Friday, December 10, 2010

The Sawai Experience-Day1

OK, I know that I have written posts with similar names in January, but I guess this is the best title that I could give, and every time I attend Sawai, the same will be used to convey the happening of the day. Yesterday, the 58th Sawai Gandharwa started off. It was my 3rd Sawai Gandharwa festival, and 2nd of the year. Over the last 2-3 years, as I have time and again stated, my interest in Indian music has grown exponentially. Yesterday, was an indication of the slow but steady progress that i have been making as a "shrota". This time around, since a lot of my friends who are interested in music are out of India, I intend to share at least 2 minutes of each Raag that was played or sung on this post. I wont post the entire recording as it takes too much space. Also, Cd's will be available after a few days. OK, enough about everything else, lets get straight to the happenings.

As the custom is, the festival started with shehnai. However,(since it was the first day, and me being me) got late. The artist performing was 15 year old Bhaskar Nath, who is appearing for his 10th standard. Although I missed about 93 percent of the playing, the remaining 7 percent- which was Mishra Piloo was exceptional, especially for a fifteen year old. I have no clue what I was doing at that age. Wasting my time probably. but Bhaskar Nath is on a different level than I am. He is someone we definitely will get to listen in the future.

As I was late for the first performance, whatever I heard of it, was from a faraway place in the balcony baithak. Not ideal. However, a friend of mine could find enough space 20 feet away from the stage so I could sit over there. Amazing! Listening to music from such close distance is an altogether different experience. Anyway, moving on, the second performance was by Sudhakar Chavan of Kirana Gharana. He is a disciple of  Shri. Shrikant Deshpande, and founder of Kalashree Academy. Shri Chavan started his performance in Raag Madhuvanti with bada khyal "madhuban me shyam ne murali bajayi" set to vilambit teentaal. Maybe I was still getting used to the new enhanced sound system, but thought that the voice was a bit shaky. Anyway, it smoothed out afterwards in the chhota khyal "Mein aaou tore mandirva" set in madhyalay teentaal. The khyal has an interesting story associated with it, but that will be for later. Shri Chavan finished off his performance with the Bhajan Avgha Rang ek zala.(Mauli was in great form!)




The third performer  of the day was Bhuvanesh Komakali, Grandson of the legendary Pt. Kumar Gandharwa, and son of Mukul Shivputra. As soon as he started singing, there was kind of singing that has made his family so famous. His voice sounded very similar to that of Pt. Kumar Gandharwa. He started off his performance by singing Raag Puriya Dhanashree, one of my most favourite raags. The badaa khyal was "bala gayi jyot" in vilambit ektal followed by "ajaraa din dooba" in madhyalay teentaal. This was totally awesome! It sounded extremely similar to the recording of Kumar Gandharva that is available. It was so good, that i dont remember what he sang after that. there was a bandish in maybe Shyam Kalyan. I dont remember though, I was still absorbed in the Puriya Dhanashree. When I finally got out of trance, he was singing another composition of Kumar Gandharva set in Shyam Kalyan- "sawan ki sanj". The icing on the cake was though no doubt, the bhajan that Bhuvanesh Komakali sang at the end. I have the original bhajan, "Sunta hai guru gyani" but hearing it live was totally different. More focus was given to the words of the bhajan, which created an effect that gave me goosebumps. I guess I was lucky to listen to him from such a close distance!


There was a break of about 10 minutes or so after this, for the release of a 14 set record of Shrinivas Joshi, dedicated to his father and guru, Pt. Bhimsen Joshi. The honourable guest for the release was Pt. Shivkumar Sharma.


The next performance, the first one to draw a jam packed crowd at Sawai, was by Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasiya. Hariji gave everyone fits of laughter before he started playing, by comparing the sound from the security check machine to that of a wake up call.( I could hardly hear it!) He sounds like a very comical person- providing wisecracks every now and then. Rejecting the use of chair to sit in and play, he sat down on the stage, despite his old age. He started off the performance with a raag that is still unknown to me. And deliberately he said, that after he finishes playing, he will ask the audience to recognize which one had been played. I have never heard such a thing. It had all shuddha notes, except for ma, which was teevra. and there was a strong use of komal dhaivat(more than shuddha) and also a use of komal re. The avaroha definitely has a touch of puriya dhanashree to it. I am still baffled by the raag, but Hariji later told that it is an ancient raag called as Raag Lataangi- more to research.(some one asked him whether it is raag haripriya- which he promptly dismissed by saying"Haripriya toh kab ki chal basi"). He then played a few minutes of Des. And no Hariprasad Chaurasiya concert is complete without atleast 2.5-3 minutes of Pahadi.


There was a lot of excitement after this, as Begum Parveen Sultana was to perform after many years i guess. Unfortunately, she had very very very limited time(about an hour), and rightly made comments indirectly directed to the lawmakers by saying "yeh kya time hai gana khatam karne ka? abhi to hamara sangeet shuru hota hai!" After the publich urged her to sing till late, she joked that the police will put her behind bars with her tanpura, to which the public responded by saying, "tithe yeto aikayla amhi!"Great artists such as her should be given time. I dont know why the 10 pm rule is there for such concerts! its broken for all other stupid reasons! anyway, I guess the limited time available had spurred her to provide one of the best musical feast an audience can ever ask for. The Jog Raag that she performed was something to behold. Every single note was crisp and sharp. and every single use of komal ga was piercing the soul and injecting spirit into it. Ive never quite heard Jog raag in this fashion. and probably if i want to hear jog again, then this is the only one I will hear. her voice-  its beyond description. For the 2 minutes that I had closed my eyes, it felt as though a sarangi was singing. Im running out of superlatives, but I will upload the 15 minute clip i manged to record before my phone gave in to the dying battery. She sang a bada khyal in vilambit ektaal  "parama sukha payo" followed by chhota khayal in madhyaly teentaal " sukha dukh dono aaj viraje" She then sang a short vilambit and a tarana in Raag Maluha Maand. This was follwed by the marathi song "Rasika tuzyach saathi". the towering performance was concluded with her famous bhairavi "Bhavani Dayani". its been over 10 hours since I heard that Jog, but I am unable to get it out of my system. It was something else. Its worth mentioning that the harmonium by Dr.Arvind Thatte was magnificent as ever!




I dont wish to talk or write anymore. I was delighted to attend yesterday, and hope that today will be as memorable as yesterday!

Raags Performed today:

Raag Multani- Bhaskar Nath
Raag Mishra Pilu- Bhaskar Nath
Raag Madhuvanti-Sudhakar Chavan
Raag Puriya Dhanashree- Bhuvanesh Komakali
Raag Shyam Kalyan- Bhuvanesh Komakali
Raag Lataangi- Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasiya
Raag Des- Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasiya
Raag Pahadi- Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasiya
Raag Jog- Begum Parveen Sultana
Raag Maluha Maand- Begum Parveen Sultana
Raag Bhairavi- Begum Parveen Sultana

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