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Pleasing only in parts

JITENDRA PRATAP

Sanjay Mallick's Dhrupad presentation in New Delhi the other day was endowed with a powerful voice, but not so wiser choice of ragas



MILES TO GO Sanjay Kumar Mallick needs to be choosy in ragas.

Sanjay Kumar Mallick presented a Dhrupad recital this past week at the India Habitat Centre. It was a part of the HCL Concert Series, being regularly presented for the past six years at the Centre, with two music recitals and two dance performances each month. Sanjay is the son of Pandit Abhay Narayan Mallick and the grandson of the legendary Dhrupad maestro and late doyen of the Darbhanga gharana of Dhrupad singers, Pandit Ram Chatur Mallick. Sanjay received his earlier training from his illustrious grandfather and later on from his father.

There is much in common among the Dhrupad singers of Rampur in Uttar Pradesh and those of Darbhanga in the Mithila region of Bihar. Whereas the Rampur tradition was nurtured by the descendants of the legendary Mian Tansen, the Darbhanga maestros received their training directly from the ustads belonging to the Tansen dynasty. Both the streams strictly adhere to the Gobarhaar bani or the Suddha bani (the pure style), known for its simple nuances and sonorous utterances. Both the streams of the two dynasties strictly adhere to the chaturang, or the four stages of rendering the alap and the dhrupad compositions, which are the sthayee, antara, abhog and the sanchari.

Vital difference

However, there is a vital difference in their manner of performing. Whereas the Senias of Rampur, as well as the Dagar family, sing with only the tanpuras and a pakhawaj for accompaniment, the Darbhanga singers in addition, take recourse to the sarangi or the harmonium, and, at times even both for their accompaniment. This does have an adverse effect on the serenity and sobriety of the Dhrupad's regal appeal. Interestingly, the late doyen of the Indore gharana, Ustad Amir Khan, invariably performed khayals and taranas with only the tanpuras and the tabla for accompaniment. Very rarely, he had a subdued harmonium accompaniment, but, the sarangi, almost never. Sanjay's Dhrupad recital was overshadowed by Bharat Bhushan Goswami's superb sarangi accompaniment. In spite of Sanjay being endowed with a powerful voice, it at times sounded rather wavering, which probably explains his over-dependence on the sarangi accompaniment.

One wished the artiste had avoided the hybrid raga Saraswati to commence his recital of the evening. This raga is basically of Carnatic origin with the notes suddha Rishabh, teevra Madhyam, Pancham, suddha Dhaivat and the komal Nishadh. The combination of the notes teevra Madhyam and komal Nishadh is not permissible as per the ancient music treatises of the North. The raga Yaman in which he rendered the next dhrupad, "Janani jagvanditaa" would have ideally suited as the opening number for an at-length rendition. The dhrupad in raga Saraswati, preceded by the chanting of a Sanskrit shloka, pleased only in parts, whereas the one in raga Yaman was comparatively a much more pleasing rendering. So also was the dhrupad in the pentatonic raga Durga, "Mata Durge". It was rather unusual for a Dhrupad singer with Sanjay's rich background to feel shy of rendering a dhamar or a Sool Tala composition, which demands more of rhythmic prowess for entering into a battle with the pakhawaj player - in this instance, Ranu Mallick, who was indeed adroit on the rhythm.

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