The sound of music, in Chembur

Forty-nine-year-old Suresh Khadke, trustee of the Chembur-based DR Khadke Pratishthan, is palpably excited about the 36th year of the suburb’s Sangeet Samrat Alladiyakhan Music Festival. “It may seem impossible to keep up a music festival free for people for over three decades, but here we are,” he says.

Kishori Amonkar at an earlier edition of the festival
Kishori Amonkar at an earlier edition of the festival

Suresh’s uncle, Damodar Khadke, first organised the festival in 1977. “We have also been organising weekly mehfils at our home since 35 years. It is a great place for artistes to pair with musicians,” says Suresh.

The Sangeet Samrat Alladiyakhan Music Festival prides itself on the fact that they don’t repeat an artiste for at least a decade. “Around 42 artistes will perform this year. We do not repeat an artiste’s performance for a decade. Guests always have someone new to look forward to. It is a beautiful moment.”

This year, artistes such as Pandit Suresh Talwalkar, Pandit Shamrao Gunjkar, Pandit Jayshree Patnekar and Pandit Arnab Chattopadhyay will perform at the festival. In the past, says Suresh, Pandit Malik Arjun Mansoor, Pandit Kumar Gandharva, Pandit Jasraj, Pandit Vamanrao Sadolikar, and Kishori Amonkar have performed at the event.

“Unlike other music festivals, we observe the ‘baithak’, and the audience sits with us. The applause isn’t the only way the audience can appreciate your music -- an artiste isn’t up there in the dark, can sense the audience’s reaction and mould the performance accordingly.”

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