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A visual feast of folk fusion

Statesman News Service |

Bhugra Khan Manganiar imbibed the rich musical tradition of Rajasthan at an early age and was introduced to formal training in folk music by Gafoor Khan Manganiar. He is a khartal player who accompanied many famous musicians like Krishan Mohan Bhatt, Sujaat Khan, Anindo Chatterjee, Sultan Khan, Shankar Mahadevan  and Kumudini Lakhia. He was accompanied by Manjoor Khan on the dholak and Nehru Khan on the harmonium. Loona Khan and Bhutta Khan sang, and Bhawaru Khan played the sarangi. The flavour of folk music enveloped one and all with the bhajan “Radha Rani bansuri de do hamari”, with Manganiar playing his khartal lustily. This was in raga Malhar and tal Kaharba, where Krishna says in jest that his flute is not of gold nor silver. The second piece “Dhuma Lari”, in raga Saurat and tal Deepchandi was a paramparik lok geet — a kind of wedding song — which also involved a kind of regular jugalbandi with the dholak and khartal. They also sang a popular geet that involved the audience in keeping the beat. The third one was a Narayan Das bhajan in raga Malhar, urging all friends to accept the guru by smearing kesar tilak on the forehead. A Sufi song placing the utmost faith in Allah was marvellously rendered.

Prahlad Digambar Kadam was rewarded for his contribution to the folk music of Maharashtra. Adept at playing the dholki — his skill honed by his great-grandfather Rajarambapu Kadam and subsequently by Vithal Srisagar and Hanif Khan Mirajkumar — he is a key player in popularising Gondal art. No less is his contribution to Sambal drumming. In the brief recital he gave, he amply proved himself in playing a Lavni toda on his dholki followed by a dadra theka. His Sambal drumming provided the audience with a brief glimpse of the lok vadya, which is played in the villages of Maharashtra during the festival of Gomdal Mata. This practice has been handed down from generation to generation.

Talented folk artist and award-winner Dhyananda Panda of Odisha presented a plethora of  drummers on stage, performing  folk dances like Singari, Banabadi, Bajasal and Ghumra zestfully. Female dancers joined them, dancing spontaneously and incorporating the art of manoeuvring intricate designs with long sticks.

The recipient of an award for Hindustani instrumental music, Anubrata Chatterjee, schooled by Jnan Prakash Ghosh of the Farrukabad gharana, presently under the tutelage of his father Anindo Chatterjee, established himself with the teental played with gusto. He mesmerised the audience with a gat from the Lucknow gharana, besides playing a kaida in Chakradhar from his guru Jnan Prakash Ghosh. With Hironmay Mitra giving him backing with tuneful delineations —  an art he seems to have mastered admirably — in  harmonium,   Chatterjee played Peshkar before presenting the Ajrara gharana&’s kaida in three tempos of slow, medium and fast, much appreciated by connoisseurs and lay listeners alike.

Kuchipudi dancer Boby Chakraborty, who has honed her Kuchipidi dance skills from Madhuri Majumder, a disciple of Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam, belongs to Tripura. She is also a guest lecturer at the SD Burman Memorial Government Music College at Agaratala and plays a great role in spreading Kuchipudi dance among young enthusiasts at her school, Rupakalapam. in Agartala. In her performance she included Gajavadana, which described Lord Ganesha&’s manifold qualities. Be it any genre of Indian classical dance, performers are ever eager to the Astapadis of Jayadeva&’s Geeta Govinda.

Chakraborty chose “Sancharadadhara”, in raga Malika and talam adi, where Radha expresses her yearnings for Krishna to her companions. She cannot get away from thinking about Krishna and pines for him in spite of his shortcomings. Emoting how mesmerised she is with the music of his flute, she goes into a trance, showing intense bhakti bhava. An interesting thillana in raga Hindolam rounded off her presentation. Her accompanying artists, G.Aruna (vocalist), A Aditya Bully Brahmam (nattuvanar), A Anand Srihari (mridangam) and Soulapurapu Kumar Babu (flautist) came all the way from Visakapatnam and contributed to the success of her programme.

Pukhrambam Bilas Singh was trained in Manipuri dance at the Jawaharlal Nehru Manipuri Dance Akdemi, Imphal, and is a proficient artist in Lai Haroba. A powerful dancer, he chose to perform Jayadeva&’s Dasavatar. Resplendent in a pink Manipuri costume, with matching turban, he used the refined and elegant Manipuri style while emphasising the martial aspect style while delineating the Narasimha avatar of Krishna, jumps  and  graceful movements marvelously interlaced in his dance. It was a treat to see this young dancer perform. He was supported by vocalist H Indu Devi, pung artist K Jadu Singh, violinist Ramesh Kumar and flautist P Megha Chandra.

Bharatanatyam duo Shijith Nambiar and Parvathy, the husband-wife couple, gave us a taste of a polished dance form presented to the world in its present form by Rukmini Devi Arundale. Together, they invoked Shiva devotees as well as struck sculptural poses of the Lord and his consort, changing expressions from  being bhakta to being Shiva and Parvati. The Astapadi medley was aesthetically represented. The emotive power of  Parvathy Menon as Radha was praiseworthy. Vocalist Sudha Raghuraman established instant rapport with the audience with each line she sang. The group of accompanying artists — G Raghuraman on the flute, Arun Kumar on the mridangam and Sanjit Lal , the nattuvanar — could not have been any better. The dancers ended with a Lalgudi Jayaraman-composed tillana in raga Desh and Adi talam in a cycle of 16 beats rendered with precision.