The morning of final Sunday of Sawai every year is special and I have been looking forward to it. In the exhaustive overload of classical music, connoisseurs ensure that they dont miss the morning session of Sawai , which always proves to be unique. From few years back (2013),the memories of Bhairavi badaa khyaal of Pt Ajay Chakravarty are still fresh ! This year the Sawai morning concert was no different ; it would be remembered for the Sarangi maestro Pt Dhrub Ghosh !
The Sunday morning 8am and the Ramanbag ground is already over-pouring with audience for the “full spread of classical breakfast”. The session opened with Shounak Abhisheki rendering Shivmat Bhairav vilambit “Dar Dar tuhi samaaye” (दर दर तुही समाये ) followed by madhyalay bandish “Aaj maujood vahi” ( आज मौजूद वही ). Accompanied on Tabla by Mangesh Mulye and on Harmonium by Sudheer Nayak, he continued with a Dev-Gandhaar bandish “Barjori na karo re ye kanhaai” ( बरजोरी ना करो रे ये कन्हाई ). This was followed by Jaunpuri bandish “Chedo naa kaase” ( छेडो ना कासे ) and a special bandish of Pt Haldankar “Mai to brij ki naar anaadi” ( मै तो ब्रिज की नार अनाडी ). A famous natyageet of his father Pt Jitendra Abhisheki “Ghei Chanda makarand” ( घेई छंद मकरंद ) from “Katyaar Kaljaat Ghusli” (कट्यार काळजात घुसली ) got a huge applause. He concluded his presentation with a famous Tukaram abhang “Aadhi rachili Pandhari” (आधी रचिली पंढरी )
The featured performance of the morning was of Pt Dhrub Ghosh on sarangi with an able accompaniment of Pt Ramdas Palsule on Tabla. He started with Raag Miyan ki Todi with a bandish of Bundu Khan of Delhi Gharana ,in a gayaki style expansion, also vocalizing it to the applause of audience.. “Kankariya naa maaro” ( कंकरिया ना मारो ). The Tabla saath of Pt Ramdas Palsule was amazing. The maestro continued with Raag Jogiya with a thumri of Ut Abdul Karim Khan “Piya ke milan ki aas” ( पिया के मिलन की आस ) . The audience had received a full overloaded breakfast of soul stirring music with emotions of separation,pathos, longing and the ambiance of peaceful tranquility of morning. The audience gave a standing ovation to the performance and wished that this sarangi recital could go on and on !
Malinitai Rajurkar took on the stage by 11.15am accompanied on Harmonium by Dr Arwind Thatte and on Tabla by Bharat Kamat. She is a one regular performer at Sawai for years now, but this was her first performance in the morning session. She started with Raag Chaarukeshi bandish “Baalam pardes gayo” ( बालम परदेस गयो ) followed by maaro man dor ( मारो मन ड़ोर ). This was followed by Gaud Sarang bandish “Chedo na neend mori” ( छेड़ो ना नींद मोरी ). The Bhairavi bandish “Pan ghat pe jal bharan mai kaise jaau” ( पनघट पे जल भरन मै कैसे जाऊ ) concluded her presentation that was full of her characteristic ornaments of murki and boltaans. The audience request of her “trademark” tappa was politely denied by Malinitai as she thought that noon is not the right time for this form of music.
While the audience had a break for 2.5 hours for the next and final session of 63rd Sawai , I could ride back home for a grub and shower to get ready for final marathon session starting at 3pm till midnight.
The evening session opened with Smt Padma Deshpande (grand- niece of Sawai Gandharva) Multani bandish in vilambit “Hu to tore karan” ( हो तो तोरे कारन ) followed by tarana. She then presented a new raag Shree-Vasant that was dedicated to Shri Vasant Deshpande (her father in law) , with a composition “Van Van khelat shyaam chabilaa” ( वन वन खेलत श्याम छबीला ) . She concluded her presentation with a thumri “Savan ki rutu aai re sajaniyaa” ( सावन की ऋतू आई रे सजनिया )
Senior Jaipur-Atrouli stalwart Smt Bharati Vaishampayan , who has been trained under many well known veterans, took to stage by 4.30pm with a Gaud Sarang bandish “Piyu palan laagi mori akhiyaa” ( पियु पलन लागी मोरी अखियाँ ) followed by a tarana. The next raag was Maalavi of Poorvi thaat with a bandish of Pt Nivruttibuwa Sarnaik “Aayo Mahagunvaan” (आयो महागुनवान). Her natya sangit pad “Ravi mi Chandra kasaa” (रवि मी चन्द्र कसा ) was applauded by audience. She concluded with a Mishra kafi dadra “Saiyaa gaye pardes”( सैयाँ गए पारदेस )
Upendra Bhat ,disciple of Pt Bhimsen Joshi, took the stage over by 6pm and spent more time in talking than singing. He tried Pooriya Dhanaashree with the bandish “Paar karo araja sunori” ( पार करो अरज सुनोरी ) and “Payaliya Zankar” ( पायलिया झंकार ) followed by a tarana composed by Pt Bhimsen Joshi. This was followed by Kalashree bandish “Dhan Dhan baag suhag tero” ( धन धन भाग सुहाग ) , a thumri “Shyam na abtak aaye” ( श्याम ना अबतक आये ) and a kannada bhajan popularized by Pt Bhimsen Joshi “Saubhagyada Laxmi Baramma”( सौभाग्यदा लक्ष्मी बारम्मा ). The best part of the presentation was the accompanying sarangi played by Sabir Khan (Son of Ut Sultan Khan) and Tabla by Prashant Pandav.
