Two more missing gems emerge Sumana Ramanan

Sharad Jambhekar, 80, and Sukhada Kane, 57, ought to be singing widely on Mumbai’s classical music stages.

Over the past three-and-a-quarter years, since I started writing this column in September 2015, I have been discovering one one amazing vocalist after the other whom I have never heard before on Mumbai’s concert stages. I am a music lover — especially of the vocal genre — who has been regularly atteneding concerts all around the city since I was 16 years old, so in sane system I would have heard all of them several times by now. 

           The music of these missing gems, as I call them, is several notches higher than that of the vast majority of those being promoted by the big organisers; only a handful are in the same league. These gems have all undergone long years of of taleem in the guru-shishya parampara style from gurus who themselves learnt from great masters.

         The musical ideologies and designs of their gurus’ gharanas are, therefore, clearly visible in their music. Most of them have beautifully integrated several gharanas — a delicate process that requires long years of training if the end result is not to sound like a flimsy patchwork. They have vast repertoires of ragas and compositions. Crucially, they are also exciting performers who can impress he lay listener and connoisseur alike. 

       Skilled organisers can easily communicate all this to first draw listeners in; organisers’ excuse that these singers’ music is inaccessible to all but a few is a myth. Once audiences come in, they are bound to be impressed by the music’s integrity and high quality. I have seen this happen time and again.

        My latest discoveries are Sharad Jambhekar, 80, who trained under the Gwalior gharana’s Narayanrao Vyas for a decade and from D V Paluskar before a long stint of more about four  decades under the Agra-Gwalior gharana stalwart, Kanebua; and from the younger generation, Sukhada Kane, 57, Kanebua’s daughter-in-law who was a student of the Jaipur gharana’s Limayebua and Kamal Tamble.

A native of Ichalkaranji, near Kolhapur town, Kanebua first learnt from the Gwalior gharana’s Mirashibua and and Vinayakrao Patwardhan, before becoming a ganda-bandh shagird of the great Agra gharana maestro Vilayat Hussain Khan. Limayebua, who lived in Kolhapur, learnt from Govindrao Shaligram, who had trained under Alladiya Khan, founder of the Jaipur gharana. Kamal Tambe learnt for many years from Mogubai Kurdikar, a doyenne of the Jaipur Gharana and Kishori Amonkar’s mothers. 

        I first heard Jambhekarji at a public concert in Mulund organised by music lover Mukund Athavale. I then heard him at a private concert, at the home of another music lover, Vikas Karmalkar I again heard him in Ichalkaranji, at a public mehfil attended by about 200 people, in the estimation of Harshad Kamble , the organiser who is a native of the town and my guru bandhu: we are both fortunate to be learning from the eminent Agra-Gwalior gharana khayal singer Arun Kashalkar, 76, who also sang that day.

        Kamble had arranged a two-day trip for about two dozen of his fellow students to this musically historic town: it was Balakrishnabua Ichalkaranjikar (1849-1926) who travelled to Gwalior, the birthplace of khayal, and returned to Maharashtra to spread the music, making the state the hub for vocal music Bengal became the epicentre for instrumental music, especially string instruments.

          Finally, I heard Jambhekar for a fourth time in Kolhapur, where we spent a day before returning to Mumbai. Among his many wonderful renditions in these four mehfils were ones of Shree, Paraj and Kalavati. In Kolhapur, Sukhada Kane also Shree, Paraj and Kalavati. In Kolhapur, Sukhada Kane also sang, opening the baithak with an impressive rendition of of raag Gauri. 

“Jambhekarbua’s music has almost all the characteristics of the Agra gharana, such as a beat-to-beat relation of laya and sur; the use of the nom-tom aalaap; and extensive rhythmic improvisation using the bandish ke bol, or lyrics of the composition,” said Arun Kashalkar. “I like his music very much. Sukhada Kane’s music also clearly shows designs of the Agra and Jaipur gharanas. Her Gauri was good.”
        Jambhekar took up a job with AIR at the age of 25 and also became very busy with performing in Marathi sangeet nataks, giving natya sangeet performances and singing for kathak recitals, he said in an interview after the Kolhapur mehfil. All the while he kept up his classical music riyaaz. After retiring from AIR in his early 50s, he began to travel to to Ichalkaranji more often. 

      He took an early liking to the rhythmheavy Agra gharana. Give his busy schedule, he focused on attending concerts of the Agra greats: Vilayat Hussain Khan, Khadim Hussain Khan, Anwar Hussain Khan and Latafat Hussain Khan.

          “No one asked me about my classical music all these years,” Jambhekar said. “Only over the past few months at this at this late age have I begun to sing khayal, thanks to Vikas Karmalkar and Arun Kashalkar. It is a pity.” 

            Among the older generation, the other missing masters include — the list is by no means exhaustive — Narayan Bodas (Gwalior with some Agra), Arun Kashalkar (Agra-Gwalior with elements of Jaipur), Babanrao Haldankar (Agra with some Jaipur), Jayashree Patnekar (Gwalior with Jaipur), Sharad Sathe (hardcore Gwalior) — all from Maharashtra. From Bengal are Amiya Ranjan Banerjee (Bishnupur), Arun Bhaduri (Rampur-Sahaswan) and Poornima Sen (Agra).


                               The views expressed here are the author’s own. The opinions and facts expressed here do not reflect the views of Mirror and Mirror does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.


Playing til your fingers hurt

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“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.”