Tuesday, 12 January 2010

The Sawai Experience- Day 4

After witnessing the spectacle that was the 57th Sawai till the third day, i was extremely anxious for the fourth and the final day to start. Infact I was so anxious that I couldnt sleep the previous night- the result I woke up rather late, and started half an hour late than what I had planned. I reached at about 8.45- 45 minutes after the event had started.

The first performance was by Pt. Raja Kale, who started off with what i recognized from outside the grounds to be Todi. Once again, after an inspection less entry, and an easyily found place, I sat analysing the todi. Initially I was under the impression that it was Gujri Todi. However, it clearly had a P in it, and on closer inspection, I realised it was Miyan-ki-Todi. This was followed by a bandish in Alhaiya Bilawal.He then follwed it up with Raag Bhatiyar Bhairav. I failed to recognize this Raag, although I could make out individual elements from Bhairav as well as Bhatiyar. Rajabhau concluded his performance by singing the Bhajan "Sagun Sampoorna Pandharichya Raya".

The early morning to late morning transition, was filled by Ustad Shahid Parvez, who is a 7th generation Sitar player in his family! According to some Sawai experts, he was performing on the stage after a gap of 15 years. And trust me when I say this, he did not disappoint. He started his performance with Raag Nat Bhairav, which I was, thankfully, able to identify after just 1 minute into the performance!The meend work was exquisite. The jod were sublime, jhala simple and controlled. Infact, the whole performance was so intricately woven that at the end it left the spectators speechless. As Anand Deshmukh rightly said " शाहिद भैईंची सतार बोलली, श्रोते जाले निःशब्द". It was a super sensational performance!
 After the enthralling piece of music by Ustad Shahid Parvez, the torch was passed on to Pandita Girija Devi. She came out t be an extremely sweet lady, her voice extremely beatutiful, and the force with which she could sing at an herculean age of 81 quite extraordinary. She started off her performance by singing Raaj Jaunpuri. In between the performance, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi arrived in the mandap in his car. On coming to know about his arrival, Girija Devi did get quite emotional, and even shed a tear or two. After finishing off Jaunpuri, she personally went to Meet Bhimsen Ji. It was a very emotional and a special scene for all the spectators. Who knows when will we ever see these two stalwarts of Indian music together again. Girija Devi then went on to sing a thumri in Bhairavi. She then went on to sing a hori in Raag Khamaj. she also sang what others told me is called a jhula(I have no idea what it is) and concluded a very satisfying and emotional first session with another rendition of Bhairavi.

A very emotional greeting!
Now, in between the 1st and 2nd session of day 5, I ate, and to preserve my place, slept where I had put my satranji! God knows how I fell into a deep sleep, but when I woke up(partly due to my snoring!) it was 3.45! a cup of tea and biscuits later, I was all geared up for the evening performances.

The first Performance was by Ustad Raja Miyan or Ghulam Hussain Khan of the Agra Gharana. I found the style extremely different to what i have been hearing. He started off with Raag Poorva(Never heard of it) and sang the Nom-Tom tana for which Agra Gharana is famous, and They indeed did seem quite sweet. He then went on to perform Raag Barwa( Again  i havent heard it before).

The next slot, was for Harsh Narayan to shine and for Pt. Ramnarayan to yet, outshine his grandson. It was also probably the most uneqpected slot of this years Sawai. It started off with an extremely well played Raag Shree by Harsh Narayan, grandson of the legendary Sarangi player Pt. Ram Narayan.It was a very good rendition. I really like raag shree the last time I head it at sawai, and have now grown quite used to it, and this was one of the best I have heard! This was to be followed by the the two playing together.However, an unexpectedly sweet occurance was there for us to witness before that could happen.

 A very sweet moment for all to savour.
Pt. Ramnarayan did come on stage. But he was not alone! He had Pandit Bhimsen Joshi on stage with him as well! All amidst standing ovation for i dont know how long for both of them. Pt. Ram Narayan said a few lines about Bhimsen Ji. the mic was then passed on to bhimsen ji. from where I was sitting, it looked like a pair of old battle hardened lions, who are on the waning side when it comes to health. However, as soon as Bhimsen ji started to speak it sent a chill down my spine. He may look like an old lion, but a lion is a lion none the less. His roar was enough for me to have a tear in my eye, and it was enough to get the crowd on their feet, in a rapturous applause- the biggest that was heard at Sawai! Easily, it was THE moment of the entire schedule. I couldnt ask have asked for more. On that note, I really hope that Bhimsen ji recovers fast, and is able to sing at next years Sawai.

