The recent music festival organized by Sangeet Ashram in G.D. Birla Sabhagar seemed to be aimed at proving that the present generation of practitioners bears the tradition of Indian classical music well. This three-day festival was geared to showcase how, in spite of standing in the light of the glory of established musicians, the GenNext of Indian classical music is preparing to snatch the spotlight. It had a brilliant start with the percussion ensemble presented by the students of Lilliput Drummers. Four kids — Subhadrakalyan Rana, Snehesh Guha Thakurta, Rajarshi Halder and Riyaaz Roy — accompanied by Emmanuel Simon on Nagma-Xylophone, demonstrated their knowledge and expertise of tabla, rhythm and beats. Their coordination on stage was praiseworthy. The technique of an almost non-stop rotation was enjoyable.
This captivating performance was followed by a vocal recital by Arshad Ali Khan, a young torchbearer of the prolific Kirana Gharana. His name created an expectation but, unfortunately, he could not create the mood of the charming monsoon raga, Miyan ki Mallar. From the very beginning, the sluggishness of his voice and the rendition in the lower octave obstructed the flourishing of the raga. He tried to pick up energy later, but his way of taan and vistaar presentation seemed weak in both the vilambit and drut kheyals. Arshad also sang Raga Hambir and Gaud Mallar briefly. A kind of artificiality in his singing style spoilt his attempt.
Young talent Deborshee Bhattacharya’s vilambit and drut kheyals in Multani had some sparks. His voice clarity and range caught the attention of the audience. But his additional efforts to make his performance interesting made the audience lose interest. In Multani, he needed to be calmer and more attentive to capture the mood of the raga. However, Deborshee’s voice got a full bloom in Desh. The freedom in his taan and vistaar presentation made this performance sweet.
Sandeep Chatterjee’s attempt at Shudh Basant in santoor was praiseworthy as the raga is rarely played and a bit difficult. Unlike the Basant derived from Poorvi That, in Shudh Basant, shudh dha is used instead of komal dha and shudh madhyam is also strongly used. Sandeep’s alaap was beautiful — some touches in the rendition seemed charming. But suddenly it lost the initial sweetness, especially when he shifted to gat playing. Lack of energy and unnecessary length made his performance monotonous.
But all the tiredness was removed by the vocalist Shashank Maktedar (picture). A sincere disciple of Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar and a follower of Gwalior Gharana, Shanshank expressed his musical lineage in his singing style. His first choice was Miyan ki Mallar and it made a mark on the heart of the audience from the very beginning. He rendered the keynotes with great care and his vistaars in three octaves were arresting. Shashank’s taan presentation was full of variety and the voice modulation was impressive. He also sang Basant. It was brief and bold. The movements of the keynotes, especially in the middle and upper octaves, brought out the soul of the raga.
On the final day, young sitarist Kalyanjit Das, son of the famous sitar player, Kushal Das, opened the door of possibilities with Raga Megh. His alaap and jor created an expectation amongst listeners. But his lengthy and repetitive rendition while presenting gat was boring. He could have tried to play the raga in a short span with variation instead of trying to make it ornamental. The vocal recital of Sabina Mumtaz Islam made for a mixed experience. The beginning and some parts of her vilambit in Gaud Mallar were good. Sabina has a natural tendency of going for intricate voice modulations. But at some critical phases her voice needed greater clarity. She was not able to create the ambience for Raga Sohini, which needed more energy and spontaneity.
Vocalist Arnab Chatterjee’s presentation of Raga Sur Mallar could not bring out the natural beauty of the raga because of the artist’s tedious rendition. Sanjay Adhikary, Indranil Bhaduri, Rupak Bhattacharya, Soumen Nandi, Prasanta Dey Roy, Gourab Chatterjee, Rupashree Bhattacharya and Hiranmoy Mitra perfectly accompanied their artists. This festival created an important platform for upcoming artists to express their talents seriously.
It was an evening of music and literature at Bharatiya Bhasha Parishad that captured the soul of the bandishes of Indian classical music. Meena Banerjee had written a beautiful script in which she explained how the feelings of the nava rasas, like devotion, love, separation, joy and the like came out through the words of the famous bandishes. Indrani Mukherjee’s generous and melodious voice brought out the true essence of ragas like Desh, Kedar, Malkauns, and Puriya Dhanashree. Apurba Mukherjee’s tabla accompaniment was also memorable.