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Archive for August 23rd, 2008

The Telegraph: MONSOON MAGIC

Posted by ElJay Arem (IMC OnAir) on August 23, 2008


by Nilaksha Gupta

Monsoon-Magic-Ustad-Amjad-Ali-Khan-082008-1The week-long Malhar Festival, organized by Indo Occidental Symbiosis and Juhu Cultural Association (Mumbai) at Kala Mandir (August 04-09) and Science City Auditorium (August 10), saw the introduction of a morning Malhar. Sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan (picture) played Sawan Malhar, created by him by combining Desi Todi, Kafi and Mian ki Malhar, as his second item in the morning session of the final day.

There was fetching lyricism in the melodic development of the alap and artistic integration of the constituent ragas. The prominent Desi Todi element created a morning atmosphere, making this the first Malhar with such a feature. He played a thundering ati drut Mian Malhar composition with powerful bol-ang taankari within the impressive medium tempo teental gatkari in Sawan Malhar. The drut teental and ati drut teental gatkaris in Mian ki Malhar at the end of the recital were even more impressive.

The opening item, alap and gatkari in Megh Malhar, was rather odd as the Ustad added the shuddh dhaivat to the raga in the phrase Pa Dha, Dha Pa Ma Re. This addition has no precedence and distorts the character of the raga. Moreover, the drut teental compositions attributed to Ustad Pyar Khan and Ustad Zaffar Khan, sung and played by the maestro, did not have either the note or the phrase in them and clearly showed the classic structure of the raga. The Ustad’s layakari, bolkari and taankari in the jhaptal, drut ektal and ati drut teental gatkari in Megh Malhar were as breathtaking as they were in the Eighties.

In the evening session, vocalist Kishori Amonkar distorted both the classic Mian ki Malhar vilambit khayal composition “Karim naam tero” and the raga itself by using movements that do not belong to it. These, to name a few, were: Sa ga Re Sa ni Dha, Ma Re Sa ni Dha, ni Sa Re ga, ni Re Ma. She also used the Bahar phrase Ma ni Dha Ni. The Gaud Malhar vilambit khayal “Maan na kariye” also suffered distortions and the raga itself was subject to slightly less severe ones. However, in all the khayals, she unleashed powerful taans that harked back to her heyday.

Amaan Ali Khan opened the festival with an impressive sarod recital in the raga Desh. He successfully expanded certain raga sections in the alap, getting the best out of the normal movements as well. After the alap he slipped into a section in which rapid strokes ending with meends led off to excellent ekhara taankari. This in turn led to fast medium jod and bol-ang jhala. There were very good bol-ang movements and phased taankari in the jhaptal gatkari. The drut and ati drut teental gatkaris were equally good. Subhankar Banerjee’s tabla accompaniment was powerful and appropriate. In the final piece, Amaan added the komal nishad to Kirwani and tried out Malhar-like movements within the note compass. This recital showed Amaan moving further ahead towards maturity. The final artist, Pandit Jasraj, started with a rather dull vilambit khayal in Mian ki Malhar. The sargam tukras and taankari in the drut khayal, however, made amends.

Prabhakar Karekar’s vilambit khayal in Gaud Malhar on the second evening was worse. Its movements obscured the raga. The drut khayal was somewhat better and so was the Sur Malhar khayal. The sitar player, Shahid Parvez, added the unwarranted dhaivat to Megh Malhar in his alap and gatkari. Further, he used the komal gandhar both in the Megh Malhar and in the Mian Malhar manner. All this blurred the image of the raga. His super-fast taankari, however, was impressive. Kumar Bose provided excellent tabla accompaniment.

Sarod player Debojyoti Bose’s alap in Mian ki Malhar, at the start of the third evening, was in the style of his guru, Amjad Ali Khan. The gatkari in Patdeep was well played with Yogesh Shamsi on the tabla. In the second half, Parveen Sultana’s khayals in Megh were of her usual standard with the usual applause-inducing features.

Ulhas Kashalkar started the classic vilambit khayal in Gaud Malhar (“Maan na kariye”) in a tempo that seemed too slow in the second half of the fourth evening. As a result, the initial part sounded a little out of character. However, from the 22nd minute, the tempo rose a bit and the expert taankari with its twists and turns lifted the recital. The drut khayal and tarana were good as well. The evening had started with Jayant Malhar by sitar player, Soumitra Lahiri. Proper integration of the constituent ragas was lacking in the alap and gatkari. Arvind Kumar Azad, on the tabla, was impressive.

Sitar player Kartik Kumar played four Malhars (Mian, Megh, Gaud and Surdasi) together at the start of the fifth evening. The exercise, called Chaturang Malhar, sounded fairly all right in the alap. Vocalist Rashid Khan thankfully avoided the Mian Malhar gandhar in his khayals in Megh Malhar but his use of the note was rather over-abundant and also included a trace of it in the madhyam-rishav glides in the manner of Bade Ghulam Ali. His taankari was impressive despite lacking variety. The Sur Malhar drut khayal was fairly well-sung though the antara was altered. The Ramdasi Malhar drut khayals were less impressive.

Sitar player, Budhaditya Mukherjee started the sixth evening with an alap in Desh, featuring excellent melodic development. There was spellbinding taankari in the jod. The gatkari in Ramdasi Malhar was quite good, so were the brief gatkari and jhala in Khamaj. Vocalist Ajoy Chakrabarty presented a Malhar demonstration of sorts starting with alap and dhamar in Mian ki Malhar, then going on to a tarana by Alauddin Khan. These were followed by an aochar and medium tempo ektal khayal in Dhuria Malhar, a drut ektal khayal by Bade Ghulam Ali in Surat Malhar, a Bengali composition in the same raga, and finally a self-composed thumri in Meerabai ki Malhar.

(Source: 08/23/2008 – | Opinion – Music)

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