to inculcate the love for the arts in our children," says the singer. Her son, Shrinidhi Katkar, along with several others, learns music from her.

The singer has performed in Canada, U.S., France, Switzerland, Germany, and in the West Asian countries. She is amazed at the interest shown by foreigners and NRIs to learn the nuances of Indian music. "But we in India have taken our culture for granted. How will the next generation learn to love it if we do not give it the respect that it deserves?" asks Shruti.

After a recent concert in a school, a student came up crying to her saying she wanted to sing but was told that she has a bad voice.

"I feel so bad when I hear such things! My father used to say that any one who could talk, could definitely learn to sing. We just need to instil the liking for classical art forms among our children, and give them enough confidence and encouragement to learn.

So what if everyone isn't born a Lata Mangeshkar? As kids, my parents used to allow us to sit through concerts. It was this discipline which has helped me so much..."

"But music is my life. I find classical music both emotionally and intellectually challenging. It is in my nature to do everything as perfectly as possible, and so I see no point in dabbling in other fields when I have to perfect my music," says the well-read singer. "When I'm not singing, I'm reading everything I can lay my hands on. I think it is very important to be a literate performer, a well-informed performer."

I leave Shruti Sadolikar-Katkar on that note, so that she can get back to her J. Krisnamurti book.

So that she can continue this wonderful journey of knowledge.

So that she may continue to lure others to join her in this musical journey.

MALA KUMAR

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