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Soulful music by Ashwin

Tuesday, November 14, 2017
By Amarendra Dhaneshwar

Those who have watched 'Jalsaghar' – one of the classics directed by the late Satyajit Ray – would recall the wonderful raga 'Tilakkamod' played by Wahid Khan on the 'Surbahar'. 'Jalsaghar' means the music chamber. It is about those feudal times when classical music was enjoyed and patronised by landlords and kings. The 'zamindar' who is passionate about music holds classical music concerts in his private chambers which are decorated with huge chandeliers. One of the eminent performances is the 'Surbahar' player Wahid Khan.

This instrument has fascinated me since the days when I first watched the film in late 1960s. The 'Surbahar' sounds like the 'Rudra Veena' or the 'Been' but is played using the technique of the sitar. The depth of its sound indeed tugs at one's heart strings. It is said that the instrument was devised centuries ago by 'Ustads' who believed the 'Been' playing technique could be passed on only to their sons and not others. They did not want to make 'Ilm' or the priceless knowledge available to those beyond the kith and kin. Whatever the reasons for the origin of the instrument, there is little doubt that it is one of the most elevating musical instruments.

Ashwin Dalvi who hails from Jaipur is a serious musician. Only a serious musician could take up an instrument like the 'Surbahar'. He is a pupil of the most venerable Arvind Parikh. He was presented by 'Kalabharati' in a morning concert last week. He played the raga 'Bilaskhani Todi' on the 'Surbahar'. This raga is attributed to Bilas Khan, son of the legendary Tansen. It is said that he played this raga sitting beside the dead body of his father. That could be the reason that the raga exudes melancholy which again is engaging. The notes 'Komal Gandhar, 'Komal Rishabh' and 'Komal Nishad' add up to make it a raga full of pathos. Ashwin played elaborate 'Alaaps' in the raga and then went on to play the 'Gat' to the 'Pakhavaj' accompaniment by Dipesh Jadhav. It was indeed an absorbing experience.

The world of music lost one more well known personality this week. Dr. Suhasini Koratkar, exponent of the 'Bhendibazar Gharana' passed away in Poona after battling illness for a long time. Koratkar was one of the most dedicated musicians. She was literally single-minded in her pursuit of music. She took to music at a young age and was under the tutelage of the late Trimbakrao Janorikar of the 'Bhendibazar Gharana'. Intensive 'Talim' for years turned her into a competent vocalist. Koratkar was a regular broadcaster and sang in the prestigious 'Radio Sangeet Sammelan' on many occasions.

She represented the near extinct 'Bhendibazar Gharana' and her mastery of that idiom earned her the respect of fellow musicians and the audience in general. She always helped and provided guidance to musicians of the younger generation. 'Macara', a recording company based in Paris has specially recorded some priceless compositions of the 'Bhendibazar Gharana' sung by her in the 1990s. Koratkar was recently given a life time achievement award by 'Gaanvardhan', the institution through which she gave many informative and value-laden lecture demonstrations on music. Glowing tributes were paid to her by the community of musicians.

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