The second edition of Uttaradhikar, Raza Foundation’s annual cultural series celebrating India’s Guru-Shishya learning tradition kicked off here on Tuesday evening with performances by Sitar artist Rajeev Janardan and Kathak dancer Rupanshi Kashyap.
Delhi-based Janardan opened the concert at the India Habitat Centre with an ‘alaap’ in Raag Yaman, punctuating his resplendent strains with the ‘bandish’ Kajra Kaise Daru, Piya Nahin Aaye More. He developed the musical story further with ‘jor’ and ‘jhala’ until a soulful climax was reached.
Janardan followed it up with Vilambit, Madhya laya and Drut compositions, in order to reach the essence of Raag Yaman. A sitar player of the illustrious ImdadKhani Gharana, Janardan has trained under gurus Pandit Bimalendu Mukherjee and Pandit Arvind Parikh.
Since the Uttaradhikar series organised by Raza Foundation is based on the concept of eminent gurus in Indian classical arts passing on their baton to deserving disciples, Janardan acknowledged his deep musical debt to his teachers.
“My father and I would stand on the doorsteps of Pandit Bimalendu Mukherjee’s house in Bhilai at 5:00 am every day, hoping that he would make me his disciple. Eventually he relented and I started training with him since the age of 12, for more than three decades,” recalled Janardan. “This endeavour by Raza Foundation to take the Guru-Shishya parampara to the next level is really commendable. They have offered a platform to the disciple to take the teacher’s tradition and style forward. For a disciple like me, it feels rewarding to be chosen,” he added.
Janardan acknowledges that the ImdadKhani Gharana is all about complete command over the sitar strings. The mastery is so exquisite that maestros need not even touch strings to evoke sounds. Within the discipline of the ‘gharana’, the sitar artist has introduced certain personal signatures. “My endeavour is to create a dialogue with the audience through my compositions. I treat the ‘raag’ as a story and develop it throughout the length of my performance,” said Janardan, who is equally proficient in Rudra Veena and Surbahar.
Ahmedabad-based Rupanshi Kashyap’s Kathak recital added a new dimension to the concert. A disciple of legendary Kathak dancer Padma Bhushan Kumudini Lakhia, she began her training at the Kadamb Centre for Dance in Ahmedabad as a child.
A traditional Kathak solo marked the beginning of Kashyap’s ‘abhinaya’ performance in Vilambit and Vilambit Madhya laya. She followed it up with a tarana in Ek tal, which was also an ‘abhinaya’ in a Vilambit composition, set to the lyrics Main Ka Piya Bulave, Apne Mandir Va. The entire composition was choreographed by Lakhia, one of the most-feted classical dancers in India right now. Dressed in a stunning traditional costume, Kashyap focused on her ghungroo rhythms while her fantastic pirouettes were complemented by live music on stage.
Paying homage to her iconic teacher, Kashyap recounted how she used to accompany her mother to Kadamb as a child and was mesmerised by Lakhia’s vocabulary of movement. “Kadamb is like my home now. I feel the most comfortable here and also the most happy,” she said.
Although the young Kashyap is still in the process of developing her style, she is firm about one thing. “I want to play around with ‘laykaari’ and rhythm in my recitals.”
On Wednesday (Oct 4) the festival will feature Hindustani vocal concert by Saniya Patankar, a disciple of Vidushi Ashwini Bhide Deshpande and Manipuri dance by S Karuna Devi, a disciple of Preeti Patel.
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