Written by Harsh Shukla
On the fourth day of Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav, Omkarnath Havaldar, a young and prominent vocalist of Jaipur and Kirana gharanas, set the mood for a long musical evening that continued till midnight. Havaldar began his performance with two compositions, Gokul gaon ka chhora and Kangan mundariya mori re in Raga Multani belonging to Todi thaat. He also sang a Kannada composition Rama Rama enniro in three different ragas.
He gave a tribute to Pandit Bhimsen Joshi to end his performance as he sang two of his famous Marathi bhajans, Majhe Maher Pandhari and Karuniso Ranga, in two different languages, Kannada and Marathi. He was accompanied by his brothers Kedarnath on the tabla, and Sameer on the harmonium.
Thousands of audience members hung onto each note of the harmonious fusion between sitar, violin and tabla as Shakir Khan, rising exponent of Sitar from Etawah gharana, Tejas Upadhye on violin, and Pandit Vijay Ghate on tabla captivated the audience for more than an hour as they performed various ragas of classical music like Kirwani and Mishra Khamaj. The trio ended their performance with Anar Anar, a famous composition of Pakistani sitar maestro Ustad Rais Khan.
Swami Kripakarananda, vocalist and member of Ramakrishna Mission Seva Pratishtan, in his first performance at Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav, sang a devotional composition Tilak Lalate. He also performed a small bandish Ghor Ghor Garje Barsane Mein Bar Bar. He also sang a Shiva bhajan Dhimmi Dhimmi Damru Baje in Raga Shudhha Kalyan. Swami Kripakarananda ended his performance by singing Abil Gulal Udalit Rang, a Marathi composition of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi.
Reela Hota, eminent Odissi dancer, and Ashwini Bhide Deshpande, one of the leading female vocalists of Jaipur Atrauli gharana, also performed on the fourth day of the festival.
‘Natural sound converted into language that is Sanskrit’
Noted Odissi exponent Reela Hota, in a conversation with famous Kathak dancer Poorva Shah, talked about her diversified productions through a fusion of dance forms, her latest five-part production based on the vedas and how Sanskrit was the “language of healing”. The conversation was part of the ‘Antaranga’ of the 67th Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav on Saturday.
Speaking about her production of Ramleela an Opera, Hota said, “It was a crazy, maddening and yet a fulfilling experience because there were about a 100 artistes of five to six genres. There were dance styles of Odissi, Manipuri and Kathak and we had the theatrical tradition of Yakshagana, Purulia Chhau and Italian opera.”
She also said the production was penned by her mother, yoga guru Bijoylaxmi Hota.
“She wrote the script in such a way that each character was essayed through different dance forms. Like for Sita, it was Odissi dance as her personality is delicate while her friends were portrayed by Manipuri dance. For the vanar sena or the army of the monkeys, we had Purulia Chhau as they have masks and aharyaa in their form. Each dance form retained its originality and purity,” she said.
Her latest production, Veda, also written by Bijoylaxmi Hota, is a five-part dance performance. “It starts with the invocation of the primordial elements and the greater being. Then we show the ashrama system that has been propagated by the vedas. It is then followed by the bramhachari, grihasta and sanyas, which ultimately leads to moksha when one understands the vibrations of being,” she said.
Hota also said music and dance were ways of healing, with the Sanskrit mantras. She said the mantras were derived from the sounds of nature.
“The natural sound has been converted into a language that is Sanskrit,” she said.