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A Fine “Jugalbandi”, But….

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A Fine “Jugalbandi”, But…. By MOHAN NADKARNI
The Economic Times, November 1, 1987


It is comforting to find that Bombay Doordarshan has embarked on a series of programmes based on Hindustani music, designed to highlight young and conspicuous talent of vocalists and instrumentalists.

Doubly so, because it comes at a time when building but gifted youngsters seldom find adequate representation in the performing schedules of major musical events that come and go, rather ritualistically, as “sangeet sammelans” in metropolitan places such as Bombay, Calcutta and Delhi.

I have never been an avid TV watcher. First, my choice is restricted mainly to programmes of classical music, secondly, I am an early riser, and I find that watching concerts featured in the late hours of the night do no suit my daily routine, however celebrated the artiste. My delight is therefore all the greater, because the newly started TV series is featured in the early hours of the evening. Each is a half-hour programme and held on the fourth Wednesday of every month.

The latest one, titled “Subaddha Sangee”, presented Milind Chittal (28) and Shivanand Patil (27) in jugalbandi. The repertoire comprised six popular evening and night melodies. The formal of the feature, conceived and produced by the redoubtable Suhashini Mulgaokar, was novel and interesting. It began with a joint singing in Kalavati by the young duo. The tall-piece was also a duet, in Basanat. In between came brief, tidy drut rendition in solo. There were four ragas, namely, Marwa, Patdeep, YamanKalyan and Bageshri, which the artistes rendered by turns. This section was titled, rather intriguingly, “Raga Sagar”, but more about this, later in this column.

My interest in the programme lay in the quality of performance of the artistes. And I gave them three cheers for their splendid effort. For, pairing in music – quite contrary to popular belief – is a pretty difficult device, and it calls for patient practice and a close understanding between the partners to put through a successful effort.

Both in Kalavati and Basant, the singers showed a meticulous attention to form and correct insight into the individual modal character of their ragas. While Chittal preferred to unfold the slower phases of depiction, Patil showed greater vigour and animation in the faster movements. Yet, both lent a happy poise and balance to their jugalbandi.

By the same token, Chittal’s solo items in Marwa and Yaman-Kalyan and Patil’s Patdeep and Bageshri reflected their individual temperamental make-up as much as their high aesthetic sensibilities. In sum, “Subaddha Sangeet” was a concert that proved enjoyable and memorable, too, in its own right.

Now, coming to the title of the feature. I am afraid “Raga Sagar” is a misnomer. Terms like “Raga Sagar”, or “Raga Mala”, or “Ragamalika” imply a collective presentation of a string of melodies, related or unrelated, in the course of a single composition. In the process the composition, as an integral musical piece, comes to assume the variegated character of a garland, in which one finds an uncanny fusion of the chosen melodies. If the composition involves depiction of a great number of ragas, it is conventionally known as “Raga Sagar”.

In the case of the programme under review, what emerged was a totally different sound-picture. Mere juxtaposition of just four melodies, sung alternately and in solo by two artistes, through distinct and different bandishes, simply does not add up to a “Raga Sagar”. If anything, the programme served to highlight, and justifiably, the talent of the singers as perceptive soloists.

And finally, it has been my experience that it is in the joint presentation of a khayal vilambit and drut in a chosen raga that the performing caliber of the singing partners is best highlighted, in terms of their solo as well as individual contribution. I feel the concert could have made a far greater impact if Chittal and Patil were billed to present a single melody in khayal vilambit and drut, say, for about 25 minutes, followed by another brief raga composition in the fast tempo, to round off.

The accompanying ensemble comprised veterans like Iqbal Hussain (sarangi), Tulsidas Borkar (harmonium) and that young and adroit percussionist, Omkar Gulvady. Chandrakanat Kapileshwari’s compereship was just passable.

A word about the main artistes. Both Chittal and Patil are highly educated. But they are no professional artistes in the conventional sense. They are well-placed in their respective jobs. It therefore speaks of their talent and dedication that they have managed to undergo long and fruitful professional grooming in classical music from contemporary masters of many leading gharanas and also achieve a delicate and difficult balance between the compulsions of their work-a-day life and the equally compelling urge for a worthwhile musical career.

Incidentally, both have been AIR broadcasters since their student days, and there is no reason why they should not find place in regular concerts on the public platform.

All in all, Bombay Doordarshan deserves encomiums for its imaginative venture. Features like “Subaddha Sangeet” (can’t its frequency be accelerated?) should prove to be a launching pad for talented youngsters to make it to the public platform.


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