Written by Sameer Manekar
Beginning with the auspicious sound of the shehnai of third-generation player Kalyan Apar, and ending with the melodious voice of legendary vocalist Begum Parveen Sultana, the first day of the 66th Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav left Pune residents s mesmerised, with the magical swaras, bandishes, and ragas of veteran and young
Hosted at a new venue after 31 years — Maharashtriya Mandal Krida Sankul in Mukund Nagar — the festival was ‘inaugurated’ by Apar’s melodious tunes. An All India Radio (AIR) artiste and a visharad (master) in shehnai, Apar, returning to the stage after 2005, began with raga Gavati, and performed a rendition of legendary vocalist late Pandit Bhimsen Joshi’s version of Sant Eknath’s bhajan, Maze Maher Pandhari.
After Apar, Ravindra Parchure, son of vocalist late Shripad Parchure and the youngest artist of the day, began with raga Bhimpalasi, developing slowly with the alaap. Belonging to the Gwalior gharana of legendary musicians like Miyan Tansen and Vishnu Digambar Paluskar, Parchure learned the gharana’s finer nuances from late vocalist Manohar Bhagwat, as well as that of Gwalior-Agra gharana from renowned vocalist Pandit Arun Kashalkar. Presenting Kashalkar’s composition, Chhand de mohe, in front of him, Parchure recieved applause from the audience for his performance.
Performing months after the demise of his mentor Annapurna Devi, sarod maestro Pandit Basant Kabra enchanted the audience with his performance of raga Puriya Dhanashri. Emphasising on the melody, which was reminiscent of his guru’s approach, Kabra dedicated his performance to the late Guruma.
Prasad Khaparde started with raga Kedar and impressed the audience with his energetic gayaki. The senior disciple of Ustad Rashid Khan of Rampur-Sahaswan Gharana and an AIR artist, Khaparde has earlier collaborated with Spanish and Turkish musicians as well as with Rajasthani Manganiars to create various Indian classical fusion compositions. Performing in the festival after a decade and accompanied on tabla by Pandit Ramdas Palsule, Khaparde concluded with a bhajan dedicated to Ram, ‘Ram, Ram, Ram bhajo, Ram bhajo bhai.”
The best of the day was, indeed, saved for the last, when renowned vocalist Begum Parveen Sultana of the Patiala gharana left the audience mesmerised, eliciting ‘waah’ with her very first note. Returning to the festival stage after five years, and remembering her brother-like figure late Pandit Joshi with teary eyes, Sultana began with raga Jog. Known widely for her song, Humein Tumse Pyaar Kitna in the 1981 film, Kudrat, she was the youngest artiste to win the Padma Shri at the age of 25.
The festival, which will go on till December 16, promises many more such treats for the music lovers of Pune.