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SRA fellowships for Bombay stalwarts

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The Economic Times, January 3, 1988

Pandit Manikbhuva Thakurdas (77) and Ustad Mohammad Ahmed Khan (74), both city veterans, have been selected for the conferment of the fellowship awards instituted by the Sangeet Research Academy of ITC, Calcutta, in recognition of their contribution to the enrichment and propagation of Hindustani music.

The fellowships, each of the value of Rs 10,000 are given to stalwarts from Maharashtra every year. As in the past, they will be presented to the recipients on the occasion of the annual Gharana Sammelan to be held in Bombay for three days from Friday.

Pandit Thakurdas has been known as a doughty crusader in the field. A scholar-musician and erudiate teacher of a rare kind, his views and opinions on the contemporary methods of teaching Hindustani music have evoked extreme reactions. As the founder-principal of Rupayatan, at Dadar, in central Bombay, for more than two decades, he has engaged himself in relentless research in the art, science and aesthetics of Hindustani music.

He has authored and published several definitive books. His latest work, “Raga darshan”, in Hindi has been published only a few weeks ago. Over the years, he has evolved and perfected an independent approach to the subject, which purports to challenge several postulates put forward by eminent authorities like Pandit Bhatkhande.

Pandit Thakurdas inherits a rich and extensive repertoire of hundreds of well-known and less-known ragas and talas from his illustrious father and guru. Yeshwantbuva, a leading disciple of the maestro, Bhaskarbuva Bakhale, who flourished in the early decades of this century.

Pandit has also had the privilege and guidance from veterans of yesteryear, like Master Krishnarao Phulambrikar, popularly known as “Maser Krishnarao”. Like his master, he has experimented with composing the raga-based music for Marathi plays and is credited to have presented the first-ever jugalbandhi on the concert platform decades ago.

Indore-born Pandit Thakurdas has a large following of disciples, most of whom have taken to teaching.

Ustad Mohammed Ahmed Khan, who hails form Delhi, is a scion of an illustrious house of tabla-players, who are known as the exponents of what is called the Delhi Gharana. His grandfather, Ustad Nanhe Khan, was not only a leading percussionist but also a sensitive sarangi-player. His valuable guidance to his grandson resulted in a rare combination of percussion artistry and musical sensitivity, the qualities that distinguish Mohammed Ahmed’s art.

The Ustad has had the privilege of accompanying three generations of eminent musicians, both vocalists and instrumentalists, for over fifty years. To name a few, the mestro with whom he has played are Rajabali Khan, Alladiya Khan, Faiyaz Khan, Begum Aktar (vocalists) and Ravi Shankar (sitar), Ali Akbar Khan (sarod) and Vilayat Khan (sitar).

The Ustad is equally known as a soloist. A regular broadcaster and telecaster, he has given his recitals at all major musical events in India as well as abroad. He has trained a large number of disciples in this country as also in Europe, and despite advancing age and indifferent health, he is still engaged in his teaching profession with the zest and enthusiasm which would be the envy of artistes half his age.


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