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Irresistible Charm of the Bow

Wednesday, December 12, 2018
By Amarendra Dhaneshwar

The veteran violinist Damodar Krishna Datar passed away a few months ago. The void created by his death was acutely felt by music lovers. Datar was away from the concert scene for almost a decade due to old age related ailments. Applauded for his silken touch and delightful music, he continued to charm music buffs for well over five decades. It is indeed a happy augury that his senior disciple and now an established violinist Kailash Patra has descended on the concert circuits and has  taken over from where Datar had left. Patra was featured in the early morning concert series hosted by 'Pancham Nishad' at the open amphi theatre like space at the Ravindra Natya Mandir, Prabhadevi. The large crowd of music afficianados lustily cheered Patra and his music for well over two hours.

Patra is well versed in vocal music. He trained initially under Sadashiv Kulkarni of the Gwalior gharana. Later on it was the doyen of the same gharana, Laxmanrao Pandit who guided him. He has absorbed the best elements of the Gwalior gharana gayaki and it reflects in his treatment of ragas and raginis. Patra had selected the raga 'Lalit' to begin this concert. The original  version of this raga had natural D as a principal note. Gwalior gharana maestros like Krishnarao Pandit and Sharadchandra Arolkar always sang this version of the raga. Even old recordings of musicians of the eminence of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan and Ravi Shankar played the raga 'Lalit' with shuddha D. Patra's 'Lalit' was not only soothing but intellectually elevating. He also played the raga 'Jaunpuri'. This raga, attributed to the King of 'Jaunpur' in eastern Uttar Pradesh is considered to be 'Uttrang Pradhan'. It means that it is oriented towards the upper octave. Such ragas sound sweet on the bowed instrument like the violin only if the touch is soft. In this case it was very much so because of the 'talim' received from Datar. Patra also played 'Vande Matram', the national song immortalized by countless martyrs who  went to the gallows chanting this patriotic hymn. One can appreciate the motivation behind playing this song as a concluding piece in a classical concert. It was based on the raga 'Des'. Patra, however, succumbed to the temptation of indulging in gimmicry which is not necessary for an accomplished musicians like him. Satyajit Talwalkar on the tabla was excellent as usual.

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