Monday, December 13, 2010

The Sawai Experience-Day 2

[I apologize for posting this late but I had some other matters to attend to. Anyway, since I will only be reporting what happened on Friday, I guess a few days delay is not that bad]. So, after a refreshing first day at Sawai, where I had illegally sat in the area reserved for those who were invited, I could hardly contain myself to go and sit there again. yesterday, Anish and his mom had gone early and got the places, today it was my turn. I reached by about 3:30. The show was to start at 4, so it was not that crowded. I got the same place I had yesterday. Today, though, I had my satranji with me, so I could easily reserve our places. When I reached, I met Sahil, who I had come to know at the festival itself. Slowly, the ground started filling up, and I sincerely thanked god that I could get such an awesome place to sit.

Anyway, getting to the point of focus, the first performance of the day was Smt.Uma Garg. She was accompanied by Bharat Kamat on the Tabla and Suyog Kundalkar on the harmonium. Umaji started her gayan with Raag Multani (unfortunately, again). Multani is a nice raag, but you listen too much of it, and it puts you to sleep. Thats what happened over the last 3-4 years. If the program starts at 4, the artist is short of options, and invariably selects Multani. Anyway, Umaji sang a bada khya " Tu Sahib jamaal" in vilambit Ektal. Owing to the Multani Saturation i dozed off. I woke up to a few crisp taans taken later. It was followed by a chhota khyal in Madhyalay Teentaal "Balama more tum sang laagi preet". Although the singing was excellent, as a performance, it was quite dull. There was hardly any interaction or response within the three people on the stage. It was sort of a robotic performance, although it did become more interactive afterwards.
Umaji capped off her performance with a thumri in Mishra Khamaj "Manat nahi shyam" which was a lot better than the previous raag.


I have had enough of Multani by then, and was hoping that any ragas from yesterday would not be repeated again. However, Savani Shende-Sathye who was to perform next, chose Puriya Dhanashree, which was already performed yesterday by Bhuvanesh Komakali. But when Savani started her singing, her voice- which is extremely sweet, set an altogether different mood than yesterday. I had heard a lot of Bela Shende before, but Savani I had not heard that much. But now, I have become a fan of hers. Her voice is just amazing! Savani sang an extremely beautiful bandish she had composed in vilambit ektal "Kesar rang shaam chhayee, lagi saanjh aaj naveli". It was a beautiful, beautiful presentation. I especially liked the raag vistar. It never got dull for one moment! and there was always a force with which the shadja was applied, which really was keeping everything fresh. Savani then went on to sing a chhota khyal, composed by Tansen, set in drut teental- "tore jaya jaya karatar". She then finished Puriya Dhanashree with a tarana set in ada-chautal. It was a power packed tarana, and one of the bests Ive heard recently. Savani then went on to sing a Bandish in Raag Hemant composed by her grandmother, set in Ektal- "Chalo sakhi aao aao". The raag sounded similar to Bhinna Shadja with a pancham added to it. And again, as expected, it was sung very well. Savani then finished her performance with the bhajan "Bolava Vitthal, Pahava Vitthal". Overall, it was an outstanding performance by Savani, and she won over the Punekars at her first Sawai Gandharva itself!(not that she already has, but today, even the hard nosed ones have become her fans) Amazing. Salute to her.


As the evening set in, the chill came with it. But then, such weather is awesome for listening to music. And the next performance was put there just to provide the warmth that is needed in such situations- for it had none other than Pandit Vishwamohan Bhatt (who I fondly call as world charmer) and U.Shrinivas. It was evident from the notes that panditji was setting on his taraf what he was going to play. It filled me with enthusiasm, as its one of my favourite ever raag, and i have an amazing record of the same by panditji. I was hoping that since it was a jugalbandi, it would be even better. And they started, with what panditji described as the simplest and the hardest raag- Raag Yaman. it was exactly like as it was in the record. The sound of the Mohan veena is amazing! I mean, indeed a lot of research has gone in developing i. However, i was a little dissapointed with the mandolin- i thought it was loud. Anyway, it was an interesting jugalbandi. Ive not heard a live one for a long time. Vijay Ghate was amazing on the Tabla. However, after a while it got a bit besur, especially in taar saptak. And the end was a bit noisy when both the artists were playing together. However, when both were playing individually, you did not want it to end. After the Yaman, the duo performed the bhajan "vaishnav jan ko", which was again well presented. It was an interesting encounter with a live performance of the two instruments. While most of the time it was sublime, a few things stuck out at odd angles. In short, It was a mixed bag for me.



Following the jugalbandi, was the most awaited performance of the day. Pandit Jasraj. Pandit ji arrived to a roaring ovation from the crowd, with a lot of his disciples. After settling down, and getting rid of the issues with mic and monitor, Panditji started singing Darbari Kanada. He started off with his usual "Mangalam bhagawan vishnu in Darbari" This was followed by a bada khyal "jai jai shree durge". In the raag development Panditji made full use of the range of his voice. his kharja to tar shadja transition is just awesome! I still fail to understand that a person of his age is still able to sustain such high class singing for such a long time. In between Mukund Petkar took an amazing jagaa on the harmonium, which panditji described as "appa ale tujhya hatamadhe!" However Although panditji was singing brilliantly, I was a bit disappointed with the supporting vocals. It could have been much much better. The bada khyal was follwed by a chhota khyal "Ajab teri Duniya Malik" Panditjis voice had warmed up nicely by now, and everything was a treat to the ears! There was an interesting jugalbandi between the Tabla and Mrindingam (which tired out the poor girl accompanying panditji as she had to sing the same line for almost 5 minutes!). Panditji was on fire. There was a special moment for me too. There was this very pretty girl who was sitting next to me( she is a friend of a friend of friend of mine- whatever, she was pretty), she took one jagaa exactly like panditji, and it was not a normal one, I was amazed. I need to find who she was, and congratulate her! But Panditjis performance was simply amazing. He continued with a bandish in Raag Bahar, again very well sung, and capped off his performance with the bhajan " Om namo bhagawate vasudevay"



Overall, today was just too good for me. Its unfortunate that I wont be able to attend tomorrow. Im missing Malini Rajurkar, and only have myself to blame for that. Let it be, Pandit Jasraj and Savani Shende have made my day worthwhile today, and I hope to keep on enjoying Sawai as ever, day after.


(Recordings will follow later)

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