Of course, I am no longer as interested in the fine arts as I used to be. Time moves on and we also move on. Time was when I was a student at Santiniketan and though I went there to study other academic subjects, Santiniketan immediately drew me into the many seasonal festivals for each of which Tagore had composed songs and dramas and dances and thus with the Sangeeth Bhavan right in the centre of Tagore’s arts course, we, even the general stream of students were immune from the influences. My own class mates, some of them were also studying in the Sangeeth Bhavan and some in fact went on to make their names in music and dances. Some are now all India names, Rita Ganguly is one such. There are many others, as vocal musicians and instrumental players.
Sitar was a rage in my time. We used to go to Kolkatta in those days, I had many friends with whom I used to attend the duets of Ravi Sankar and Vila at Khan, their rivalry was the subject that interested us and that is how I came to know all the great names. Ravi Sankar himself came to play for us once and what he spoke inspired all of us. He played on the very scanty, open air verandah and he said; “I had played in all the prestigious halls of the musical capitals of the world. But I consider this simple verandah the most prestigious and most inspiring, this is the spot where Gurudev had honoured by his very presence and so I am inspired this evening, by this playing…”Such was the environment from where I learn music and dances and the songs.
Now, I am still in touch. I subscribe to some music magazines and though I no longer I look into the Marg publications soon after my long-time mentor and friend Mulk Raj Anand left it lost all its character for me.
I still keep buying old books, on music and dance, the one before me right now is the old, “The Music of India” by H.A.Popley, the 1921 edition! What is surprising, it still makes for very interesting reading to me ,at any rate! So too books by Kapila Vatsayana and others. I used to run across many old timers, Sunil Kothair is still seems to be quite agile and I keep in touch with what he says. So too with what the Chennai-based Carnatic music magazine, if I can say with some indulgence the mushy musical writing that is peculiar to the middle class Madras conservative culture. Of course, I have moved on. The daily early-morning tread mill exercise has come in handy. I keep listening to my old favourite, Balamurali Krishna. Now having listened all these years, I have moved on to listen to some new talents. I discovered the very mellifluous voice of Vasanthamadvai, a new discovery for me.
She is so sweet and so soothing that I don’t get easily tired of listening to her often. Her elaboration of Entharo Mahabavalu and Nagumogu keeps my half an hour exercise a new pleasure! So too the new discoveries, the Gayathri Girish and Gayathri Venkataraghavan. Yes, now I have learnt to be less conservative in my tastes, I try new experiments, both the new voices and also new fusion music. Of course, I still come back to old voices; the older names now seem to attract me. No more I am just the fan of MS or Rukmani Devi Arundal. The sentimental, sanitised versions of music and dance now a bit tire me.
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