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Masur’s gayaki on sarod!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017
By Amarendra Dhaneshwar

The late Mallikarjun Mansur was one of the titanic figures of Hindustani music in the 20th century. Mansur belonged to North Karnataka which had close cultural links with Maharashtra and the Northern part of India. Hindustani music has its adherents and votaries in Northern Karnataka and some of the outstanding vocalists hail from this region.

Mansur (1912 to 1992) learned in Gwalior as well as at the Jaipur Attrauli gharana and reached the top on the strength of the rigour and vitality which exuded from his music. One recalls Ravi Shankar, the world famous sitarist admiringly applauding Mansur's breath control even when he was past 75.

NA Foundation, a Pune-based institution run by vocalist Priyadarshini Kulkarni celebrates the memory of Mansur every year by holding a grand music festival. This time the festival was held at Habitat Centre and the audience was full of dignitaries. Priyadarshini Kulkarni herself is an heir to Mansur's music in the sense that she has learned from his illustrious son Dr. Rajshekhar Mansur. Priyadarshini has imbibed the Jaipur Attrauli tradition remarkably well. She sang 'Basanti Kedari' and 'Tilak Kamod', two ragas which are the specialties of the gharana in a manner which evoked appreciation. Biswajit Roychaoudhury, the well-known Delhi-based sarod player has trained under Amjad Ali Khan and also under Mallikarjun Mansur. It is rare to find a sarod player learning from a vocalist. Biswajit played compositions in 'Shree', 'Jaitashree', 'Bahar' and 'Kafi Kanada'. There were passages in his 'Kafi Kanada' which were reminiscent of Mansur's singing. It was a wonderful interpretation of Mansur’s gayaki through the medium of the sarod.

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