Traditional treat

Ambika Shaligram
Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Dr Chaitanya Kunte, convenor of Sudarshan Sangeet Mahotsav, gives us details of the three day festival that starts on Friday

Keeping in line with the definition of traditional Indian classical music which comprises singing, instrumental music and dance, this year’s Sudarshan Sangeet Mahotsav, a Maharashtra Cultural Centre’s initiative, is a perfect blend of the three elements. 

The three day festival, which starts from Friday, will present a dance drama or Yakshagana performance, a dance ballet Parijat and a Hindustani khayal gayaki rendition by octogenarian Pt Sharad Sathe.

Giving us the details of the sangeet mahotsav, its convenor, 
Dr Chaitanya Kunte, says, “The inaugural performance is Yakshagana, an ancient dance-drama format. It will be presented by Sri Idagunji Mahaganapati Yakshagan Mandali, from Keremane village, Karnataka. The troupe is being led by Keremane Shivanand Hegde, whose grandfather Shivram Hegde established it 83 years ago. Usually, yakshagana performances are based on Ramayan and Mahabharat, so they will be presenting Sita Apaharan act in the mahotsav.”

The troupe comprises 15 artists, of which six are musicians, and the rest are actors/singers. It’s an age old tradition in which male artists play female roles. And, so they take about three hours to do their costume and makeup before the show. The yakshagana performances are night-long, open air performances held in temple courtyards. The troupes don’t use props either and convey the story through music and emoting.

“On the second day of the festival, the gender balance will be reversed, so to say. Parijat, a ballet on Marathi littérateur Ga Di Madgulkar’s musical has been choreographed by Bharatanatyam dancer, Sandhya Dharm, while I have edited the music part. The female dancers will be enacting the male roles,” he adds. 

Parijat is a story found in Bhagwat Purana. It’s about the tussle between Krishna’s wives Satyabhama and Rukmini over the plant. “Krishna brings Parijat vriksha (sapling) from heavens. And, his wives covet it and thus there’s a lot of insecurity between them. Narada (enacted by Dharm) plays a big role in this musical. So his pada (verses) are in kirtan form, while Krishna, Satyabhama and Rukmini’s are in ragdari.

The ballet will be different from the usual music-dance presentations, because Bharatanatyam dance pieces are performed to Carnatic classical music. “In this ballet, we have incorporated Hindustani classical music and kirtan format (devotional poetry) too. Usually, a sangeetika (musical) unfolds through singing and some parts of prose. But here we are attempting to unfold it through dance,” adds Kunte.

Just like yakshagana is a traditional art form rooted in Karnataka, a sangeetika is unique to Maharashtra. “At one point, many sangeetikas or musicals were written in Maharashtra, in which noted actor-singer Govindrao Tembe performed. Ba Si Mardhekar, another Marathi poet, has also written quite a few musicals. However, in the last seven decades, not many musicals have been written,” he points out. 

On the last day of the festival, Pt Sharad Sathe from Gwalior gharana will be presenting bandish composed by him and his guru, Sharacchandra Arolkar. “One recurring theme in Sudarshan Sangeet Mahotsav is to present one musician’s bandishi in traditional format. So we requested Satheji to present some of the bandish composed by his guru, Arolkarji,” adds Kunte. 

ST Reader Service 
Maharashtra Cultural Centre’s Sudarshan Sangeet Mahotsav will be held from February 16-18 at Jyotsna Bhole Sabhagruha, Tilak Road. The yakshgana performance will be held on February 16, 6.30 pm onwards. Musical ballet, Parijat, will be presented on February 17, 6.30 pm onwards. 

Pt Sharad Sathe’s Hindustani gayaki rendition will begin at 9.30 am on February 18. Entry is free 

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