A Bhopali becomes A Puneri

Ambika Shaligram
Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Kedar, who is a shishya of Gwalior-Jaipur gharana vocalist Pt Ulhas Kashalkar, also spent five years in Kolkata studying music

Ruchira Kedar’s journey has been high octave, just the way her father envisioned. Born and bred in Bhopal, she moved to Pune at the age of 14, to pursue music seriously. “My father had ambitious plans for me. He was my earliest guru and it was his dream to see me pursue music professionally. So he packed me off to Pune when I was in class IX, against the wishes of my extended family. But he and my mother were firm. That’s how I landed here,” says Kedar, an accomplished Hindustani classical vocalist. 

In Pune, she trained under Dr Alaka Deo Marulkar, who took good care of her, enrolling her in Abhinava Vidyalaya. Kedar reminisces, “I quite enjoyed the independence that came with my relocation. I was happy to make new friends at the hostel. The people were very helpful, unlike the reputation that pure-bred Puneri people have. I couldn’t do my riyaz at the hostel, so I would visit the homes of acquaintances and practised at their place. Except for a couple of nosy questions about my surname, which was Kale, people were non-interfering. The casteism that was inherent in the question about my surname was lost on me. I realised the significance of that question when I went to Bhopal during holidays and told my mother of this exchange. My mother told me, ‘If they ask you this question again, tell them you are a Konkanasth Brahmin’.”

Besides music, Kedar also had to hone her spoken and written Marathi. “Maharshtrians living in Bhopal speak Marathi, which is mostly a literal translation of Hindi. When I came here, I had to study the subject in school and also learnt to speak it well. During holidays, my family would tell me, ‘Ah, now you speak Puneri Marathi’.”

What she missed about Bhopal in Pune was food. “The food culture in Bhopal is awesome. There are several options in street food,” says she.  

Kedar, who is a shishya of Gwalior-Jaipur gharana vocalist Pt Ulhas Kashalkar, also spent five years in Kolkata studying music. “I received a residential scholarship with the prestigious ITC Sangeet Research Academy, and I moved to Kolkata. That was an altogether different experience. Artists are respected and adulated in Bengal. They are fulsome and superlative when showering praise on the artists. They, like Maharashtrians, know their art and anyone wishing to do something in this field, is encouraged,” she adds. 

Now, a permanent resident of Pune, Kedar has completely absorbed the ethos of the city. 

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