Now I have to give some background here..I come from a family which knows how to appreciate music. My dad was very much a part of "Beatlemania" in his day and remembers the lyrics to most of their songs even today. My mother predictably likes Mohammad Rafi and Jagjit Singh and old Hindi film music. And both of them like Hindustani and Carnatic classical music and are regulars at various concerts in Mumbai. And given all of this, I'm the kind of person to who can have Bob Dylan, Metallica, Pt.Bhimsen Joshi and Bunty and Babli on the same play list(sorry but I cant stand the likes of Britney Spears!!) and enjoy them all.
But to be honest I have heard all these at home...and have witnessed only rock concerts, live!(I think I once saw a Jagjit Singh program as well)..
OKAY..NOTE....I said I enjoy all this music...but my knowledge concerning them is close to zilch..So if any facts in the following post are erroneous then I apologize profusely and welcome any corrections..
My parents happened to be going for a concert by Padma Vibhushan Gaanasaraswati Smt.Kishori Amonkar, on 24th June,Sunday at 9.00 am, at Nehru Center(Worli).The show was principally a Charity Concert, organized by the 'Bade Gulam Ali Yadgaar Sabha'.
I have heard a few of her songs before..She is basically a Hindustani classical performer who sings khyal in the Jaipur gharana style. She is currently 76 years of age and is most famous for her brilliant rendition of "baabul moraa".
We awoke in the morning to lashing rain, with grim forecasts on the news for the day ahead. After debating for a while, we decided to go ahead and reach the concert. The roads were not a good sight! It had only been pouring a few hours, but the roads were flooded with water that submerged the car tyres. Slowly, cautiously, weaving our way through fallen trees and flooded roads, with rain only giving us intermittent respite.
When we reached Nehru Center her popularity was reiterated, because the place was teeming with expectant music lovers. We had to reach the conclusion that 'Whether rain or shine Kishori Tai's(an affectionate term for older sister) program cannot be compromised'. Her music seemed to transcend all barriers of age, race, sex and time. Audiences old and young, from different classes of society-right from the 'air kissing' high society ladies to the simple middle class music enthusiasts, waited patiently as the show was delayed by almost an hour.
The rising curtain had a dramatic stillness about it.The compare introduced her and opened the show saying
"Aaj meri prarthna kuch aisi thi,
Aae baarish thodi der ke liye tham ja,
Ki Kishoriji yahan aa sake;
Aek baar woh yahan, aae aise barasna,
Ki woh hame chod ke jaa na saake!"
Kishori tai tuned up her 'swaramandali' and the 'tanpuras'.She seemed to have some trouble with her throat in the first 15 mins, but once her voice opened up, it was like a downpour of melody. Her voice filled up the auditorium like the sound of bells in a temple.The first half was dedicated to a composition called 'Mahadeo' in what i think was the Raag Bhairavi. She gradually built up the registers with amazing variations and aalap sung relentlessly for an hour and then completed the composition in the next half an hour. Ashwini Bedekar, one of the accompanists at the tanpura, supported her in this composition. I apologize as I didn't catch the name of her accompanying artists at the tabla and the harmonium.
Following a ten minute break.The organizers called upon Nana Patekar, who was a part of the audience to felicitate all the artistes with bouquets. He praised her saying "Sur hamare kaan mein atak gaye lekin tere gale mein bas gaye isiliye tu yahan aur hum wahan baithe hai!" She then spoke a few words in Marathi, through which she gave a heartfelt message, the gist of which she summarized herself in english, her last statement being "Children come back to the sublimity of classical music!".
The second composition was a beautiful rendering of "Devebhyo", followed by "Pavan Batariya" which I'm quite sure was in Raag Alaiya Bilaval. Here her other disciple at the tanpura was supporting her, a young girl with a lovely voice. On further inquiry she turned out to be Tejashree Amonkar, Kisohiriji's Grand daughter, genetically blessed with a beautiful voice and polished under the tutelage of her illustrious grandmother. She obviously doesn't hold candle to Kishori Tai yet, but I personally feel that classical music lovers should look out for her in the coming years.
Finally she sang "Ghat Ghat Mein Panchee Bolta" a doha by Sant Kabeer. This was the part of the performance that i most enjoyed. A noteworthy feature of her rendition was that she gave full play to both antaraa's, ending with a very evocative recital of all the lines strung together. A great finale to a memorable morning!
I hummed all the way back home in considerably reduced rainfall and rather clear roads. I cant remember when i last enjoyed a morning more!