The star-studded finale of 63rd Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav lived up to its expectations as stalwarts like Shubha Mudgal and Suresh Wadkar, who are known for their prowess in both classical and semi-classical genres, enthralled the audience with their performances. The performances were divided in two sessions – morning and evening. The day began early for the audience which was still under the impact of the performances on the third day. But despite the early start, the ground was filled to its capacity as the singer was Shounak Abhisheki, son of legendary singer, late Pandit Jitendra Abhisheki. Known for his mellow voice, Shounak chose raag Dev Gandhar, beginning with Daar Daar Paat Tuhi Samayo, before presenting a bandish, Barjori Nahi Re Kanhai. He entertained the crowd by singing Ghei Chhand Makrand, a song from the recently released movie Katyaar Kaljaat Ghusli, which was originally sung by his father. He was accompanied by tabla player Mangesh Mulye, harmonium player Sudhir Nayak and pakhwaj player Dnyaneshwar Duthade.
Grammy award-winning sarangi player Dhruba Ghosh took centrestage after Abhisheki, beginning in raag Miya ki Todi. Nephew of renowned flautist Pandit Pannalal Ghosh, Dhruba was accompanied by tabla maestro Ramdas Palsule. Dhruba not only played the sarangi, but also recited the raag like an eminent singer, before offering the crowd a jugalbandi between tabla and sarangi. First session of the day ended with the performance of Malini Rajurkar, the top artist of Gwalior gharana, known for her command over tappa genre, which only a few artistes can manage. Accompanied by tabla player Bharat Kamat and harmonium player Dr Arvind Thatte, Rajurkar chose raag Charukeshi for her performance.
The evening session began with the singing of Padma Deshpande, the daughter-in-law of Nanasaheb Deshpande, to whom this year’s Sawai Gandharva Festival was dedicated as it was his birth centenary. Beginning in raag Madhuwanti, Deshpande sung bandish Hoon To Tore karan, and then shifted to a composition titled Jao Jao O Sawariya, which was in raag Shri Basant, which has been discovered by Deshpande. She concluded with a famous composition titled Saawan Ki Rut Aayi Re Sajaniya. After her, All India Radio artiste Bharati Vaishampayan, accompanied by tabla player Kedar Vaishampayan and harmonium player Shriram Hasabnis, presented a composition of Gaud Sarang raag, titled Piyu Palan Laagi Mori Aakhiyan.
It was then the turn of Upendra Bhat, disciple of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, who began with raag Pooriya Dhanashri, singing Joshi’s famous composition, Paar Karo Araj Suno. After presenting a bandish and a thumri, Bhat went on to sing Joshi’s Kannada composition, Soubhagya Laxmi Ravamma. This piece is played in almost all Kannada houses in the evening, said Bhat, who hails from the state himself. He was accompanied on tabla by Prashant Pandav and Niranjan Lele on harmonium. Both Shubha Mudgal and Suresh Wadkar were greeted with a standing ovation by the audience, even before they began to play.
Mudgal, known for her command over Khayal, Thumri, Dadra, and popular Indian pop music, started in raag Shamkalyan Ektaal, accompanied by her husband Aneesh Pradhan on tabla and Sudhir Nayak on harmonium. Her compositions, Bela Saanjh Ki and Ras Ki Pur won applause from the crowd. She was followed by Suresh Wadkar, who was supposed to sing last year, but couldn’t because of the rain stoppage. Wadkar began by saying that he had been practicing for this moment for years and that he felt as nervous as he felt in his teenage while singing in the prestigious festival.
Accompanied by Bharat Kamat on tabla and Suyog Kundalkar on harmonium, Wadkar presented two bandishes, Saras Sugandha and Sundar Divya Rupasi. He concluded with a bhajan, Pandharpuricha Nila. The event went on till 12 in the night and the last two events of the day were a jugalbandi between sitar and sarod by Manju Mehata and Partho Sarthy, while the last performance, as per tradition, was by the oldest Kirana Gharana artiste, Prabha Atre.