The signs were unmistabale as we approached the gates of Bharat Bhavan in Bhopal. The security cordon was befitting a VVIP or a bollywood star rather than a classical musician. As I presented my invitation card to the volunteers with my daughter in tow, I was issued a warning that children may not be allowed inside the hall. Finally, at the entrance door of the concert hall, security persons almost seized my cellphone as I was slow in switching it off! All this was now adding up to whatever I had heard about the reclusive Diva - Kishori Amonkar. She's the highest paid classical musician in India and is reported to have stopped her recital midway after she spotted a certain Farooq Abdullah chatting in the front row.
Before the start of performance, there were innumerable instructions regarding cell phone, photography, videography etc. The seating arrangement was of the "Baithak" type in Indian fashion. At last the Diva arrived and after sundry intro's the performance began. She commenced with a Vilambit Khayal in Raag Bhoopali and culimnated it with a taraana in drut teental. She then continued with a "Sahela" in the same Raag. Now I must admit to my ignorance about Sahela. I have heard Thumris, Daadras, Chaitis, Kajris and Tappas, but never Sahela. Neverthless it was enchantable. After taking a break of 15 minutes, the Diva then sang a Khayal in Raag Kedaar and ended the evening (nay night !) with a bhajan.
As far as the performance was concerned, let me confess that I am not too fond of the Jaipur - Atrauli Gharaana "Shaili". Niether was I too fond of Pt Mallikarjun Mansoor, nor am I much appreciative of this lady. Since I'm not trained in Classical music, I may not be able to express my point eloquently. I feel that its precisely for this reason that Jaipur-Atrauli gharaana doesn't appeal to people like us. I feel there's too much of "Vyakarana" or grammar and too little of "Shringaar" or adornings, which makes a recital technically flawless, but less beautiful. Its somewhat like the difference between the batting of Sunil Gavaskar and Gundappa Vishvanath !
But that's not he point. What I am about to write is about the massive ego of a person. I sincerely feel that that a "Kalakaar" must be humble above all. Just last month I had attended the concert of Parveen Sultana. What a difference between the attitudes of both exalted personages ! I had blogged about her performance and narrated her humility. Sadly tht's lacking totally in this Diva. At the outset itself she'd said that "Mere paas sirf shaastreeya sangeet ke sur hain, aur aakhir main academic minded persons ke liye bhajan shayad gaoon." To me it means that only her music is music, rest all is hogwash ! I'm sorry madame, I don't agree with you at all. While I too do not consider today's film music as something to cherish, but I dont find anything degrading in Thumris, tappas or Bhajans. Anyways its a democratic country and she'sentitled to her views as I am to mine ! In total contrast, in Parveen Sultana's concert none of such "Nautanki" was evident anywhere. No one was forced to switch off their mobiles. yet, the moment recital commenced, there was pin drop silence. To summarize in th end, I found the atmosphere too "Natkiya" and artificial. I did enjoy the concert despite my misgivings about the gharana, but I came away a disenchanted soul !