Now, returning to the Main program, Pt. Ramnarayan and Harsh Narayan together performed a beautiful version of Raag Yaman, one of my favourite Raags ever. It was extremely pleasing to the eye, and it was definitely I could listen to all day long! This was followed by Raagmala by panditji. He started off in Khamaj, and preserving its integrity mixed portions of what I could make out were Des, Bahar, Basant. It was an awesome performance by yet another stalwart.

The stage was then occupied by Pt. Satyasheel Deshpande- who we were told in his introduction has knowledge about all gharanas in India, making him the only person to do so! He started off by singing Raag Jaijaiwanti, which was very good. He then sang a bandish in Darbari Kanada, with help of a lot of joking and stories about Kumar Gandharwa. He also sang a Tarana in Darbari Kanada. On popular demand, he sang his famous Bandish " Saawan mein ban mein", set in Gaud Malhar. This was probably the best I have heard from him(The bandish- Ive heard it quite a lot of time at various places)/ He then wrapped up the proceedings by singing a nirguni bhajan, which was simply divine.

This marked a change in the stae arrangement, for now we were to have a dance by Mallika Sarabhai. She performed Bharatnatyam- 4 pieces in all, along with her son. I am too ignorant about this art, and dont know much. Although I must admit, that she did convey that it is very beautiful, and not agressive, as I had always imagined it to be.

The final performance of this years Sawai, like last years was the responsibility of Dr. Prabha Atre. I am always in awe of her, every time I see her. Her singing seems effortless, and extremely dignified, and thoroughly practiced. She started off by singing Raag Rageshree. The vocal support she received was excellent, and just went on to signify that she along with her students were rehearsing for this event very hard. It was just the ease with which she sang that really captivated me. After finishing Raag Rageshree, she performed a bandish in Jogkauns, which was again bliss to the ears. To cap off a very well organised performance, she sang Raag Bhairavi.

As tradition dictates, the show was concluded by playing a tape of Bharavi sung by Late Sawai Gandharwa. Overall, it was an awesome experience. Ill probably not forget a moment of this 4 day journey. I learnt a great many things- the importance of riyaaz, singing techniques, on voice, and overall, a lot on classical Music. I felt privieged to attend such a grand festival. Certainly, its done its fare share to add to my knowledge and love for classical music. Its one journey that I am willing to undertake time and again, just because it gives me an unmentionable peace of mind and utmost satisfaction.

You can refer to all the Raags performed today at the individual links provided below:

1)Raag Miyan Ki Todi- Pt. Raja Kale.
2)Raag Alhaiya Bilawal- Pt. Raja Kale
3)Raag Bhatiyar Bhairav- Pt. Raja Kale(No link)
4)Raag Nat Bhairav- Ustad Shahid Parvez.
5)Raag Jaunpuri- Pandita Girija Devi
6)Raag Khamaj- Pandita Girija Devi and Pt. Ram Narayan.
7)Raag Poorva- Ustad Ghulam Hussain Khan(No link)
8)Raag Barwa- Ustad Ghulam Hussain Khan
9)Raag Shree- Harsh Narayan
10)Raag Yaman- Pt. Ram Narayan and Harsh Narayan
11)Raag Jaijaiwanti- Pt. Satyasheel Deshpande
12)Raag Darbari Kanada- Pt. Satyasheel Deshpande
13)Raag Gaud Malhar- Pt. Satyasheel Deshpande
14)Raag Rageshri- Dr. Prabha Atre
15)Raag Jogkauns- Dr. Prabha Atre
16) Raag Bhairavi- Pandita Girija Devi and Dr, Prabha Atre.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the wonderful description of the festival on your blog, complete with photos that illustrate what happend - it must have been great to see these people, since many of them are quite old already. Have you taken the images with Joshi and Narayan/Devi? They are really nice. I wish the punedarshan recording of Narayan's Yaman on YouTube was a little better. Again, thank you!