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Legacy of the state

Over the past century, Karnataka has been a fertile ground for practitioners of Hindustani vocal music.

mumbai Updated: Nov 10, 2012 01:52 IST

Legacy of the state
Over the past century, Karnataka has been a fertile ground for practitioners of Hindustani vocal music. After the pioneering work done by Sawai Gandharva, the region has produced renowned singers such as Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Mallikarjun Mansur and Gangubai Hangal. The subsequent generation comprised vocalists such as Pandit Venkatesh Kumar, Pandit Kaivalya Kumar and Ganapati Bhat.

Now, from the third generation, it is Jayateerth Mevundi, 39, who is already gaining recognition as a performer. Mevundi, originally from Hubli, comes from a family of non-musicians.

“I had to work really hard to develop myself as a singer," says Mevundi, adding that his mother, Sudhabai, who used to hum devotional songs, inspired him to learn music. He was groomed by the late Arjunsa Nakod, a well-known classical singer who combined the Gwalior and Kirana gharanas of khyal music, for more than a decade. After Nakod passed away, Mevundi trained further under the late Shripati Padigar, a pupil of Bhimsen Joshi.

He first achieved recognition after he won a competition in Pune in 1995. The report of his impressive performance reached the ears of Bhimsen Joshi, who invited him to sing at the prestigious Sawai Gandharva Utsav that year. "I still have with me the original telegram sent by Bhimsenji," he says, proudly. He has modelled his vocal style on Joshi and comes closest to his idol when he delivers those trademark fast, energetic tonal patterns. For Mevundi, music is a never-ending learning process. "The old masters have set very high benchmarks which keep luring us," he says. “I will always be a student of music.”

— Amarendra Dhaneshwar

The gigs

Playing a new tun
The late Jennifer Kapoor, founder of Prithvi Theatre, was an ardent fan of tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain and wanted him to perform there. Unfortunately, the dates never matched and the Ustad finally performed there only in 1985, a few months after her death, as a tribute to Kapoor.

Ever since, however, he has curated the annual Prithvi Memorial Concert, turning that event into a much-awaited evening of great music.

Taking this concept further, Prithvi has now opened its doors to music as part of its theatre festival, hosting weekly, not-to-be-missed Acoustic Sunday Jam sessions this year, featuring live music performances without any amplification.

This Sunday, percussionist Taufiq Qureshi will present Surya, an amalgamation of various music genres including jazz, folk, beatbox and Hindustani classical music. Playing the djembe and bongos, he will be accompanied by jazz guitarist Sanjay Divecha.

“The acoustics at Prithvi are just perfect for music,” says Qureshi, 57. “I am very excited about this performance.”

Added Prithvi director Kunal Kapoor: “Given the intimacy that Prithvi offers, the space lends itself perfectly to a baithak or one-on-one musical interlude.’’

Sunday’s session will also feature Sarang Kulkarni on the sarod; Kathak dancer Geetika Varde performing to soulful renderings by Sonia Parchure; and beatbox boys jamming with folk singers from Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Punjab.

On next week’s programme are Niladri Kumar on the sitar, Louis Banks on the piano, Gino Banks on the drums and Aditya Kalyanpur on the tabla.

You can look forward to the jam sessions becoming a monthly affair, adds Kunal — a Sunday morning of music every month.

— Draupadi Rohera

The exhibition

Ramayana, revisited
There is much more to the key women characters in the Ramayana than most readers know, caught as they were in their own power struggles and in the epic battles between their kings.

Through a series of 15 photo and video works currently on display at the Chemould art gallery, artist Pushpamala N, 56, paints pictures of these women as she imagines them during pivotal moments in the epic.

One such moment is portrayed in a larger-than-life, sepia-tone photograph titled Intrigue - The Anguish.

Here, Ram’s stepmother, Kaikeyi, reclines on a couch in an opulent room, staring angrily into the distance, as her hunchbacked wet nurse and mother figure Manthara sits on the floor and whispers to her.

In the epic, this would be the moment when Manthara finally convinces Kaikeyi that her son, Bharat, should succeed king Dasratha rather than Rama, the son from the king’s first wife.

The costumes and sets of Pushpamala’s work are derived from 20th century Parsi and Marathi theatre styles. While the foreground is a photograph, the background is painted by Pushpamala; it depicts heavy drapes that seem windswept, suggesting that a storm is brewing.

As in most of her works, both characters are played by the artist. “I perform in my tableaux myself, as that makes me more culpable,” says Pushpamala. “I have picked these women and these moments because their characters, their passion and intensity, fascinate me.”

— Riddhi Doshi

Listings | also check out

Exhibition of Kalamkari paintings, a style of hand-painting on cotton textiles originating in Srikalahasti, Andhra Pradesh. The works on display are by master artist Jonnalagadda Chetty.

When: Began on Thursday, goes on till December 7, 11 am to 7 pm, Sundays closed
Where: Jamaat Art Gallery, Ground Floor, National House, Tulloch Road, opp Bade Miyan, Colaba
CALL: 2282-2145

Feed and Func with DJ Uri, an electronic music performance featuring sub-genres such as breakbeat and glitch-hop. This set will be preceded by a culinary session conducted by DJ Uri himself.

When: Saturday (November 10), 9 pm
Where: Bonobo, Kenilworth, Phase 2, Second Floor, Bandra (West)
CALL: 2605-5050 / 2605-5353

Metal Night, an evening of performances by local metal bands, featuring popular thrash/groove metal act Zygnema (above) and newcomers Orion and Wired Anxiety.

When: Sunday (November 11), 9 pm onwards
Where: Blue Frog, Mathuradas Mills Compound, Senapati Bapat Road,
Lower Parel
CALL: 6158-6158
ENTRY fee: Rs. 250