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Felicitating a veteran

Wednesday, May 30, 2018
By Amarendra Dhaneshwar

The city of Mumbai has always been a safe haven for musicians of different schools and gharanas. In the earlier generations, we had musicians of the stature of Mogubai Kurdikar, Sharadchandra Arolkar, Jagannath buwa Purohit, Ratnakar Pai, K G Ginde, S C R Bhat and many others. They represented different gharanas and were respected for their authority and mastery. That breed of musicians has already passed into history.

The present generation of veterans has been more accommodating and less authoritarian. They have brought up a number of students who have not only made grade as  competent performers but have also promoted interaction with other gharanas and streams of musical ideas. Arun Kashalkar is one of the foremeost classical singers who has transformed himself into a veteran over the last decade.

Kashalkar has long remained in the shadow for reasons best known to himself. His youngest brother Ulhas has been a front ranking vocalist on the scene for the last two decades. Arun Kashalkar has devoted himself to quiet study and pursuit of music. He trained under venerable musicians like Gajananrao Joshi, Ram Marathe and Shrikrishna Haldankar. Barring Haldankar, his other two gurus were eclectic in their approach as well as training. Arun Kashalkar has carried that eclectic tradition further. His is the most powerful voice in defence of the peculiar aesthetics of the Agra gharana. Arun Kashalkar has translated his aesthetic vision into actual musical material by way of his compositions which he writes under the pen name 'Rasdas'.

These compositions have entered the standard repertoire of the new generation of singers.

Kashalkar turned 75 a few months ago. A grand function was held to felicitate him at Maharashtra Sewa Sangh at Mulund. It was an impressive gathering of musicians of different gharanas. Kashalkar's eight students gave solo vocal performances which were followed by a resounding solo tabla recital by the leading percussionist Yogesh Samsi – the star tabla player on the current scene. There were apt speeches by musicians and admirers of Kashalkar. His brother Vikas' speech was more analytical than emotional. Arun Kashalkar was indeed generous when he said that his brothers had gone much ahead and he was proud of their achievements. It was a function full of warmth and a convival spirit prevailed over the eight hour-long function.

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