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Legendary violinist Pt D K Datar bids adieu

Friday, October 12, 2018
By Amarendra Dhaneshwar

'Life is like a violin. Just play on', said a great philosopher. Pandit D K Datar who passed away yesterday in the city at the ripe age of 85 not only believed in this precept but also delighted thousands of music lovers with his smooth and well shaped notes on the violin. Datar would turn 86 in a few days (Sunday, October 14) and was away from the concert stage as a performer for almost a decade, but memories of his delectable music will continue to haunt and inspire music buffs for years to come.

Damodar Krishna Datar was more known by his English initials. Perhaps he was inspired by his seniors like Dattatraya Vishnu Paluskar (D V) or Vishnu Govind (V G) Jog to adopt English initials to announce his name. He was academically qualified with a bachelor's degree, yet opted to become a full-time musician which was a challenge of sorts. To begin with, in the early 1950s, he would provide accompaniment to D V Paluskar who was the most popular vocalist of his generation. Paluskar brand of music was sweetness personified and it was natural that Datar preferred to adjust his playing technique to the vocalism dominated style.

The violin is comparatively a recent entrant to the field of classical instrumental music. Ustad Allauddin Khan, Gajananrao Joshi, Shridhar Parsekar and V G Jog were already established names. Dr N Rajam too emerged as the reflector of Omkarnath Thakur's emotion-laden voice. Datar, with his immaculate sense of melody and command of the raga swar, managed to carve a niche for himself. His brother Naraynarao Datar initiated him into music. His training in violin was under Vigheshwarshastri Pandit who was a teacher at the Prof Deodhar's School of Indian Music which was the pride of erstwhile Bombay.

Unlike many other established violinists, Datar decided to develop the 'gayaki ang' or the violin played according to the khyal style of unfoldment. He did not depend upon theatricality and gimmicks to extort applause from the audience. He did not use extra amplification by way of a 'pick up mike' in order to create a false impression of 'power' to enhance the impact of his music. He simply won over the hearts of the audience with the irresistible appeal of ragas and raginis. He did not believe in playing uncommon or weird ragas, 'Shudh Kalyan', 'Maru Bihag', 'Bihag', 'Bhimpalas' and 'Yaman' were his choices and the audience which would sit mesmerised would simply lap them up, listening to them from the violinist with a pleasant demeanour.

Occasionally, he would play 'Narvar Krishnasaman' – a 'natyageet' based on 'Mand' which would bring the house down with a deafening applause. His chemistry with tabla players like Vibhav Naheshkar, Sadanand Naimpalli and Omkar Gulwady was excellent and that would guarantee a full house.

Datar has a string of talented disciples who are on their own by now. Milind Raikar, Kailash Patra and Rajan Mashelkar will certainly carry forward his rich and luminous legacy. Datar was employed by the 'Films Division' where he contributed to the background score of many documentary films.

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