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A Vibrant Tradition

Tuesday, December 05, 2017
By Amarendra Dhaneshwar

Marathi Natyageet is a unique and the most classical form of music. Stage music in Maharashtra has prospered over the last one and a half century. It originated in the late 19th century when it borrowed heavily from  regional folk forms like the Lavani, the Ovi or the Dindi. Gradually, as musical dramas became the main form of entertainment towards the end of the 19th century, classical ragas and raginis became the main raw material for the stage songs.

Great Ustads of classical music like Nissar Hussain Khan of the Gwalior gharana were employed by leading theatre group like the Kiloskar Natak Mandali. Later on, in the early 20th century stalwarts like Bhaskarbuwa Bakhle, Ramkrishnabuwa Vaze and Govindrao Tembe were roped in by front ranking theatre groups like Gandharv Natak Mandali and Lalitkaladarsh.

Classical singers of the stature of Master Krishnarao, Hirabai Badodekar and Savai Gandharva were associated with the musical drama. Later generation singers like Vasantrao Deshpande, Ram Marathe and others too dominated the stage music scene. Asha Khadilkar who chose to remain the singer of stage songs and avoided the temptation of becoming aactor singer, enjoys unique status as a singer of stage songs.

Over the last 12 years, she has composed music for six plays produced by Nehru Centre. A programme was held at the P L Deshpande Hall at Vile Parle where stage songs composed by Asha Khadilkar by a group of hugely talented singers like Shrirang Bhave, Dyanesh Pendharkar, Mehendale and Vedashree Oke were sung. It drew a capacity audience. All those songs were more or less raga based. Asha Khadilkar's music seems to be influenced by the composing style of the late Jitendra Abhisheki. The singers sang them with vigour and they made a very positive and strong impact. Prakash Vagal on the organ and Dhananjay Puranik on the tabla lent superb support.

Narayan Joshi, veteran tabla guru passed away in Pune last week. He was the son of the late Gajananrao Joshi. Narayanrao trained under the great Thirakava Khansaheb. He taught many students and was popular in the tabla circles as a knowledgeable musician. He will be sorely missed.

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