Attended the 'Sawai Gandharva Music Festival' yesterday. 'Bhartiya Baithak'
(you sit on hard ground in various contorted postures and keep craning your neck in various directions determined by the movements of guys in front of you, to retain a glimpse of the action on stage) was a pain at the obvious spots when persisted with for a long time. But then, how else can one get over 6 hours of live concert music for 100 Indian rupees?!
Violinist Kala Ramnath performed solo, more than a decade after I saw her accompany Pandit Jasraj at Kalakshetra in Chennai. I can't comment much on her virtuosity although her music sounded very pleasant; and yes, her smile still is what it then was!
Jasraj, who performed last, provided a few surprises.
- 1. He joked with the audience in Marathi sophisticated enough to elude my own grasp of the language - felt bad about not being much more than a rank beginner at it (and this is my sixth winter in Pune).
Today I came to know that his wife is Marathi so the surprise is a bit reduced. Still, my task remains cut out.
- 2. He sang with as much power and energy as he had done at Kalakshetra. Some of his 'taans' and other flourishes showed amazing energy and control - the technicalities therein are beyond me to comment upon. Age seems to have simply passed him by, touch wood!
- 3. He presented a 'khayal' in Darbari (I guess) which went: "Hazrat Khwaja...". That was something new; I never knew there were khayal compositions in honor of Sufi Muslim mystics!
Note: I used to know a certain eminent and 'much decorated' Indian Physicist with very 'westernized' values who once declared (he also held strong political(ly correct) views and was very articulate and influential - often devastatingly so - in certain rarefied circles): "This Jasraj fellow, I can't stand him. He is probably the only insider who says 'Hindustani' music is basically 'Hindu' and should be 'purified' of all Islamic influences. Pathetic, in a realm such as Music, one has characters like that!" I had never heard anything at variance with (or for that matter supporting) this judgement. So, surprise 3 was actually a 'double surprise'. Of course, I have no intention arguing with the Physicist.
And yes, on the way back home around midnight, while crossing the Yerawada bridge, I saw a near perfect half-moon hanging just above the western horizon, leaving a long trail of pure silver over (of all things!) the incredibly putrid waters of the Mula-Mutha. That was surprise number 4 for the evening!
Update for 9th December: Gundecha Brothers performed in 'Dhrupad' style. They were remarkably matter-of-fact - they came, saluted the audience and the stage, tuned their 'Tampuras' very meticulously, sang a longish spell of Raga Marwa with just 'noon's, 'te's, 'nee's, 're's (and did it marvelously), sang a short lyric in the same Raga, said: "We will now conclude with Charukesi", presented a short composition in that Raga (again doing a wonderful job), saluted the audience, declined fervent cries of "one more please!" with smiles and more salutations and left.
The brothers made quite a pair in resplendent yellow kurtas. And yes, they seem to have aged noticeably from the young faces that had featured on the blurb of their 'Young Masters' series cassette.