Written by Jayali Wavhal
A day after Pune residents were left mesmerized by the magical swaras, bandishes, and ragas of veteran and young artistes on the first day of the 66th Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav, tabla maestro Suresh Talwalkar interacted with music lovers and spoke about his contribution to Indian classical music, his teaching style and his years as a student of tabla.
“Only a tabla player gets to work with all other musicians at any given point because it is a dynamic and the most progressive instrument,” said Talwalkar during the ‘Antarang’ event, held at the Sawai Gandharva Smarak on the second day of the Mahotsav on Thursday.
After being introduced to tabla by his father, Suresh Talwalkar, 70, trained under Padharinath Nageshkar and Vinayakrao Ghangrekar. “I was never asked to play the tabla during the nine years of my training, a decision I disliked. But in retrospect, it taught me other key things — identifying ragas, gharanas, artists, and adopting unique styles of the musicians,” said Talwalkar, who is also trained in Hindustani classical music.
He also studied Carnatic music and the science of rhythm under Ramnad Ishwaran. According to Talwalkar, Carnatic music taught him the “simplest of things in tabla on a large scale”, thus enabling him to fuse the northern and southern music styles and become a solo performer with a unique expression. “Instruments have been modified in recent times to express music better, but tabla has remained the same. Yet, I have contributed to Hindustani music by changing the language of tabla according to Carnatic music. This has enabled the tabla to complement other instruments,” he said.
Speaking about his teaching style, Talwalkar said most teachers don’t take the extra effort to teach their students extraordinary techniques, something which he does often. “Teachers let their students believe that an extraordinary technique can only be achieved through natural talent. I completely disagree — if a teacher is knowledgeable, knows how to teach and is willing to teach, any ordinary student can learn any extraordinary style,”
Talwalkar also praised the Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav, stating that the event is arranged in a way where neither the performing artist nor the audience sits in the dark; this establishes a genuine traditional connection between the two, something which, he said, is not often seen at other events.
Hosted at a new venue after 31 years — Maharashtriya Mandal Krida Sankul in Mukund Nagar — the festival will go on till December 16.