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Imitating maestro’s style

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The Economic Times, May 21, 1989

Anant Terdal, a Belgaum-based vocalist, provided an utterly pleasant evening, at the NCPA’s Little Theatre, on May 15. By all accounts, it was his debut in the city. Undeterred by poor audience attendance – which, incidentally, has been an unnerving feature of most classical performances sponsored by NCPA at the mini-auditorium – the artiste got going with a choice repertoire.

It comprised Yaman-Kalyan (vilambit and drut) followed by abhogi (madhyalaya and drut). We next heard the celebrated Marathi state song, “Chandrika hi janu”, for a brief while, after which he rounded off with the bandish “Ham se piya sang” in Bhairavi, immensely popularised by the exponents of the Kirana gharana.

After learning his basics in Hindustani music from Baburao Borkar, Terdal sought guidance from G. D. Joshi of the Gwalior gharana and Rambhau Joshi of the Kirana gharana.

What amazed the audience was Terdal’s flair for imitational representation. He has never learnt from Bhimsen Joshi but he has imbibed so much of the Kirana doyen’s style and manner that one was inevitably reminded of the epic story of Ekalavya from the Mahabharata. In this sense, he can as well be called as an indirect disciple of Bhimsen Joshi!

What also compelled unstinted admiration is that although Tederal’s voice, with all it sonority and range, does not have the depth and volume of Bhimsen, he has successfully overcome the lacuna to bring into focus, and with telling effect, all the attributes for which his “indirect” mentor is so famous. Even his selection of accompanists was significant – the veterans Nana Muley on the tabla and Purushotham Walawalkar on the harmonium, both of whom have now come to be known as the inseparable instrumental saathidars of Bhimsen. The rapport between them was complete and, together, they put through a programme which ardent fans of the maestro may well have sorely missed.

Having said this, it must also be cautiously pointed out to Terdal that he should make a serious and sincere attempt to eschew what looks like an obsession with Bhimsen’s gayaki. To remain content with a mere imitation of a celebrity is good so far as it goes. But it does not take one far enough. It is still not too late for the artiste to try to evolve his distinctively individual approach even while keeping his moorings firmly in the gharana ideology. And one hopes he will.


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