Sawai Gandharva Music Festival

I am music lover and like to listen music of various genres, including classical music. Though although it will be brave of me to claim that I understand it, but I like to study musicological aspects to enhance my listening. Music festivals such Pune’s Sawai Gandharva Music Festival(सवाई गंधर्व संगीत महोत्सव) have played big role in spreading classical music. In this blog, I am not going talk about the music programs of this festival. It is already discussed by expert at many other places. But instead want to talk of other interesting activities which take place away from main venue. This venue is Sawai Gandharva Smarak Samiti at Shivajinagar. They are related to music but instead of performances this focuses on musicological aspects of this art. They do it by showing documentaries on life of musicians enabling audiences to understand motivation, upbringing of that artist during his/her era. They also conduct live interviews of artists to explore facets of their art form. I have attended quite a few sessions in the past. The film show program is titled Shadhja(षड्ज) and interview program is called Antarang(अंतरंग). The other music festival of Pune arranged after Pandit Vasantrao Deshpande, titled Vasantotsav, has more serious undertaking called Vasantotsav Vimarsh, apart from music performance itself. I have talked about that here.

This year’s(2015) edition of Sawai Gandharva Music Festival’s Shadhja and Antarang had interviews with Pandit Jasraj and Pravin Gotkhindi, and it had following films:

Sangeet Martand Jasraj  by Madhura Jasraj
Bansuri Guru Pandit Hariprasad Churasia by Rajiv Churasiya.
Jamuna Ke Tir:Abdul Karim Khan by Meena Fatarpekar
Hirabai Badodekar interview by Vamanrao Deshpande

I was able to watch Saturday’s session which had two films. One was on Abdul Karim Khan, founder of Kirana gharana and the other was recording of interview of Hirabai Badodekar.

The Film titled ‘Jamuna Ke Tir’, on Ustad Abdul Karim Khan was made by Meena Fatarpekar, who is part of same Kiarana gharana herself. The contribution and life of Abdul Karim Khan is pretty well known and documented, though it had interesting snippets such as his enemies tried to feed him betal leaves and shendur(शेंदूर, red colored lead powder) to damage his voice. This was similar to what was shown in recent movie Katyar Kaljat Ghusali. The film also had photograph where a trained dog him would accompany him at certain times during music performance. It also had photographs of he going for hunting and one with killed leopard. The film also traced how his lineage has developed and how it is alive by covering various artist of his lineage.

The other recording related to Hirabai Badodekar’s interview also was entertaining to say the least. At the interview’s recording time, she was probably counting her last days. The interviewer touched many topics and tried to get information from her on various topics and interesting episodes in her life such as he training, her public performances, her entry to music theater, film singing, her disciples, rivalry with Roshan Ara Begum. I wish it had covered her relation with other artists such Goharbai and Amirbai Karnataki, both related to music theater and film singing along with her during the pre-independence era. The interesting memory of hers where she was invited to sing at Delhi’s parliament house on the eve of function organized on Aug 15, 1947 during the declaration of independence. She also was part of singing group on Jan 26, 1950, in Red Fort in Delhi, on the occasion of first Republic Day, when India adopted constitution.

A note on BRT experience

Today morning, I traveled by a bus, to the venue of the above program, via Bus Rapid Transport System(BRT or BRTS) which has started recently by PMPML with big fanfare in PCMC area. I cannot resist to share the experience here. The BRT stations as they call to refer the bus stops, are nicely done and remind railway platforms as one see commuters waiting there for their bus. The automatic doors at the stations still work. They open as the bus enters the station and closes after it leaves. The buses seem be in good shape from outside, but quality inside is not good. Automatic doors make pretty bad noise while opening and closing. I noticed a continuous beep in shrill voice at these doors. I don’t understand why these buses have names such as Vajra(वज्र) followed by route number. Vajra or Vayu Vajra buses are brand names of similar buses in Bengaluru. The buses still have conductors who tenders tickets to commuters, which could have either automated by vending machine at the bus stop or at the driver’s seat.

All in all, bus travel via BRT is one step further, better safety due to closed doors, though some might think thrill of hanging in the open doors is now lost.



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