Venue: Kamani Auditorium
Date: 1-3 September 2017
Is Indian classical music on its way out? Does it need a shot in the arm?
These are matters of discussion. However, the recently concluded three day Thumri Festival at Kamani Auditorium indicated otherwise. It was packed house every evening with people seated on the isles and many standing on the sides as well. Organised by Department of Art, Culture and Languages, Government of Delhi and presented by Sahitya Kala Parishad, it was a gala celebration for this light classical form of Hindustani vocals.
The three days long festival featured a combination of maestros as well as beginners. The audience regaled at the rendition of Pandit Channulal Mishra and went ecstatic during the performance by the grand dame of this gharana, Girija Devi. However, they were equally interested to listen to the rising artists such as Indrani Mukherjee, Ramakant Gaikwad and Meeta Pandit.
While little needs to be said about the veterans, the young school showed promise and was heartily encouraged by the enthusiastic audience. Malini Awasthi, who had organised the music festival Purab Rang entertained the house with her Baithaki singing style. She sang Purab Ang Thumri (eastern style – Banarasi gharana) Her dance like hand movements during singing light classical songs are perhaps a lost art now. We had heard her during 2012 Thumri Fetival and saw her being more candid over time. We loved the heavy voice and drama in the rendition of lesser known Paschim Ang Thumri (western style) by Ramakant Gaikwad and hope to hear him again.
Admittedly Indian classical music is facing competition from various other forms of entertainment medium. But, this genre of music, as Malavika Sarukkai says, is not about entertainment but about enjoyment. Hence as long as there would be rasikas (or aficionados), thumri is here to stay. As we saw during the recent Spic Macay festival as well, there is a huge audience, cutting across ages, who don’t mind travelling or physical discomforts to attend a classical music concert. So all’s well and the Thumri Festival 2017 is only another melodious nod towards that.