Ghate ka sauda
Am thoroughly upset with people at concerts these days who greet every successful nuance and turn with thunderous applause. I wish they wouldn’t. Yes, it’s appreciation but wouldn’t a well-placed ‘wah’ or a murmured ‘kya baat hai’ do? No, they break into claps, and people next to them wake up and then it goes around the gathering in ripples. It breaks the flow for the artiste, and if some people have been transported by the music, they’re brought to very rudely.
This happened rather often with the Ulhas Bapat performance last night. But then he had more than the audience to contend with: he had as accompanist on tabla, Vijay Ghate. Bapat started off with in Raga Charukeshi, a very lovely alaap that augured well. Once Vijay Ghate joined him however, Charukeshi was pushed into the background, a mere foil for his prowess. Completely oblivious to Bapat’s plans for the recital, his intention to examine phrase after phrase, and weave them into a many-hued tapestry, Ghate jumped in and thundered away at his drums with short gimmicky flourishes. The audience obligingly clapped every time, and the santoor man’s smile became increasingly fixed.
Why cannot accompanists stay within their roles? Can they not see the bigger picture? If you’re asked to play a humble cog, you play that goddamn cog. Even if you think you can be the entire wheel, or the chariot. Because that’s what is needed of you this minute, your cogness. Anything less, or anything more is useless.
The Jasrangi jugalbandi
This jugalbandi is an experiment of Pt Jasraj’s, and as the maestro outlined his vision for what would unfold, Arjun whispered to me, 'This is either going to go very well or flop miserably.' It went well, oh, it went well.
The Jasrangi jugalbandi has two singers, one male and female. Based on the system of moorchanas, the two singers sing different ragas in different scales at once. The pancham of the male voice becomes the shadj for the female voice. I have a very tenuous grasp on the technicalities, but it sounded heavenly.
Clearly the ragas must be chosen with care: the first piece had Abhyankar singing Purya Dhanashri and Ashwini Bhide Deshpande coming back with Haveli Basant. Two distinct ragas in conjunction. Sometimes, while they bantered in swaras, it seemed as if this was a cultured argument, each person with their clearly delineated point of view, understanding the other, but preferring nevertheless to hold their own perspective. It celebrated the divide of the sexes as well as possibilities of union.
Ras bar’sat tore ghar
The Jasrangi exercise has been done before but singers on those occasions had been disciples of Pt Jasraj, all from the Mewati gharana. This, we were told, was the first time two different gharanas attempted to come together thus.
The second piece had Abhyankar on Kalavati and Ashwini on Abhogi. They chose to sing a composition popular with Bhide Deshpande’s gharana, Jaipur Atrauli, and succeeded beyond hope. Superb, simply superb.
Ashwini Bhide was a little nervy – the screeching mike didn’t help, and nor perhaps the fact that she was on Mewati turf, so to speak – but she carried it off fabulously. As for Abhyankar, he approached god-like dimensions yesterday, channelling the essence of Kalavati from the very first note.
Gundecha brothers today, followed by Carnatic violinists Ganesh-Kumaresh.