Ragas bring relief to drought victims

Sunday is one of the best day in the week, for it is a day when one can relax, sleep till the heart desires (add when the heart desires) and leaves you with enough time to just sit in your shorts and be lazy all day long.

Sunday is one of the best day in the week, for it is a day when one can relax, sleep till the heart desires (add when the heart desires) and leaves you with enough time to just sit in your shorts and be lazy all day long. This Sunday, however, started differently. I woke up at 5am to attend a Classical Music Event. Many Punekars, who love their sleep might detest this, but it was one of the most beautiful mornings, especially when it starts with the morning ragas played by wonderful artistes.

The morning began with the flute of Ronu Majumdar, who was accompanied on tabla by Ramdas Palsule. The flute enriched the of all the Punekars present (the audience at this time was quite less, given the fact that the ticket prices were quite high as it included some amount which was to be donated for the drought relief fund and the 6am start time wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea). Ronu’s character being as sweet as his flute only added to his generosity, for he donated Rs. 25,001 for the relief of drought victims. After a nice cup of tea, pohe and sabdana khichdi, the second program began, with Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar taking his place on stage. His wonderful recitations only added to make the Sunday morning even more splendid, and we noticed Pandit Atulkumar Upadhye, the great violinist witnessing it with us, seated in the audience. After Ulhasji, it was the turn of great vocalists Pandit Rajan and Sajan Mishra to enthral the audience. Though there were issues of fidgeting with the mike system and the taunt of, “Yeh cooler yaha pe dikhane ko rakha hai kya? Garam ho raha hai..” the scene was set and with the brother’s singing “Dhanya Bhag Seva ka Avsar Aaya”. The morning session ended around 11 and one was left going home, still in a trance left by the wonderful music one witnessed at the Ramanbaug grounds.
The evening session started with the violin of L. Subramaniam (Dr. Lakshminarayan Subramaniam if you are obsessed with knowing the full names). The mridangam, ghatam and morsing (a small wind percussion instrument which makes a wonderful vibrating sound that makes a wonderful addition to any program, in my humble opinion) beautifully blended with the awesomeness of the violin and it was an experience of a lifetime. Having seen Subramaniam dominate an entire German orchestra at the Vasantotsav some years back, his greatness was unquestionable in my mind, but it just went up a notch with this performance. There are those who play the violin, and there’s L. Subramaniam, who creates magic with it. His son, Ambi, accompanied his father and will definitely be an artiste to watch out for in the future. In the audience was, a proud mother and wife, Kavita Krishnamoorthy.
After a small break, the goddess of Jaipur gharana, Kishoritai Amonkar took stage. Though she too, like Subramaniam, was hugely disappointed with the mike system and their displeasure was much visible, she did not fail to deliver, her voice resonating in the minds of the audience (by this time, it was about 10 times what it was in the morning). It was great to know that Kishoritai was the first recipient of the Pandit Bhimsen Joshi Lifetime Achievement Award from the state Government. Living up to her generosity, she donated Rs. 1 lakh to the Chief Minister’s drought relief fund, saying, “Hum kalakaar hai, hum to denge hi!” She ended her performance with the ending notes being, “Daha vajle”. Having had the police stop her performance before, she did not want to risk the same happening again and decided it was time at 10pm sharp, to the dismay of the audience, who would definitely have like a few more minutes of listening to her beautiful voice.
Though the high prices of the passes and the morning time meant there wasn’t as much audience as there should have been (with such great performers, I had expected the grounds to be packed) the event deserves mention for the cause they are supporting. Punekars too can lend a helping hand to our brothers suffering from this horrible summer heat along with the worst drought witnessed since a decade. Imagine living in this horrible heat and not having a cool sip of water to cool us. Punekars can donate to the Chief Minister’s Drought Relief Fund by writings cheques or bank drafts in the name of State Bank of India, Fort Branch, Account Number SB 32860305777.
Photography by Sana Sohoni