Shiva is the source of all movements in the universe. He is the Lord of Dance and therefore Paramesthi or the guru of all gurus. The tradition of passing down the knowledge of dance from this philosophical and spiritual concept to mortal gurus in an unbroken and uninterrupted manner is what the Guru shishya parampara (teacher student tradition) is all about.
Raja Radha Reddy and Kaushalya Reddy’s school of dance, Natya Tarangini has been discerning in more ways than one. Through their Parampara series, they have been striving tirelessly, for more than two decades, to bring home the essence of the concept to dilettantes and connoisseurs of music and dance by showcasing living examples of the very best. The National Festival of Music and Dance, Parampara series 2017 was held recently at the prestigious Kamani Auditorium in New Delhi.
Shivalila dealing with the supernatural activities of Shiva, by the entire Reddy family, spoke loud and clear about the significance of the Guru shishya parampara. This one-of-its-kind festival made a statement with the staging of Shivalila about handing down of the art forms to successive generations.
The second half of the first evening was devoted to the duet rendition of sitar by Purbayan Chatterjee and flute by Rakesh Chaurasia, both talented and young Maihar parampara artists. Purbayan Chatterjee has been especially inspired by Pandit Nikhil Baneree while Rakesh Chaurasia had Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia as his guru. They followed the typical melodic, unmetered improvisations, imbibed from their gurus, to introduce raag Bihag set to a nine-beat rhythm pattern, before going into a slightly raised tempo, which soon lead onto the rhythmic element overtaking the melodic in the most soothing manner possible. At the tabla was Pandit Shubh Maharaj, son of the great Kishan Maharaj. The sombre music of the flautist created a sober atmosphere, which was, more often than not, swept away by the more colourful rendition of the sitarist.
Violinists N Rajam, her daughter Sangeeta Shankar, and granddaughters Ragini and Nandini Shankar representing three generations of violinists chose to play Raag Mia Malhar on that particular monsoon evening. Mia Malhar was chosen to take listeners to aesthetic heights and showcase what the Guru shishya parampara is made of. The understanding between the guru and her shishyas on the one hand and the accompanying tablia Akram Khan on the other was unbelievable. A single nod from the senior was taken up and the raga was developed step by step until it reached its climax. Mia Malhar was personified with great fineness and the swaras were rendered imaginatively. One could almost feel the season with the imaginative use of the gamak as well as the other taans. The jugalbandi between Ragini and Nandini was remarkable. The raga was treated with the finest artistry one could think of. The use of komal ni and shuddha ni, which is the most important flavour of the raga and the use of komal gandhar and re pa combination of the Malhar Ang was beautifully treated. The artistry of the layakari and the taankariwhile maintaining the chalan of the ragaproved that the best was offered to rasikas.
Ustad Rashid Khan of Rampur Sahaswan Gharana is the great grandson of Innayat Khan, the founder of the gharana. His rendition of Megh mallar had the typical emotional overtones for which he is known. It was a late night raga and one could almost visualise the sky filled with clouds. His wide ranging voice — thanks to the strict training of his great-grand uncle Ustad Nissar Hussain Khan — gave his rendition the stamp of his gharana besides adding his own power of expanding the aesthetics of the raga while remaining in its pure form.
Megh is a pentatonic scaled raga which develops into Megh Mallar with the use of komal gandhar megh. Khan’s Purba ang (lower octave) and bol bistar with his soulful voice was accepted by the audience wholeheartedly. A blend of Komal Gandhar with the combination of Pa ni re created magic. His easy flowing akar taan with sapat taan and chut taan along with bol taan was pure bliss. Rashid Khan backed up his first piece with a pahadi thumri, Bey dardi tu ney dard na jaana. He was the only artist who received an encore from the audience. It was then that he sang Yaad piya ki aye which bore the stamp of Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. He was supported on the harmonium by Vinay Mishra.
Murad Ali played the sarangi while Akhram Khan was the percussionist. The Gundecha brothers, Umakant and Ramakant are the torch bearers of the Dagar Gharana. They sang Raga Jog, which is a late night raga. The Dhrupad masters started with a meditative alap using both gandhars and developed its beauty. The different tempos of the alap were very enchanting. The most remarkable part was their laykari with double, triple and quadruple parts with different tihayis. They were supported by Pandit Akhilesh Gundecha on the Pakhawaj and Pandit Rajshekhar Vyas on the Rudra Veena. On the last evening of the three day festival Sangeet Natak Awardee Kathaka Rajasree Sirke with her background in theatre took the audience by storm by narrating Ravana-Mandodari Samved. Her experience of watching the storytellers of Ramayana in Banares stood her in good-stead. In the true fashion of a Kathaka she mixed the technique of Kathak with the art of story-telling, thereby creating a very compelling end result. The presentation was highly entertaining. Rajashree Shirke and her troupe warmed up with Swati Tirunal’s Devi Stuti in praise of the primordial Goddess, enacting each of her qualities with grit and power.The character of Devi Saraswathi and Mahisasiurmardini was aesthetically etched. Change of formations at the wink of an eye, did not leave any room for boredom. This and other nuances of Kathak were performed with great élan.