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Delightful fare from Mani Prasad

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The Economic Times, July 2, 1989


It has been my experience all these years that an artiste’s solo recital in a multi-artiste sammelan session and another, at an independent concert, does make a good deal of difference. Except in very rare cases does an artiste in a sammelan is seen to prove his mettle.

To the majority of performers, it would seem that the awareness of their rigid performing time-schedule at sammelans tends to inhibit their musicianship.

This is what possibly happened to the Delhi based senior vocalist, Mani Prasad, when he sang for the NCPA at its Little Theatre on June 9. It was a full-fledged solo.

Mani Prasad comes of a well-known musical lineage. He is the son and the disciple of Sukhdev Prasad, whom I had occasion to hear as a regular broadcaster from Lucknow and Delhi, years ago. I still have haunting memories of his virle, robust singing.

As it happened, it was only at marathon sammelans that his son’s performances were heard in Bombay in the past. And almost every time I heard him at those soirees, my impression of his music appeared to me just competent or passable.

To my delight and surprise, it was a totally different Mani Prasad whom I heard at the NCPA programme. It is quite possible that years of patient riyaz and the sort of mellow maturity that comes with age and experience together made for true listening fulfillment at this recital.

Singing in an imposing voice that, incidentally matched the veteran’s personality, Mani Prasad began with khayals vilambit and drut, each in Marwa and Yaman. The melody, he offered next, was Chandrakauns, set otmadhyalaya in jhatptaal. The tail-piece was also a khayal in Jaijaiwanti, oriented to Des and set to medium tempo.

In their form and fashioning, all the numbers showed his individual style and approach. I did not discern much of his father’s impress in his depictions. But there were touches of the influence of Amir Khan and Bade Ghulam Ali Khan in the course of their portraiture. Sargams and taans there were, that reminded us of those two Ustads, but he employed them wisely and well. That was how the recital provided us a truly delightful evening.

Credit must also be shared in full measure by his equally mature accompanists – Sampatlal, on the tabla, and Ramesh Kumar Jule, on the harmonium. Their playing moved in intimate accord with the main singer’s music. It was an example of how accompanists should play their part.


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