Page 22 - seniors today August issue
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holidays, the training would happen each day          Early years
        morning and evening. Thus, I had almost no            During those early years of my music training,
        life left other than music and academic studies.      Kishoritai was not the same celebrity as she
        In hindsight, I feel very blessed that I could        became in later years. This was to my advantage,
        assimilate the essence of Kishoritai’s avant-         as I used to get her undivided attention one-
        garde treatment of a large number of complex          on-one during the entire lesson. Also, since she
        Raagas of Jaipur Gharana.                             was living with her mother, my training was
                                                              indirectly under Mai’s keen ear and supervision.
         Kishoritai was a perfectionist when it came          I therefore received the beautiful blend of the
        to teaching. It was mostly one-on-one with me,        structural beauty of the Jaipur Gharana Raagas,
        but sometime together with Mrs. Manik Bhide           but also the romantic beauty that was the
        (mother of Vidushi Ashwini Bhide Deshpande).          hallmark of Tai’s own temperament. This golden
        She would normally alternate “Avartans”               mean did not reach most other disciples of Tai
        (cycles) between me and herself. However, when        who came 20 years after me, by which time Tai
        a phrase did not come out right, she would            had started to de-emphasise the grammatical
        make me repeat it several times until it came to      or structural rigidity of the Raag and replace
        her satisfaction. She was not as patient as her       it with an emotional touch to the rendering.
        mother (who also taught me many times when            The most significant feature of her treatment of
        Tai was unable to sit for a lesson or was out         any Raag was her very special attention to the
        of Mumbai). If I could not reproduce a given          Shrutis (microtones) of the notes that formed the
        phrase quickly, she would get upset. So there         Raag. For example, The extra flat treatment of
        was always pressure to get things right. The          Komal Re in Raagas like Marwa and all varieties
        Asthai and Antara of any new Raaga had to be          of Todi, Dha in Bibhas that is neither Komal
        learnt precisely. There were no electronic pocket     nor Shuddh, but three quarters of the way from
        recorders or smart phones. So I found myself          Komal to Shuddh Dha! Similarly, her treatment
        vigorously reciting those verses in the bus going     of Komal Ga and Komal Ni in Kaushi Kanada
        home after the lesson, much to the curiosity of       is an example of the control she had mastered
        fellow passengers!                                    in singing different Shrutis of the same two
                                                              notes. These two notes have different Shrutis
         Much of the world saw Kishoritai as a stern,         depending on whether one shows the Malkauns
        hard-driving, demanding, and temperamental            component or Darbari Kanada component of
        artist. However, my personal relationship with        Kaushi Kanada. Thus, we, the senior disciples
        her as a disciple was very different. There           had to strive to master these Shruti differences,
        was a very loving, caring and soft side to her        and she would get annoyed whenever we could
        persona that co-existed with her demanding            not achieve consistency in singing those Shrutis!
        and strict teaching style. I remember vividly a       Such sessions were always a challenge and
        touching occasion which I am tempted to share         source of immense happiness when I satisfied
        here. Once I had taken ill with high fever at IIT     Tai with the right Shrutis.
        campus and was hospitalized at the IIT hospital
        in Powai. When I phoned Tai that I would not           Since there was only a 12-year difference
        be able to come for the weekend lessons, she          between my age and Tai’s, apart from rigorous
        became so worried about me, that she came             one-on-one training, we used to spend hours
        all the way in a taxi to my hospital, got me          discussing nuances of Raagas, their specific
        discharged under her care, and took me home,          Shrutis (microtones of main notes), aesthetic
        covering me with the Pallav of her Sari to shield     treatment of singing the Asthayi Aantaras,
        me from the breeze! Such was her loving and           tandem relationship between Sur and Taal,
        caring side.                                          and the special way in which words had to
                                                              be pronounced interlinked with the rhythm,
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