Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Sawai Experience - Day 3

With all the high level of Music that was presented on Day 2 of Sawai, I could not help but control myself from going there today. I had work to do, office work, was working from home, I abandoned the plan to work at 2.30, and promptly set out for Ramanbaag.Let me tell you- as the day unfloded, I have absolutely no regrets that I did not care to complete my work. My work is secondary. My liking for music is always my first priority. It was a day of such high caliber exhibition, that it is almost impossible to be put in words. Im making a bold effort of describing Day 3 of Sawai 2011, one of the days which will stay in mind for a long time, and a day I will cherish forever.

The days concert started off by vocals of Kumar Mardur of Kirana gharana. 4 Pm start gives limited options to start a concert with- and Kumar selected Raag Multani. This is one of my favourite raags, and the effect it produces is simply amazing. I was very eager to listen to Kumar Mardur. Staying true to the Kirana traditions, he started his singing with the bada khyaal in Vilambit Ektaal : gokul gaon ka chhoraa. Some of the taans taken were captivating, and left me spellbound. The vilambit was followed by the madhyalay teentaal composition: kangan muraliya mori - a composition made legendary by Pt. Bhimsen Joshi.This was followed by a Drut ektaal bandish - nainan me aan baan. The Multani was presented like a 5 start platter, full of substance and decoration. It was very very very good to listen to such high class singing from a young and talented artist. The Multani was followed by a Kabir bhajan Mann phoola phoola. On a once more request, Kumar Mardur went on to sing a Kanadi bhajan govind nina ananda.

The second performance of the day was a sitar solo by Kartik Sheshadri. Kartikji is a disciple of Pt.Ravishankar, and the style of his play shows the Ravishankar style to the fullest. Kartikji started his performance by selecting a very very rare raag- Raag Haunsakinkini. The alaapi was good, although, after listining to and worshiping the likes of Ustad Shahid Parvez and Vilayat Khan, the Ravishankar style sound kind of disjointed. Nevertheless, the effect of a totally new raag took over on me. My initial analysis was that the raag sounded like a combination of Bhimpalas and Jog. The se of komal ga in the avaroha brought out a surreal feel. Also, the incorporation of a third playing string added extra lower notes to the sitar, creating in very rich tonal range. Kartikji then went on to play another rare raag: Shimhendramadhyam-a raag borrowed from Carnatic Sangeet Paddhati, and played two compositions of his own. The raag structure sounded very interesting and is definitely worth taking a look on it. More food for thought. Some of the zalaa work here was inspirational.

The third performance was probably the most awaited performance of Sawai- Shankar Mahadevan. The crowd had swollen up like crazy by this time, all for  Shankar Mahadevan. He was very very well received to a round of applause. Shankar ji was to perform Carnatic music, and he did it with such finesse, that you got see a totally new side of him. He is a genius. There is no other word for him. Im not going to write much. I wont stop otherwise. He started his performance with a composition in raag Natakurunji - which sounded somewhat like Bageshree. I love Shankar Mahadevans voice - and he was in form right from the start. He has a knack of keeping the audience in a trance, and he did it from the word go. He then sang a brief alaap in Raag Haunsadhwani, which was very very well received. The solo played by Padma Shankar on violin was out of this world. Simply mindblowing, and she rightly received applause loads of times.He then continued his performance with Raag Bakulbharinam-which he said was a combination of Charukeshi in the first half and Todi in the latter half. The raag was fabulous. He started off with an alaap, which was followed by an alaap on the violin by Padma Shankar, which was stunning. He the nsang another composition in the same raag. There was a jugalbandi between the mrudungam and ghatam player which again created a unique effect. Shankar ji then concluded his performance with a garland of Abhangas sung in memory of Khale kaka and Bhimsen Joshi. this abhanga-mala was no doubt was the highlight of this years Sawai. He started of only with vocals, ektaari and chiplya, and sang the first few lines of Indrayani kaathi, Namacha gajar Bhima teera, saavale sundar roop manohar, sundar te dhyaan, jethe jato tethe tu maza sangaati, bhagyada lakshmi baramma, hyacha sathi kela hota attahas, maze maher pandhari. The rest of the sathidaars, harmonium, violin gradually joined in, and by the time he was singing Maze Maher Pandhari, the whole stage was vibrating with energy radiating from the instruments of everyone. This was probably the best live thing Ive ever heard. It is a must watch, and someone kind enough has already posted it on youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_efbq5lWjXI&feature=share) Hats off to the person who uploaded it. Shankar Mahadevan was rightly given a standing ovation on his debut Sawai Performance. The last 14 minutes brought a tear to my eye. In one of the abhangas, the video person zoomed in on the portrait of Bhimsen looking at the heavens in his transfixed gaze of leenata, and an overwhelming feeling took over. I could not help but shed a tear in his memory. It was a performance that I can never ever forget.

To complete a day of such high quality music, was the person who personifies quality music himself - Pt. Jasraj. While he was settling down, we were having a discussion on what he was going to sing. I heard him tune 1 nishaad on the swarmandal and said, Jaijaiwanti, and to my delight, and everyones surprize, he did declare he would be singing Jaijaiwanti. Wow- I have made tremendous progress on getting my ears tuned I guess! Feels good. Jasraj ji started with a lakshangeet of Jaijaiwant-which I think was Des Ang Jaijaiwanti. Jai jai siddhi was sung in vilambit ektaal and was followed by daras det yunhi in madhyalay teentaal. This featured those three saptak meends, that only Pt Jasraj can sing. It was amazing. Jaijaiwanti is such a sweet raag, brings about a very pleasing effect. He continued his performance with another raag, which I am not sure about. It sounded like a mixture of Sarang, Des and Malhar. It was fabulous though. By the time he finished it was well past 10. But the Pune audience never lets Jasraj ji go early, and urged him to sing one more time! He sang a bhajan Govind Damodar set in Nat Bhairav. This was my personal favourite from his performance. By the time he finished, it was already past 10.30 - So much for the court order! It was a wonderful day, and one I can never forget.

There were somethings that made me a little irritated. We go to Sawai to listen to high quality singing, and not jibberjabber of other people - which people were doing all the time - a thought that Nikhil Sugwekar will definitely share. It shows great disrespect to the artists when you are chatting away when an artist such as Pt Jasraj is singing. Never mind, this will be for some other post. I do not want to spoil the thoughts of an inspirational, and for me highly educational day with petty things. I conclude my days report requesting the Supreme court of India to grant Aarya Prasarak Mandal to keep Sawai Gandharwa as an overnight festival, it would be even more pleasing for rasiks like myself. On that note I take your leave. Looking forward for the 4th Day. Have Amjad Ali Khan and Malini Rajurkar, and frankly , cant wait for it! Photos to be uploaded soon!

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