Malhar Festival at Kolkata - 19th & 20th September 2015
Althoughtechnically the monsoon has shed its last rains by the end of August and beaten a retreat, this time the weather Gods decreed that September should continue to be wet. On the evenings of 19th and 20th September, it rained incessantly. The interiors of the auditorium at GD Birla Sabhagar reverberated to the vocal and instrumental strains of the Malhar Ragas.
The Malhar Festival of ITC Sangeet Research Academy, inaugurated by Shri Pradeep Dhobale Executive Director at ITC Ltd, was a tribute to a family of Ragas that hold a unique place in the pantheon of Hindustani Classical Music.
It also celebrated the spirit of the season. Distinguished musicians of the city, music lovers and aficionados were in the audience. The newly appointed US Consul General in Kolkata, Mr Craig L Hall, and his wife Mrs Meeryung Hall graced the function with their presence.
The festival began with vilambit and drut khayals in Raga Megh performed by Smt. Aparajita Lahiri Brahmachari, a Scholar of the Academy under Dr Girija Devi.
She followed up her excellent exploration of the Raga with a Thumri in Mishra Majh Khamaj and an impassioned rendering of a Kajri to suit the occasion.
Shri Abir Hussain, Musician Tutor of ITC SRA who trained under Pandit Buddhadev Das Gupta and later on also under Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty, presented Raga Miyan ki Malhar.
His melodious playing highlighted the characteristics of this most popular member of the family through an inspired alap, jod and jhala presentation. He was ably accompanied by Shri Jayanta Chatterjee on tabla.
Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar’s masterly rendition of Raga Jayant Malhar concluded the first evening’s programme. A compound of Jaijaiwanti and Malhar, the Raga unfolded itself majestically in Ulhasji’s virtuoso treatment.
With his signature layakari, magnificent taankari and well-enunciated gamaks, he recreated the nuances of the dynamic sounds of the monsoon, in which he was helped by traditional bandishes along with one received from his celebrated Guru, Pandit Ramashrey Jha. The two Ragas that constitute Jayant Malhar resounded throughout his performance, creating a soundscape that was both unique as well as rooted in tradition.
The second day began with a performance by Shri Sameehan Kashalkar, where he was accompanied by Shri Sanjay Adhikary on tabla. Through traditional bandishes, a splendid badhat, gamak oscillations, and scintillating boltaans, he explored the possibilities of Raga Miyan ki Malhar.
His impeccable training from his celebrated father came through in his rendering. Sameehan concluded with a Dadra learnt from Vidushi Girija Devi, who is also his Guru.
The vitality of Raga Desh came out in the Jugalbandi of vioilin and slide guitar presented by Shri Saket Sahu, Scholar under Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty, and Shri Ratan Bharati, who trains under Pandit Partha Chatterjee. Providing them with magnificent accompaniment on tabla was Shri Ashoke Mukherjee.
Always mindful of the mood of the Raga, the duo kept up a wonderful interplay between their instruments and their individual styles, responding to each other with complementary phrases and instinctive understanding.
The finale of this year’s Malhar was drawn up by Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty where he was accompanied by Shri Indranil Bhaduri on tabla and Smt. Rupashree Bhattacharya on harmonium. He took the route of Miyan ki Malhar to Mirabai Malhar via Sorat Malhar.
Presenting traditional bandishes as well as a self-composed Thumri, Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty did justice to his immense reputation and learning. It was a festival. The strains of Mirabai Malhar, with its mood perfectly setting off the last rains of the monsoon to make way for the white clouds of autumn, provided a fitting conclusion to the celebration of a season that spells hope and prosperity.