Monday, 30th October 2017

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By Nilaksha Gupta
  • Published 21.07.07

Sangeet Ashram presented Manilal Nag, possibly the seniormost performing sitar player of Calcutta, in an evening recital at G.D. Birla Sabhagar on July 13. He was supported on the sitar by his well-known daughter, Mita Nag, and accompanied on the tabla by Samar Saha.

The main item was alap, jod, jhala and gatkari in raga Jaijawanti. Manilal Nag opened up the raga by playing two of its three main phrases right at the beginning. His daughter, Mita, however, reining in the tempo a bit in her first foray, brought in a little slower and more detailed melodic development. Nag seemed to respond and the mode, more or less set by the daughter, tended to prevail throughout the 18-minute alap. His pitch wavered a bit at times in the tar saptak.

Mita Nag, playing accurately, more than compensated for this first sign of ageing shown by her father in the recital. Still, since the volume of her microphone was kept low for unknown reasons throughout the evening, she did not sound as impressive as she does in her solo recitals.

The microphone factor became more apparent during the rhythmic taan-toda played by the duo in the jod. Manilal Nag played with vigour throughout, with occasional, slightly rough edges being the only reminders that he was well into his late sixties. The full impact of Mita Nag’s taan-toda, on the other hand, did not reach the listener because of the low volume of her microphone, but it was clear that she was playing very well. The duo went on to play ulat or reverse jhala and rounded off with some more taan-toda.

The vilambit teental gatkari went on to a vigorous development of rhythmic patterns after the initial melodic forays. Both the artistes played impressively, the father with his occasional roughness and the daughter with her lower volume. The patterns were rounded off with a variety of tihais. Samar Saha, playing the tabla with his usual skill, did not seriously try to repeat or reply to the rhythms or tihais of the sitars, but played patterns of his own with impressive bayan work.

The vilambit gatkari ended with another round of taan-toda. There was no saath-sangat. This used to be a regular feature of Manilal Nag’s recitals in his heyday. The drut gatkari, also in teental, settled down to clear, four-stroke sulat jhala, the hallmark of the final part of Manilal Nag’s recitals. Here he again had some problems with the pitch of the high sadaj.

The final piece of the recital was a Pilu dhun and ragamalika, starting with an aochar and going on to rupak tal gatkari that had to be ended rather abruptly as time was running out.