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Legacy carried forward

Effectively carrying forward the legacy of his grandfather Vasantrao Deshpande,Rahul Deshpande is unarguably the true representative of the next generation of Indian classical singers.

Written by Pranav Kulkarni | January 8, 2009 1:14:29 am

Music is an exploration of expressions with raga as the medium,says Rahul Deshpande,whose first national album will be released during Vasantotsav

Effectively carrying forward the legacy of his grandfather Vasantrao Deshpande,Rahul Deshpande is unarguably the true representative of the next generation of Indian classical singers. In the backdrop of the release of his first national album — Introducing Rahul Deshpande — the vocalist spoke about the album,Vasantrao Deshpande,Indian classical music and much more.

“This album is a long awaited dream as it is a tribute to my late grandfather,the musical doyen- Vasantrao Deshpande. This is my first national album and it includes ragas such as Marwa,Rajkalyan,Paraj and a Bhajan by Sant Kabir,” says Deshpande,who is currently busy giving final touch to Vasantotsav,a festival in the memory of his grandfather,now in its second year. The added feature of Vasantotsav this year is the fact that an album based on Vasantrao Deshpande’s songs will be released on the first day of the festival. “The credit of making my musical journey a successful and satisfying one,goes to my granfather,Vasantrao Deshpande. Be it tabla or vocal music,I was given a special treatment,” says Deshpande.

“My grandfather passed away when I was three-and-a-half years old. I started learning music at the age of six from Pandit Gangadharbuva Pimpalkhare,followed by Ushatai Chipalkatti and Mukul Shivputra — the son of Pandit Kumar Gandharva. But major contributors to my learning process have been by Vasantrao Deshpande and Kumar Gandharva,” adds he.

Having been following Vasantrao Deshpande’s music for eight to 10 years,Rahul Deshpande gives the credit of his musical expertise to his gurus,as he says,”In case of any musical performance,especially raagdari,it is the lyrics that follow the sur. What unveils through the sur is the expression of the performer. And this expression is 100 per cent personal. It was my guru who taught me how to express the emotions through the sur without leaving the boundaries of the ragaa.”

With his earlier training in Gwalior gharana,Deshpande firmly believes that while the gharana tradition of learning Hindustani classical music is important,it is equally important to be open to accepting the changes in the world of music. “Gharanas should not stop one from learning new ragaas,bandish and techniques. There was a time when the guru-shishya parampara,that firmly believed in oral scripting,would not allow the disciples to learn from other gurus,but with globalisation,the barriers have collapsed. So just as the learning continues from various musicians,the basic sanskar of the guru never gets erased,” says he.

It is the same philosophy that allows Deshpande to generalise music as world music. “Audiences have preconceived notions about music,like for instance,some like only Indian classical,some enjoy jazz,others prefer rock and so on. In Vasantotsav this year,we have invited musicians from across the globe so as to expose music lovers to renditions from varied genres,” adds Deshpande.

After having won the audiences’ applause at Sawai Gandharva Sangeet Mahotsav last year,Deshpande will also be presenting his compositions on the first day of Vasantorsav. Deshpande also feels that being Vasantrao’s successor is a great responsibility,as he says,”I understand that when people come to listen to my performances,they want to listen to me as well as renditions by my grandfather,so all I do is tell them to give me half an hour for myself and later present what the audiences want. The process of discovering myself as well as my grandfather is still on,and every performance,every new ragini learnt takes me closer to that exploration.”

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