Sunday, July 6, 2014

Dhrupad festival in honor of Vidur Mallik at Jai Singh Ghera

Shri Pandit Vidur Mallik
Vrindavan, 2014.07.05 (VT). In a special commemoration of the contributions of Pandit Vidur Mallick, Jai Singh Ghera was once again host to an event celebrating the dhrupad style of Indian classical vocal music. For three days, from July 4th to 6th, many of the top artists from the Darbhanga gharana performed at the Dhrupad Dham Samaroh. The program was filled with the Pandit's students, many of whom are his own family members, including his three sons and several grandsons. Indeed, since many of the Malliks now have international careers and have made their homes in different places, the progam had something of the joyful atmosphere of a family reunion.

Ramkumar Mallik in concert with his son Samit Kumar
and Ananda Kumar Mallik on pakhawaj.
The Darbhanga gharana tradition of dhrupad singing which was formed in the Darbhanga royal court in the 18th century. With Indian independence came the end of royal patronage, forcing artists to take their talents to the public, and Pandit Vidur Mallick (1936-2002) was the pioneer of this effort in the Darbhanga school. In close relation to the Sri Chaitanya Prem Sansthan, Vidur Mallik founded a Dhrupad Gurukul named after his father, Pandit Sukhdeo Mallik Sangeet Samit, in Vrindavan. In 1983, Panditji also accepted the position of Dhrupad Acharya in the Brajakala Gurukul run by Sri Caitanya Prem Sansthan. This significant effort was an attempt to rejuvenate the classical forms of dhrupad, which have their origins in the Radha-Krishna bhajans of Vrindavan’s own  Swami Haridas and developed in the court of Akbar by the legendary Tansen. Many of the performers participating in the Samaroha have also been teachers here in Vrindavan at one time or another in their careers.

Ramkumar Mallik and his son singing yugal bandhi.
Acharya Ritwik Sanyal
The concert opened with Brij Bhushan Goswami, was followed by Pandit Sukhdev Chaturvedi, who introduced his performance with a heartfelt homage to Vidur Mallik. Chaturvedi is tall and good looking, and has a very powerful presence. Like all dhrupad performers, he seems to have a sense of humor and a sense of the enigmatic and mysterious in his performance.

The father and son team of Ramkumar Mallik and Samit Kumar Mallik performed a powerful yugal performance.

I particularly enjoyed the performance of Acharya Ritwik Sanyal, who was trained in the dhrupad style of vocal music of the Dagarbani. Sanyal is a Professor and Head of the department of vocal music and Dean at the Faculty of Performing Arts at Banaras Hindu University. His style is sweeter and softer than the more masculine vir rasa approach of the Mallik family. He finished with a rendition of Jayati Sri Radhe, which was especially appropriate for a concert in the Dham.

I am not very knowledgeable about dhrupad as far as its intricacies and parts are concerned. I like to sit and meditate on the overall effect of the sound. Indeed, leading dhrupad maestros remark that rather than to entertain the audience, its purpose is worship. The nature of Dhrupad music is spiritual, seeking not to entertain, but to induce deep feelings of peace and contemplation in the listener. In the past, before electricity and Western-style concerts, where people sit in chairs at considerable distance from the performers, small groups of afficionados would gather to hear this music, which has always been a spiritual and meditational exercise. It seems impossible to return to that past, which probably exists even now in private settings. For that reason I was more than a little troubled by the rather inconsiderate Dura Darshan television team from Lucknow who seemed determined to make more noise than the musicians.