Dinkar Kaikini turns 60
By MOHAN NADKARNI
The Economic Times, September 27, 1987
A major musical event scheduled in the coming week to provide a varied treat to highbrow connoisseurs of this metropolis.
An all-night concert is being held at the Podar College auditorium on October 3, in which several top-notchers as well as stylists of the younger generation will gather together to offer their tribute to Pandit Dinkar Kaikini to mark his 60th birthday.
The celebrated author, humorist and playwright, Pu. La. Deshpande, will be the chief guest to felicitate the veteran performing artiste, innovator, composer, teacher and scholar. As is known, “Pu. La.” Also happens to be a keen connoisseur of music and, for that reason, the marathon programme will have its fair share of sugar and spice for the audience.
It is rarely that an erudite scholar and teacher is able to retain is performing abilities. And Kaikini happens to belong that rare breed. As Principal of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s College and Music and Dance, he has devoted himself to imparting scholastic education in music to male and female students for almost two decades. Yet the rigours of the profession have done little to affect the quality of his voice, known for its rich and full tone in the lower and middle registers and equally secure and brilliant timbre at the top.
Nor has the teaching job dulled his initiative and formalised his music. His versatility covers a wide compass, and he can render anything from Dhrupad, dhamar and khayal to tappa, thumri and bhajan with equal facility and felicity. He has also to his credit and impressive array of self-composed ragas like Guna-Ranjani, Bhoopavali and Khem-Dhvani. He has also penned several Bandishes (compositions) under the pseudonym “Dina-Rang” and has also set them to traditional as also self-composed melodies.
A traditionalist by temperament and training, Kaikini is basically eclectic in his approach both as a teacher and as a performing artiste. His open mind and innovative acumen have helped him to widen his outlook in matters musical.
It is not difficult to say when and how he evolved this eclectic approach. It was at the age of 7 that he was first exposed to the mysteries of Hindustani music–when young Dinkar was placed under the tutelage of Karekatte Nagesh Rao, a veteran exponent of the Patiala gharana. Then he came under the influence, for a short period though, of Omkarnath Thakur, the eminent maestro of the Gwalior gharana. Omkarnath was something of a gate-crasher in traditional music who courageously shaped an individual style of his own, but rooted in the gharana system.
But it was from the tutelage of S. N. Ratanjankar, one of the most eminent musicologists and musicians of our time that Kaikini received his long but rewarding training and flowered into what he is today–an executants with a keen sense of style and a keener sense of aesthetics. While undergoing his studentship with Ratanjankar at the Bhatkhande University of Music at Lucknow, he also had the benefit of guidance from his senior guru bandhus like S.C.R. Bhat in the clear enunciation and exploration of ragas.
Kaikini’s innovative ability found scope for expression in the course of his association with AIR Delhi for 17 years as producer of music till 1971. While at AIR, he distinguished himself as a perceptive composer, with over a hundred presentations to his credit. The work involved the composing and conducting of choral numbers based on classical melodies, and scoring music for plays and ballets. In between he also composed the music for the film “Ahimsa”, produced by Alexander Markey, the well-known American director.
A little known fact relates to his brief change in his career-first in the singing role of the legendary Tansen in the ballet “The Discovery of India”, the music for which incidentally was scored by the sitar maestro, Ravi Shankar; and then as a playback artiste in the choral item “Mere to Giridhar Gopala” in Gulzar’s “Meeraa”, the music for which was also given by Ravi Shankar. Ironically, the film through rich in music, somehow failed at the box-office.
As a classical performer, what puts Kaikini in a class by himself is note merely his professional attainments or academic achievements–he is the recipient of a gold medal at the Bhatkhande University–it is his rate insight into the very spirit of the various contemporary gharana styles. True, his vocalism bears a deep impact of the style of Faiyaz Khan, acclaimed as the finest exponent of the Agra gharana of this century. But it is there, not as an inhibited mindless representation of the Ustad’s gayaki, but as a fine display of classical restraint and emotional freedom, which were also the qualities associated with Faiyaz Khan’s music.
Kaikini joined the Bhavan’s college of music and dance in response to an invitation from its management. This was a call of duty to work in a new field–the field of teaching, for which he gladly quit his AIR’s job. So deep has been his involvement with teaching that he seldom condescends to give concert recitals. But whenever he sings, he emerges as a vocalist par excellence.
Dinkar has undertaken many tours abroad. The latest one was the fifth in the series, early this year. It covered all the major cities of America and Britain. As in the past, he told me that this tour had a two-fold purpose. Apart from giving concerts, his object was to present to discerning audiences abroad the different facets of Hindustani gayaki, theoretically, scientifically and aesthetically, through his lecture-demonstrations. As he told me, many of his performances were combined with lecture-demonstrations at several leading universities.
Come to think of it, Kaikini’s lecture demonstrations on the concert platform, as also on television, are as much a delight to listen to, as his vocal recitals. For, he is a fluent speaker with a Savoir faire for putting across his point in a simple and direct manner.
Dinkar Kaikini is blessed with a musical family. His wife, Shashikala, is a vocalist in her own right and, like her husband, she devotes her time to singing and teaching. Their younger son, Yogesh, holds positive promise of maturing into a top percussionist under the guidance of the veteran Allah Rakah and his son, Zakir Hussain. His eldest son, Rajesh, and married daughter, Aditi, have chosen to pursue music as a joyous hobby.
I learn that Kaikini has planned to relinquish his principalship of the music college to devote himself completely to the work connected with the foundation which has been recently set up to commemorate the contribution of his illustrious mentor, rightly known as “Acharya” Rantanjankar. One hopes that he will also take time off to undertake the grooming of hand-picked young talent to shape them into true concert performance of tomorrow in the true parampara way, that is, through direct rapport between master and disciple.
All said and done, it is only through such a rapport that a brighter future for traditional music as an art-form can be assured. After all, scholastic education, with all its advantages, has not served to throw up performers of caliber, if one goes by the experience of last 50 years. The kind of progress in music as a performing art, such as one witnesses it, has been horizontal, and not vertical. It is against this background that the importance of the parampara way has to be understood and appreciated.