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Special Kids Delight

Tuesday, October 31, 2017
By Amarendra Dhaneshwar

‘Vande Mataram' is respected as a national song. A national song is distinct from the national anthem. 'Vande Mataram' has been unnecessarily caught up in a totally avoidable controversy. Originally penned in 1850s by the Bangla poet/writer it has only two stanzas. Later on the song became a part of the novel ' Anandmath' which is considered to be a classic.

Bankimchandra added three more stanzas which were relevant to the theme of the novel which depicted the conflict between the Muslim Zamindar and Hindu sharecroppers. It was Ravindranath Tagore who sang the ode to the motherland in a Congress session way back in 1895. It became a war cry during the anti partition struggle waged by the Bengal nationalists and revolutionaries. Unfortunately, the Muslims of East Bengal were in the opposite camp and they misconstrued 'Vande Mataram' as being anti- Muslim.

This anti song bias was exploited by Mohammed Ali Jinnah in 1937 when he wanted to raise the pitch in favour of the proposed Pakistan. Mahatma Gandhi was quick to appoint a committee to enquire whether the song contained any anti Muslim sentiment under the chairmanship of Ravindranath Tagore and the Tagore committee unequivocally stated that only the first two stanzas of the song should be sung. Political parties like the Hindu Mahasabha, Jansangh and now the BJP do not follow the recommendation of the Tagore committee.

One was reminded of the unfortunate controversy as one sat listening to 'Vande Mataram' being played by Vishwa Mohan Bhatt on his mohan veena at the Savarkar Smarak Auditorium. Classical musicians of the stature of Vishnu Digambar Paluskar, Omkarnath Thakur, Master Krishnarao, Mogubai Kurdikar and many others have sung 'Vande Mataram' on discs. They not only appreciated the deep devotion for the motherland that the song inspired but also tried to interpret and reflect it through their own singing. Bhatt's song was in the raga 'Des' and it had that expected intensity which was quite moving. He also played the raga 'Bihag' with professional expertise. Durjay Bhowmik who accompanied him on the tabla is exceptionally brilliant. His strokes has as much clarity as had force. Nabanita Chowdhury, a senior pupil of Rajan and Sajan Mishra, sang the raga 'Puriya Dhanashree' very well. The Benaras idiom was evident in her singing. She also sang a thumri in 'Shivrankjani'. The programme was organized by the Delhi based 'Nadd Foundation' which seeks to work for special children. Aarati Nagarkar (vocal) and Pratibha Kamath (sitar), both special kids, gave a good account of themselves. Prasad Padhye, Pandurang Pawar and Nupur Kulkarni on the tabla, Sangeet Mishra on the sarangi and Milind Kulkarni on the harmonium gave superb support to the performing musicians. The programme was supported by the Union Ministry of Culture.

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