Love and music are inseparable twins. Love is expressed best through music. Likewise, one of music’s biggest sources of inspiration is love. Last Saturday, about 60 students of Indian classical music experienced the awesome combination of love and music at a programme organised by the city-based group called Music Circle.
Renowned classical singer Rajashree Pathak was accompanied by tabla maestro P Mukundraj Deo in her rendition of thumri, which is a rich form of classical music that is romantic and devotional in nature, and usually revolves around a girl’s love for Lord Krishna. Pathak, who is a disciple of the legendary queen of thumri Shobha Gurtu, filled the air with the sounds of love like only an accomplished singer like her can. The students benefited immensely as they got the opportunity to learn the finer nuances of thumri.
While on stage, Pathak narrated what she called one of her fondest memories on stage. She was playing tanpura at a concert organised by the Indian Music Group. The two performers that day were her guru Shobha Gurtu from Banaras Gharana and Nirmala Arun, mother of the actor Govinda, who was also a renowned thumri singer from Patiala Gharana. Their jugalbandi (duet) was accompanied by the tabla maestros Ustad Nizamuddin Khan and Ustad Zakir Hussain. “This event took place 25 years ago, but remains fresh in my memory. Even today I am spellbound by the reminiscence of that performance,” she said.
The 85-member strong Music Circle is run by senior students of Shri Ganesh Nritya Kala Mandir, where they learn performing arts like tabla, classical dance, or classical music. All programmes are managed by the member students, who organise one programme every three months or so. The group was formally inaugurated on 10 July 2005 at the hands of a veteran of Indian classical music, Lalaji Desai.
The idea behind Music Circle is to close the gap between the performing artists and the audience. In early days, the audience, often comprising students of music, interacted closely with the performers. But in these days of commercialisation of classical music, the artists perform on stage and have very little, if any, direct interaction with the audiences. “I felt that genuine lovers of the art should get an opportunity to closely observe, and learn from, performers who are talented but often unknown,” said Pt Mukundraj Deo, who is also the founder of the group. Deo is of the opinion that it is imperative for a student of any art to have a profound understanding of the art. “How can one render the highly expressive thumri unless you grasp its essence?” he asks.
Women of Culture
Talking about music, a group of women from Jai Ganaraj Society located in Ramchandra Nagar, Thane, were so disappointed with the remix and pop culture that has inundated our social and community gatherings that they decided to do something to preserve Indian culture.
Instead of playing the routine remixed music at the annual social gathering that took place in their society, these women prepared and presented a cultural programme called “Maharashtrachi Lokdhara”, which showcased Maharashtra’s rich cultural tradition, its historical backgrounds, literature, music and art. The audience loved the programme and soon the word spread outside. In no time they began to get invitations to perform at other community events. Since then they have already given as many as 10 performances in Thane and Mulund.
The one-hour programme, which starts with Ganesh Vandana, depicts household activities of women in rural areas. Folk songs and folk dances like powada, mangla gaur, lavni, koli, dindi, and many more are staged.
The 12 women, most of who are aged more than 50 years, manage to find time to practise regularly in spite of their domestic chores or employment duties. That they don’t charge for their shows tells a lot about their dedication towards their cause of preserving Indian culture.