News & Notes

Parampara Festival - Hampi Vaibhavam (Part II)


As in the earlier editions, the 27th Parampara Festival organised by guru Raja Radha Reddy’s Natya Tarangini opened with a bang. Established in 1976, Natya Tarangini has done sterling work in promoting the dances of the South in Delhi, and of giving a platform to deserving artists. A disciple of several gurus, Shubha Mudgal has created a distinctive style much her own, recognisable by her distinctive rich and robust voice.

In her concert at Parampara, she demonstrated her ability to weed out the unnecessary and present only the core in her music most effectively and aesthetically; she had only an hour to sing. She started with raga Shuddha Kalyan, etching it out beautifully, yet concisely. The choice of both compositions was careful too – unusual, and rarely heard, in taals Tilwada and Teentaal. Shubha’s sense of drama in music was apparent in the second bandish, where her bol baant was most appealing. The next raga was Desh, the compositions chosen, she said, were to appeal to an audience which included dance students. Both the compositions were by her guru Ramashreya Jha, Ram Rang, with beautifully evocative lyrics of Krishna’s endearing leelas, including the Kaaliya Dahan. The first was set to Roopak tala, the second in Teental. At the insistence of the audience, Shubha concluded with a thumri in raga Tilang; Neend na aave.


As always her rendering was masterly and moving. Her guru in thumri was the renowned Naina Devi. While singing the word ‘tarpat’ Shubha actually conveyed the meaning of the word, of physical suffering with differently executed voice quivers, and gamakas. She was accompanied by two masters - Aneesh Pradhan on tabla and Sudhir Nayak on harmonium. Her disciples, Puja and Shivangani gave vocal support. The next evening opened with a beautifully choreographed presentation by Santosh Nair. This was followed by a vocal recital by the brother duo of Fareed Hassan and Mehboob Hussain of the

Dilli gharana. Sons of the vocalist Nizammudin Niyazi, who is well known for his bhajan and shabad singing; the brothers are grandsons of Nasir Ahmed Khan and Mohammed Ahmed Banney, the sarangi exponent. Revealing their extensive taleem (training) the brothers sang a leisurely raga Yaman Kalyan, starting with a slow composition in Ektal. Unfolding the raga note-by-note in ascending order, their rounded meends created a soothing ambience. They moved onto a rare composition in Teental by Kale Khan, Saras piya. In this, the distinguishing shudha madhyam of Yaman Kalyan was pleasingly visible.

Both their sargam and aakar taans captivated. The concluding piece in the Garaj garaj in raga Megh Malhar, Ektal was a fast drut tarana composed by the founder of the Rampur Sahaswan gharana Bahadur Khan Seni. It was an unusual rendering, off the beat at ‘sam’ as taught by their guru Iqbal Ahmed Khan. Fareed’s voice dexterity impressed; touching the pancham in the taar saptak with a graceful ease. Concluding with a rousing bhajan of Tulsidas, Jinke hrideye Hari naam base set to raga mishra Piloo by their father, the brothers showcased this unusual aspect of their musical taleem. They were most ably accompanied on the tabla by Dilli gharana’s Akbar Latif Khan, Ehsan Ali on the sarangi and Ashiq Ali on the harmonium.


The concluding day witnessed Bickram Ghosh and his award winning band Rhythmscape. In his avatar as a fusion music artist, the legacy of the North Indian classical tradition dominated. He perhaps made fleeting concessions for the fusion tag by including the keyboards, drums and an electric sitar, but the dominant sound was Indian classical.

The first piece was based on raga Jog, the Dance of Siva. The vocal rendition of Nagendra Haaram set the tone; the song concluded with an exciting interchange between Bickram and Arun Kumar. The

second number too was racy and fast paced, entitled Little Krishna, based on raga Kalavati and Kalasri. One would have wanted a softer, gentler feel in this, perhaps. The third song was a recent composition, an ode to Ma Durga in raga Durga. Here, the musical interaction was between the tabla and sitar. Bickram’s popular chest thumping, and cheek patting laya work was, as always, thrilling; the konnokol-bol talk between him and Arun Kumar was hugely enjoyable. Showing a flash of his expertise of ‘laya’ Bickram and Arun demonstrated a five-beat rhythm while demonstrating the sound of a train. One wished he had expanded this further. Next was a piece composed on the sitar by maestro Ravi Shankar for his iconic fundraising concert for Bangladesh in 1971; this brought back hugely nostalgic memories of the maestro; someone under whom Bickram trained and accompanied for some 800 concerts! The concluding item was in raga Banjara composed by maestro Ravi Shankar. In this piece, the over amplification of the keyboards and simultaneous singing resulted in a cacophony of sound which could have been avoided. Apart from the excellent artists, key components of the Parampara festival were the interactive participatory audience and excellent decorations.

Festival curator, Kaushalya Reddy, is to be lauded for sustaining this annual wonderful festival, eagerly awaited by Delhi’s audiences.