Shubha Mudgal took the stage by 7pm with an expansive Shyam Kalyan vilambit “Aaisele subhana biti” ( ऐसेले सुभना बीती ) and drut bandish of her guruji Raamaashray Jha ‘Raamarang’, “Bela saanjh ki” ( बेला सांझ की ). She concluded with a thumri ki bandish “Are maharaajaa aa maharaajaa” ( अरे महाराजा आ महाराजा ) that received thunderous applause from the over – over -over houseful crowd that was waiting for Suresh Wadkar, the featured artist of the evening !
Suresh Wadkar accompanied by Suyog Kundalkar on Harmonium and Bharat Kamat on Tabla started with Yaman vilambit “Are aayi” (आरे आई) and drut “Saras Sugandhaa” ( सरस सुगंधा ) followed by thumri “laage tose nain” ( लागे तोसे नैन ) and two marathi bhajans in praise of vitthal. This was a good time to listen to pakwaaj and manjiri by Mauli Takalkar !
To say the least about the performance of Suresh Wadkar is that he was most disappointing artist of Sawai. Not for bad singing but for not understanding the kind of audience he was singing for. There was less of classical performance and more of gazal-filmi ang gayaki in the presentation. There was no “vistaar” , “badhats” in the singing that was repetitive in spite being a “huge sea of Yaman”. He demonstrated how simply classical training does not make one classical performer !
Fortunately, one of the best concerts of the festival was to follow. Vid Manju Mehta on Sitar , Partha Sarathy on Sarod and Pt Ramdas Palsule on Tabla were truly a blessing to ears of connoisseurs. They started by 10pm with Charu-Kauns ( a raag created by Pt Ravi Shankar) with aalaap , jod – jhala , a jugalbandi , a trigalbandi that mesmerized the weekend common audience and connoisseurs alike. They concluded their hour long presentation with a drut gat and composition.
The highlight, I must say was Pt Ramdas Palsule who has bloomed to one of the best younger Tabla maestros !
The traditional conclusion of Festival was by Kirana veteran ,Dr Prabha Atre singing with her disciples. This year she changed from her routine Charukeshi and Maru-bihag to Champakali. The final Bhairavi was “Jamuna ke Teer” ( जमुना के तीर ). The connoisseurs had already started departing after the exceptional concert of Vid Manju Mehta, the rest departed at midnight with a promise to meet again next year in second week of December .. same place .. Ramanbag, Pune !
Here are the “Sawai Fan” awards of 63rd Sawai Festival:
1) Best day of the Festival : Day 2 , Dec 11 , 2015
( Suchismita Das – Vocal , Amjad Ali – Vocal , Niladri Kumar-Sitar )
2) Best session of the Festival : Sunday morning , Dec 13th , 2015
3) The Most promising artist(s) of Festival : Suchismita Das , Amjad Ali, Bharati Pratap
4) The Artist(s) of the Festival : Pt Dhruba Ghosh-Sarangi , Vid Manju Mehta (Sitar) and accompanist for both Pt Ramdas Palsule (Tabla)
5) The unique concert(s) of the Festival : Niladri Kumar with Vijay Ghate and Pravin Godkhindi with Ojas Adhiya
6) Most Disappointing / boring performance : Suresh Wadkar , Upendra Bhat , Raghunandan Panshikar
7) Most traditional, sincere,heartful performance(s): Pt Vishwanath , Smt Bharati Vaishampayan.
Post Script : Here are the reasons why Sawai Fans could have felt Raghunandan Panshikar boring and disappointing:
1) His choice of expansive extended Bhoop at 4.30pm
2) Following up after the brilliant Bhimpalas of Bharati Pratap and before the bright young duo of Pravin Godkhindi , Ojas Adhiya
3) People from Pune have heard his sahela re and Padmanabha narayana in every concert that he performs !
4) He should have chosen (kaal-anurup) Jaipur-Atrauli raag like Lalita Gauri and /or Shuddha Kalyan in his allotted time with sahela re as follow up.