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A fitting tribute

Wednesday, August 22, 2018
By Amarendra Dhaneshwar

Ustad Nizamuddin Khan was one of the greatest tabla players of the 20th century. He excelled in solo tabla as well as in accompaniment. We have seen him donning all kinds of hats. His strokes had tremendous power as well as 'nazakat' which means a delicate touch. He accompanied great musicians like Mallikarjun Mansur, Sharadchandra Arolkar, Vilayat Khan, Halim Jaffer Khan and Shobha Gurtu. Pandit Krishnarao Shankar Pandit was a towering figure among vocalists. He belonged to the purest of the pure tradition of the Gwalior gharana.

His long life of 97 years was full of great achievements. It was the late Omkarnath Thakur who called him the ultimate authority on the Gwalior gharana and its style of singing. The memory of these two giants is being kept alive in this metropolis by Khayal Trust that hosted the two-day festival at the plush Veer Savarkar Auditorium over the last weekend. It was organised by Taj Mahal Tea and Indian Oil, as well as ITC/SRA Western India. The Maharashtra Times Culture Club were the media partners.

Despite the gloom occasioned due to the demise of former Prime MinisterAtal Bihari Vajpayee and legendary cricketer Ajit Wadekar, there was a noticeable sense of relief with which the audience responded to the excellent performances by all artistes.

Neela Bhagwat, a torch-bearer of the Gwalior gharana with which Pandit was associated sang the 'Yaman Kalyan khyal' 'Jiyo Karo Kot'. It was presented with the sense of purity which one expects from a Gwalior singer. The glissandos and 'gamaks' which decorated the 'khyal' were typically in the Gwalior mould. Since it was a performance in memory of Nizamuddin, she thought it would be appropriate to render 'Mandal Bajo', a medium tempo composition which was full of tabla syllables. Akram Khan of the Ajarada gharana is a leading tabla exponent of the country. He was outstanding in his solo tabla recital. He played some choicest 'gats' from the Punjab and Ajrada gharana. What amazing clarity and speed. It was a fitting tribute to the tabla maestro!

It is really strange that Mormukut and Manoj Kedia, the famous Kedia brothers from Giridih in Jharkhand, have never performed before in Bombay. The sarod/sitar duet which they presented was par excellence. They played the raga 'Yaman Kalyan'. They showed superb complementarity and understanding. Their music was quintessentially a 'Maihar' gharana special. They also played a 'gat' based on a light classical raga. They were accompanied on the tabla by Arvind Kumar Azad who is a maestro himself. He was superb as usual. Nabanita Chowdhary from Delhi sang the raga 'Bihag'. 'Kaise Sukh Sove', the slow 'khyal' was elaborated with a sense of discipline. Her 'Savan Ki Ritu', a 'Kajri' in the raga 'Manj Khamj' had a romantic touch. The festival concluded with a terrific vocal performance by the star singer Manjusha Patil who sang 'Sakhi Man Lagena' in 'Bageshri'. Manjusha sang in a ringing voice and her 'taan' patterns were well crafted and delivered at a supersonic speed. Bhushan Parchure, Tejovrush Joshi (tabla), Sidddhesg Bicholkar (harmonium), and Farroque Latif and Sandeep Mishra (sarangi) offered splendid support. Padmaja Patil Dighe compered the show with grace.

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