By MOHAN NADKARNI
The Economic Times, April 30, 1989
Sharad Sathe, a leading vocalist sang for over three hours for the Dadar-Matunga Cultural Center on April 23. To say that the rich and varied repertoire of khayals and taranas, all rendered in ever-green traditional melodies, came as the very epitome of pure classicism, is to make an understatement. There was much more to it. Whatever he sang, he achieved an uncanny balance between what is aesthetic or emotional, and what is intellectural and scholarly.
Sathe, who has had the privilege of studentship with erudite master musicians and scholars like the late Pandit D. V. Paluskar, Pandit B. R. Deodhar and Pandit Sharadchandra Arolkar for nearly four decades, began with Bhimpalas followed by Poorvi and Des, till the interval. Later, he offered Yaman and the celebrated Mira bhajan, Ankhiyan Hari Darsan Ki Pyasi, immortalised by his first guru through his recorded disc. The presentations, as mentioned earlier, were khayals in vilambit drut and tarana, except the composition in Des which was in madhyalaya.
Endowed with an extensive range of voice, Sathe mustered an abundance of melodic content in his presentations. The well-defined akaar, the detailed exploration in vilambit, the typical bolalaps and the intricate but well-pronounced bol-taans and taans were all reflective not only of his singleminded studentship with his gurus but also his equally determined riyaz, to evolve a style with a distinctive stamp of his own. There was no notational jugglery nor any carving for showmanship for sheer effect — a temptation to which many box-office celebrities are seen to succumb.
So were his tarana numbers in Poorvi and Yaman. Though brief and sung in a superfast tempo, they showed his clarity of intonation and precision for rhythm. The devotional, full of fervor and feeling, triggered nostalgic memories of the music of D. V. Paluskar, with whom it was a favourite piece to round off. All in all, here was a recital that afforded a rich, aesthetic experience.
What resounds to Sathe’s credit is that he is a science graduate and a senior commercial artiste by profession. A regular radio and television artiste, he participates in major musical events that are held in different parts of India. Connoisseurs will recall that he had also the rare privilege to lend his voice for the film division documentary on Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar, the great missionary in Hindustani music and father of his first guru.
Typical of Sathe’s involvement in the cause of music was provided by him at this concert when he announced, in the presence of his large audience, a personal donation of Rs 500 to the building fund for the cultural centre which has plans to construct a bigger auditorium.
Equally memorable was Sathe’s choice of the sarangi in preference to the harmonium to provide him instrumental support. It was played by the Pune-based veteran, Madhukar Khadilkar, whose sangat with his sensitive medium made one recall the mehfils of the years gone by, when the sarangi was a ‘must’ in all concerts of vocal music. It is tragic that such an instrument, whose tone comes nearest to the human voice, has almost gone out of use on the concert platform because of the preference from most present day vocalists for the tempered-scale harmonium.
Young Omkar Gulvady, the brilliant percussionist, added to the dignity of Sathe’s performance by his restrained sangat. Mention must also be made of the right degree of vocal sangat that came from Vijay Modak, a senior student of Sathe and Smita, his gifted daughter. Like her father, Smita has already begun to show her versatility – in the allied disciplines of dance and music. Already, she has established herself as a talented exponent of Bharata Natyam from among the emerging generation of dancers.