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Tribute to a titan

Wednesday, December 27, 2017
By Amarendra Dhaneshwar

The late Omkarnath Thakur was one of the iconic figures of Hindustani classical music in the 20th century. Omkarnath who was born in Gujarat went to Lahore which was then a part of undivided India to learn music from the great Vishnu Digambar Paluskar. Omkarnath established himself as a performing musician who made his mark all over India. Later, he made Benaras his home and set up the music department of the Benaras Hindu University.

Omkarnath was imbued with a national spirit like many other musicians of his generation. His guru Vishnu Digambar often sang the national song 'Vande Mataram' at the all India Congress Sessions. Omkarnath too would emulate his guru in this respect. In fact, as the free India's flag was unfurled by the great Jawaharlal Nehru on the night of August 15, 1947, it was Omkarnath Thakur who was asked to sing 'Vande Mataram'. Such was his stature.

His 50th death anniversary falls on December 29. A fitting tribute program was conceived and executed by the santoorist Snehal Muzoomdar under the auspices of 'Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan' and 'Udayan' last week.

The memorial concert was made lively by Muzoomdar, with his well researched and interesting commentary full of literary wits. It featured various genres of Panditji's music, from classical 'bandishes' to songs and even a 'ghazal' sung by him in the 20s. The concert started with the rendition of 'Vande Mataram' on santoor by Snehal, violin by Nandini Shankar and vocal by Shraddha Shridharani in Mishra Kafi as originally sung by Panditji on August 15, 1947. Kathak dancer Bhakti Deshpande added flavour by her sit-in 'abhinay'. Other singers included Jahnavi Shrimankar and Nupur Joshi. Snehal also engaged Dr. Archana Dixit, wife of Dr. Pradip Dixit, one of the foremost disciples of Panditji, in an interesting dialogue on the life and style of Panditli.

Nandini's 'Nilambari' took the audience to memory of the forties and fifties. Anutosh Ghevaria gave tabla accompaniment. The concert was very well received by the packed audience who gave a standing ovation to the artistes. On popular demand, the concert will be repeated at Bhavans, Andheri on December 29 at 6.30 pm, on the day of the 50th death anniversary at the Andheri (W) complex of Bhavan's, at the S.P. Jain Auditorium.

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