The five-day-long 64th Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsava kickstarted on Wednesday at New English School, Ramanbaug. The first session began with a tribute to late legendary shehnai player Ustad Bismillah Khan, marking his 100th birth anniversary year. A short video clip was played that gave audience a glimpse into his life and achievements. The session saw performance by Shehnai Chakravarty Pt S Ballesh and his son Surmani Pt Krishnan Ballesh. The duo started with Raga Maru Bihag and ended with Raga Jog, followed by a big round of applause from the audience. In the past, Pt S Ballesh, who trained under Bismillah Khan, had played shehnai for many film composers, including Illayaraja and AR Rahman. Even Krishnan Ballesh started training under Bismillah Khan at the age of 14.
Ballesh duo’s performance was followed by vocalist Gauri Pathare’s rendition who enthralled the audience with her soulful voice in the second session of Sawai Day-1. Her singing style is an amalgamation of Jaipur, Gwalior and Kirana gharana. The performance began with Raga Bheempalasi followed by Raga Shree and Chota Khyal. The performance concluded with a Dadra, ‘Rangi Sari Gulabi Chunariya Re’. She was accompanied by Sudhir Nayak (Harmonium), Ramdas Palsule (Tabla) and Sunita Bhat, Sayuri Mirgol and Kalyani Joglekar (Tanpura).
After Pathare, son and pupil of Imrat Khan and brother of legendary Ustad Vilayat khan, Ustad Irshad Khan of Imdadkhani gharana, gave a melodious performance with two instruments he is known for — Surbahar and Sitar. Later, Pt Ganapati Bhat Hasanagi, a disciple of Pandit Basavaraj Rajguru and late Pandit CR Vyas, mesmerised the audience with his rendition — last performance of Day 1 of Sawai — which reflected his style of music which is influenced by three gharanas – Kirana, Gwalior and Patiala.
The festival witnessed felicitation of Pt Umakant and Ramakant Gundecha being felicitated with the Vatsalatai Bhimsen Joshi Award. Besides, Achyut Palav was felicitated for designing Sawai logo and Satish Paknikar released the calender ‘Swar Rangi Asha’ that marks Asha Bhosale’s contribution to the field of music.