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The grandeur of Gwalior khyal

Tuesday, October 10, 2017
By Amarendra Dhaneshwar

The Gwalior gharana is considered to be the fountainhead of 'khyal' music. The 'khyal' form of music originated in the 18th century in Delhi when the Mughal power was already on the decline. The 'dhrupad' was the dominant form of music before the advent of the 'khyal'. The main instrument which was in vogue was the 'Been' or the 'rudra veena'. There was a dispute regarding the status accorded to the 'Been' players by the Emperor who rated the vocalists slightly above the instrumentalists. The disenchanted 'Been' players were out of the court for a while and they composed their own songs which incorporated the tonal beauties of the 'Been'. It was 'khyal' which caught the attention of the Emperor and also of the others. With the disintegration of the Mughal power, the musicians first went to Lucknow and later migrated to Gwalior where they found a safe haven in the court of the Shindes. This is how the Gwalior gharana came into being in the later decades of the 19th century.

A documentary on the 'Gwlior khyal' has been made by the NID trained graduate Nandit Mehta who traces the origin of the gharana and emphasizes the various distinguishing features through some visuals, audio clippings and interviews with some stalwart Gwalior musicians. It is an hour long sojourn into the mystique of the 'Gwalior khyal'. There are interviews with Laxman Pandit, Sharad Sathe, Neela Bhagwat, Vidyadhar Vyas, Madhup Mudgal, Satyasheel Deshpande and Meeta Pandit. There are also some clippings which include music of Malini Rajurkar, Veena Sahasrabuddhe and Ulhas Kashalkar. Audio tracks of D V Paluskar, Kumar Gandharva and Omkarnath Thakur enriched the content. More descriptive than analytical, the documentary provides interesting insights on the gayaki and stylistics of the 'Gwalior gharana'. It was screened at the NCPA recently and a full to the brim auditorium cheered the director who presented the show. It was preceded by the audio listening session of the great Krishnarao Shankar Pandit's music. The majesty of the 'Gwalior khyal', its wide sweep and its innate dignity simply enraptured the audience.

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