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Pandit Nageshkar felicitated

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The Economic Times, February 5, 1989

The Dadar-Matunga Cultural Centre burst at the seams last week-end. It was, in fact, the week’s major event, organised by the disciples, friends and admirers of Pandit Pandharinath Nageshkar, the tabla maestro, on his 75th birthday.

Although the event was not much publicised through the conventional media channels, the overwhelming turn-out on the occasion, which represented almost every segment of the musical community in the widest sense of the term, was truly reflective of the esteem and respectful admiration in which the self-effacing Panditji is held in the cultural milieu of this metropolis.

An uncanny spirit of bonhomie suffused the heart-warming atmosphere for almost five-hours. The most heart-warming aspect of the proceedings was the presence of Ustad Allah Rakha, the world renowned percussion maestro, who was enlisted to felicitate Pandit Nageshkar. It was indeed a sight for the Gods to see the felicitation when the Ustad and Panditji hugged each other in a rare emotional moment.

As is always the case at such events, the proceeding comprised the musical part and the verbal part, in which eminent speakers paid their tributes to Panditji for his contribution to percussion music in terms of unstinted vidya daan for the best part of his life in the true parampara way.

Coming first to the musical part. The proceedings began with solo recitals by the popular young vocalist Ashwini Bhide-Deshpande, followed by Suresh Talwalkar, one of Panditji’s most outstanding disciples. After the function, the noted sarodist, Zarin Sharma (Daruwalla), provided the finale.

Ashwini’s fare comprised vilambit and drut khayals each in Bhimpalas and Bhoop-Nat. Singing in a sonorous silvery voice, she invested her depictions with her usual sense of visualisation. The melodic explorations were compact, in which each phrase, each pattern and each sequence showed specific purpose and design in the scheme.

The deep impress of Kishori Amonkar’s style was in evidence all throughout. There were also refreshing hints of originality in her approach. One feels sure, therefore, that in time to come, she will eventually come out of Kishori’s influence and evolve an idiom of her own. She was accompanied by the veteran harmonist, Tulsidas Borkar and the bright young percussionist, Vijay Ghate.

Suresh Talwalkar’s expositions in Deepchandi and Ada-Choutaal, replete with a mind-boggling variety of rhythmic virtues, fully vindicated his studentship with Panditji, backed by his own relentless riyaz a dedication. The packed auditorium reverberated to the sonorieties of his play.

Zarin, who ranks among today’s top-notch virtuosi, unfolded a magnificent portraiture of raga Jog in alap, jod and jhala, followed by gat compositions in vilambit and drut to the brilliant support from Vibhav Nageshkar, the young worthy son of Panditji.

In between came the felicitation, which began in a traditional manner, with Vedic recitations by two priests. Brief speeches then came from Arun Athalye, vice-president and one of the oldest disciples of Panditji. Next to come was Tanil Kilachand, president of the function and a leading patron of classical music. While these two dignitaries spoke of the qualities of head and heart of Pandit Nageshkar, it was Pandit Ginde who, as the chief guest, explained the significance of the guru-shishya parampara. As he rightly summed it up, guru should not be looked upon merely as a teacher, but one who imparts a sense of vision to his shishya. He hailed Pandit Nageshkar as one such rare guru.

Ustad Allah Rakha spoke glowingly of Panditji’s single-minded dedication and his unquenchable urge to propagate his vidya even at this age. He was particularly appreciative of Panditji’s virtues of patience, perseverance and love which which he initiated even tiny tots into the mysteries of taal-vidya as few else could.


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