A resounding response

Bombay Jayashri’s meditative approach and Shubhendra Rao’s experiments with sitar marked the annual Arthshila Sangeet Samaroh in Patna

Patna is known for the glorious music festivals held in the city that are still reminisced by old timers. Keeping up with its past tradition, the Takshila Educational Society has been organising its annual music festival, comprising vocal, instrumental and dance; on the auspicious occasion of Kartik Purnima every year.

This year, the two-day Arthshila Sangeet Samaroh was held on 4th and 5th November at the open air theatre of the Delhi Public School in Patna. The enthusiastic audience enjoyed the musical feast on both the evenings despite the ‘ras-bhang’ created by the intruding noise of the loudspeakers amplifying the pravachan next door to unbearable decibel levels.

It took Bombay Jayashri quite some time to concentrate on the musical strains of the electronic and the traditional pair of tanpura, against the noise of loudspeakers to find out her aadhaar shruti, before opening the festival with “Shri Maha Ganapati Avatu Maam…”, a composition of Muthuswami Dikshitar in raga Gaula. But once she took off with the invocation, the unmusical elements drowned in her meditative musicality. She proceeded with full gusto along with her distinguished set of accompanying musicians in Mysore Srikanth on violin, Manoj Siva on mridangam and B. S. Purushotham on kanjira.

The detailed alapana in raga Begada for the next composition set to Adi taal was followed by the main ragam-tanam-pallavi in Carnatic Bhairavi, which sounded quite different from its Hindustani counterpart. Srikanth’s violin did wonders following Jayashri’s ragam-tanam before she started the Pallavi. The deep sounding kanjira added charm to her Pallavi set to Tisra-Triputa talam and the concluding thani-avartanam, where the mridangam and kanjira artistes showed their track record in taking turns and the sawal-jawab. Jayashri concluded her melodious vocal recital with a devotional Thiruppavai in Hindustani Bhairavi that got her earnest applause.

Sitarist Shubhendra Rao was the other artiste of the inaugural evening who also had a tough time struggling against the loud speakers.He chose Hemant for his main raga, a favourite of the Maihar Gharana, that is supposed to be created by Ustad Allauddin Khan, the revered Guru of Shubhendra’s Guru Pandit Ravi Shankar. Shubhendra opened with the conventional alap-jod-jhala but he was hardly audible especially during the kharaj-laraj ka kaam in the lower octave. Things improved when the ace tabla player Pandit Parimal Chakravarty from Kolkata joined him in the slow and fast compositions set to Rupak and Drut Ek taal respectively. Credit goes to Shubhendra for maintaining Drut Ek taal in the fast speed of jhala as well, without shifting to Teen taal for convenience sake. Parimal, a brilliant disciple of late Pandit Shankar Ghosh, gave him superb sangat (accompaniment), both in the main raga and the following Mishra Gara. Shubhendra did a good job in treating the raga in khayal ang, instead of the thumri style which this raga is normally used for.

Delightful contrast

Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar opened the next evening with raga Hameer. Normally this raga is used as a second choice after the main raga, but Pt. Kashalkar accompanied by Pandit Suresh Talwalkar on tabla and Vinay Mishra on harmonium did a splendid job of treating it in great detail. He opened with the matchless bada khayal, “Chameli Phooli Champa…” set to a slow jhumra theka, kept on the broad faced tabla by Talwalkar, that sounded like a pakhawaj with its deep resonance. The alap barhat and behlawa in the rendition of this nostalgic evening raga, reflected the regal gait of the traditional composition.

Sohani was a melancholic contrast after the vibrancy of Hameer. The composition set to Rupak taal describing a Khandita Nayika “Jiyara Re, Kal Nahin Paye. Sagari Rain Jage, Kahe Ab Tum Aaye…” was rendered with such sensitivity that touched the hearts of the absorbed listeners.

Manjari Sinha

THE HINDU, 10 NOV 2017