This years Sawai Gandharwa, just like last years, is extremely special to me. I dont know when next, Ill be able to watch a programme of such magnutude, live. Yes, there are hundreds of recordings of live concerts available, but the audio-visual impact of attending a live concert is so great, that it leaves a permanent imprint on your brain. Initially, I had thought that I wont be able to attend this years Sawai. However, God finds a way to overcome everything, and rightly guides you to what you want. Like he did with me. I dont know what he did, but hes led me to Sawai. As usual, I reached Ramanbaug, the venue of the concert at 3:00 PM when the concert was to start at 3:30. Let me tell you, it was packed! I somehow managed to squeeze in and get 3 places- one for myself and 2 more for my friends Anish and Kaustubh, in the Bharatiya Baithak in between the two chair flanks. (This year is going to be tough to find good places-people have been reserving the good ones by sleeping there all night!)
After we had settled in, and had a good look around for anything or anyone interesting, at sharp 3:30, the days proceedings started, with Shehnai, by Pt. Tukaram Daithankar. He was accompanied by Ashok and Ganesh Daithankar on the swarpeti, Nitin Daithankar on shehnai, and Mangesh Karmarkar on Tabla. Tukaramji started this years concert by playing Raag Madhuvanti. He started with a khyal in vilambit ektaal, which I felt was shortrer that what he usually plays. This was followed by a composition in madhyalay teentaal. We got to see some amazing techniques from him, with light, crisp and delicate taans. Although it was a short performance of about half an hour - 45 mins, it left a stamp of its own, and set up the mood for what was to follow. Tukaramji then concluded his performance by playing the famous natyageet - "vad jau kunala sharan"
After the shehnai performance, I gave in to my rumbiling tummy, and quickly grabbed two vada paavs an came back. The next performance was by Sanjay Garud. Sanjay ji was accompanied by Prashant Pandav on the Tabla and Pramod Marathe on the harmonium. Sanjayji started his performance by singing Raag Patadeep, in memory of his late guru, Pt. Shrikant Deshpande. The bada khyal "Dhan dhan bhaag" was set in vilambit ektaal. The taar shadja application was very nicely executed, and it set a smile on mine and Anishes faces everytime the Sam came. The bada khyaal was followed by the chhota khyaal "Piya nahi aaye", which was again very well executed. It looked like a very very well rehearsed performance, and hats off to Sanjay ji for making us listen to a raag, which we do not usually get to hear. He followed Patadeep with a composition "Vitthal Vitthal" set to what seemed to be a mix of Darbari, Adana and Jaunpuri. It was again very nicely sung. It was a very good performance by Sanjayji. Ive only heard of him before, but after listening to him, next time when he is singing, Ill make attendance for myself compulsory.
Sanjay jis performance was followed by, for me, and many more, the most awaited performance of the day- that by Smt. Ashwini Bhide Deshpande. Im a big big fan of hers. Ive got some compositions by her titled 80 compositions, and the poetry in them is amazing. To top off everything, she is a PhD in biochemistry. Its but natural for people interested in sciences to put her as a role model. Anyway, enough diversion, getting back to the point, it was for most of us the most awaited performance. Ashiwini ji was accompanied by Tanmay Deochake on harmonium and Bharat Kamat on tabla. She started her performance by singing Raag Marwa. Its a long time after Ive heard Marwa live in concert. She started off with a bada khyal "Piya moraa ananta" set in vilambit teentaal. Ashwinijis voice is amazing. The taans were so awesome, that there are no words for it. She is a doctor, although in microbiology, but she was surgically slicing open our hearts with that komal rishabh of marwa, with all the finesse of a surgeon. Some of the taans, and support by Saili Oak on vocals, and Tanmay on harmonium were "aflatoon". At one point, Tanmay played a solo piece which is still lingering in my mind. Ashwiniji the nsang a chhota khyal "Mayari Saanj bbhayi" set in drut ektal. The poetry is awesome, and the singing confluences the words and the moods. It was an exceptional rendition. Ashwiniji then continued to sing for about 10 minutes of Raag Bihagda. Ive never heard this raag before, and thought it had shades of Bihag in aroha, and a touch of Nand in avaroha. She sang "Kaha se tum mad pi ke aayo sawar" in madhyalay roopak, followed by Raina dina kaise kate in drut. She concluded her performance with an abhang Ata Koth dhaave mana, tujhe charan dekhaliya. Overall, it was a superb performance, and totally lived upto the expectations of the audience.
There was quite a long gap after Ashwini Bhide Deshpandes performance. So I managed to slip out, and have some snacks, meet madB and Vetaal, and come back and sit in my place. When I was back, the next artist, Satish Vyas, was already on stage and was tuning his Santoor. A few strums later, it was evident that he was going to play Rageshree. The G-m-R-'n-S phrase is a give away. Rageshree is a beautiful raag, and I have fallen in love with it after I had heard Shahid Parvezs recording from a concert. There is no other sweeter raag than Rageshree. Satishji, due to time constrains did not follow the usual method of aalaap-jod-jhala, but instead played alaapi-vilambit bandish and drut bandish, and incorporated jod and jhalaa in it. Santoor is a delicate instrument, and delicate ragas like rageshree are made more bahardaar on it. The alaapi was fabulous. At times, the not was struck with such delicacy, that one could barely hear it, if not focused. The crowd was also in the mood, and was so silent, that when such delicate notes were being played, the only things that could be heard were the note, and the noise made by the fans. It was a wonderful performance, and the accompanyment by Mukundraj Dev was exceptional. Another performance to remember this year.
After Satisjis performance, the last performance of the day was delivered, and delivered in some style by Pt. Ajay Pohankar. I am a fan of his singing, and his voice is like butter. It is just very very smooth. He started off by singing a bada khyal in Raag Kausi Kanada, "Rajan ke sirtaj". Panditji was in great form from the start. Amazing voice.It was very very captivating. The bada khyal was followed by a chhota khyal "kahe karat mose barijori" another awesome rendition. By the time he finished, there were 10 minutes left for 10, so he sang a dadra in Pahadi for 5 minutes, and followed it up by the concluding Bhairavi "Bajuband khul khul ja". The harmonium accompanyment by Sudhir Nayak was masterful, and extremely pleasing. Panditjis performance was a cherry on what was no doubt a memorable evening.
I apologise for not clicking any photos yesterday, but for some reason, by camera got discharged, and Im still baffled as to why that happened. Anyway, Ill take pictures today. Mahesh Kale, and M.Balamuralikrishnan are two artists Im really looking forward to hear. Cant wait for 2 PM. I have to go early today to get good place to sit. People have been reserving a place for themselves since yesterday night! (Awra!) Anyway, I conclude my days report. Hope you had a pleasant read. Will update today when I return.