The exquisitely lit lawns of the India International Centre resounded with classical ragas rendered with both flair and fidelity by young vocalist Nandini Bedekar in a touching, rich tribute to the life and times of her Guru, the legendary Kishori Amonkar.
Ganasaraswati Kishori Amonkar, who passed away in April this year at the age of 84, was one of the towering figures of the Jaipur-Atrauli Gharana; but she transcended the conventional framework of gharanas evoking various feelings or bhaavas within the ragas in her renditions, through her sadhana over the years.
Nandini Bedekar picked up the finer aspects of the Jaipur-Atrauli Gharana through her tutelage under Amonkar as per the guru-shishya tradition, often accompanying her on the tanpura during concerts. The concert last evening, organized by the Raza Foundation as part of the IIC’s ongoing Festival of the Arts, was a befitting homage to this tradition.
The audience witnessed the young, promising vocalist render Raag Puriya Dhanshree in a meditative state at dusk with the tanpura resting over her shoulder.
She started off with a Vilambit Khayal (Kaise Din Kati Rain) set to teen taal (16 beat rhythmic cycle), taking her time to expose the complex nuances of the raga based on the Purvi thaat. The delicate progression of the raga with intricately placed minor notes in the ascent and descent makes presenting the raga in all its glory a difficult task and Bedekar did absolute justice to the composition.
She followed this up with a commonly sung drut bandish sung in the same raga Payaliya Jhankaar Mori and embellished it with impressive taankari and gamak. The evening came to an end with Raag Kedar – a mellifluous kalyaan thaat raag named after Lord Shiva. The ease with she comfortably manoeuvred between the two melodically different ragas was praiseworthy.
Bedekar was ably accompanied by Vinod Lele of the Benaras Gharana on the tabla and Vinay Mishra on the harmonium.
As a senior disciple of Kishori Amonkar, her singing bore striking resemblance to her Guru’s in many ways, wherein she cut through the raga and exposed the myriad ways to approach the raga in a relaxed manner drawing inspiration from the different ras described in the shastras taught to her by her guru. The singer’s vocal prowess with impressive throw and range managed to leave the audience spellbound.
Eminent poet Ashok Vajpeyi, Managing Trustee of the Raza Foundation, talked about what made Kishori Tai stand apart as a singer who vocalised spiritual and existential loneliness and an urge to merge with cosmos at it were and how she could talk about the texts written in the shastras with scholarly erudition.
The tribute was a reminder that musicians like Kishori Amonkar will remain immortal because of their body of work and disciples like Nandini Bedekar are tasked with carrying forward that legacy.
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