Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Thyagaraja and Purandaradasa are considered to be musicians whose work was beyond compare. Though their compositions date back to hundreds of years, their compositions are still sung in concerts and are regarded as some of the best works in history. With the intent to give Mumbai audiences a glimpse into their genius, NCPA is hosting a three-day festival titled Bandish. The festival, that begins this Friday, will pay tribute to many of India’s legendary composers.
Bhakti for all
“Bhakti was predominant in Thyagaraja’s compositions,” explains Carnatic singer Sudha Raghunathan, who will be paying tribute to Thyagaraja and Purandaradasa in the festival. “Apart from bhakti, what was special about both these legendary composers is that they also taught us about life and how to live, their compositions were such that they would guide people on how to elevate their life. For example, Thyagaraja said, when you don’t put your heart into something, it is never complete. Purandaradasa said whether you work for fame or money, ultimately it’s all for the stomach,” Raghunathan emphasises. According to her, compositions by these legendary musicians are alive and will continue to be for many years to come. “In the South, we still complete concerts with a Tyagaraja Kirtan,” she says, adding that such festivals are important to keep their compositions alive. “At such festivals, you can put the spotlight on the greatness of a few composers. Through their compositions you also introduce the audience to their lives. In Mumbai, the audience has a varied interest and I think a little commentary on the lives of these composers will be appreciated,” she reveals.
Remember the titans
Rajan Mishra, who will be paying tribute to Bade Ramdas or Ramdas Mishra, feels that this festival will give the audience an opportunity to listen to bandishes by Bade Ramdas, who is considered one of the greatest musicians of the Benaras Gharana. “I have learnt from Bade Ramdas; he has been my guru and in a way, my grandfather,” says Rajan Mishra, who will be performing with his brother Sajan Mishra at the concert.
“Bade Ramdas has composed around 5,000-6,000 works in his lifetime and we have been singing his works from a very young age. His works have a lot of literature and amazing use of taal and speed,” he adds. “Bandish is a unique concert as it allows compositions by great composers to reach the public. Young musicians can listen and learn from them. These legendary musicians have worked for years to keep the tradition alive by teaching it to their children and grandchildren. We should be very proud of them. Indian music is ancient and these musicians have worked hard to preserve it,” emphasises Mishra.
Apart from Raghunathan and Mishra, the concert will witness several renowned musicians paying tribute to legendary composers. Ulhas Kashalkar will be performing compositions by Srikrishna Ratanjankar, Ajoy Chakrabarty will captivate the audience with Bade Ghulam Ali Khan’s compositions and Girija Devi will pay tribute to Shambhunath Mishra and Shyamcharan Mishra.