Mumbai Music: Nitin Shirodkar
Director: Surabhi Sharma; Cinematographer: Ajay Noronha
Duration: 01:39:07; Aspect Ratio: 1.778:1; Hue: 25.489; Saturation: 0.182; Lightness: 0.231; Volume: 0.089; Cuts per Minute: 0.293; Words per Minute: 119.577
Summary: Music lover and amateur singer Nitin Shirodkar speaks about his close association with Kirana gharana singers Firoz Dastur and Bhimsen Joshi, his family and community's enduring connection to Hindustani music, and the extraordinary Girgaum neighbourhood where generations of musicians lived and performed.
TN:Nitin bhai this is a beautiful house, and... starting with the floor to the staircase, it's obviously an old house and your family been living here for a very long time...
NS: Yes, Yes
TN: So tell us something about when your family first came to Bombay, came to this house, to this neighbourhood?
NS: My grandmother somewhere in 1937 or '38, that's the time this building was constructed, and there were... she was telling me you know everywhere to let, to let it was there, and predominantly all the Goans preferred this Girgaum Thakurdwar area because some of our relatives had also settled down in Girgaum.
And that's when she got this opportunity she took this on rent somewhere in 1938 my grandmother. My father was about 9 or 10 years and he had his also schooling done here and his graduation from Siddharth College.
Girgaum, if you see the geography it is centrally located, South Mumbai, proximity of schools, railway station, buses and in this entire neighbourhood you know gives you a rustic feeling.
So we as Goans my parents who were... they got married here in the same house 1956 then my elder brother was born in '57 then me in '61 and my sister in '64, so since my birth I'm blessed to be in this house.
Schooling was from St. Xavier's High School which was again nearby
TN: Who all used to live here? When you were young?
NS: Oh, when we were young ours was a joint family, my parents, the three kids, three brothers.. brothers and sister then my grandmother's sister and her family, that is my father's maasi (maternal aunt) and his brother, his sister so all of us were there we had about 2 or 3 servants also, all family members, so 17-18 of us used to stay in this house.
Those days we had problem of water but today touch wood there's no problem of water. But Girgaum has it's own beauty and charm, schooling was near, even my son went to the same school.
My brother was also from St. Xavier's. I was in St Xavier's my son also was from St. Xavier's my sister's school was Queen Mary which is near Kennedy Bridge. So schooling and then I was in Jai Hind College for a year, then I did my engineering at Andheri.
but while the entire schooling ans college was happening Girgaum was very much culturally awake. In the sense...
TN: Is that one of the reasons why your family came here?
NS:Ya, ya, ya absolutely,
TN: So were they involved with culture from the beginning?
NS: Yes, Yes I'll tell you, because a number of singers, you see Goa has given to this country a number of classical singers like Tarabai Shirodkar, Kesarbai Kerkar, Mogubai Kurdikar, Anjanibai Malpekar, Anjanibai Lolekar.
Then in the instrumental players we had Sridhar Parsekar a violionist who used to stay at Thakurdwar. The music director Datta Ram in his documentary he has said 1940 - 42 when they first came, they came to Thakurdwar, Datta Ram, and he learnt from Pandharinath Nageshkar who was staying at Lamington Road.
So Nageshkar.. all of us were from Goa all my grandmother's contemporaries they had all come down from Goa and they were all in this in 1-2kms radius so music was happening and music was happening and it was like a competition specially during Ganeshotsav.(Ganesh Festival)
You see, Lokmanya Tilak started the first Sarvajanik Ganpati (Public Ganesh Festival) in the adjoining nane... in the adjoining lane ,Keshavji Naik chawl, and from there... it was for social awakening and cultural programmes, music programmes they used to be known as Jalsas, for fundraising or anything these Jalsas used to go on and there was no time limit.
Like if Savai Gandharva is performing at a particular place then there would be Beherebua at some other place, you know, I'm just giving examples. And they used to go on till 5 o'clock 6 o'clock and with the dudhwallahs (milkmen) all the Girgaumkars used to come home.
So specially in Ganeshotsav these classical programmes used to be held. Even it was there till I tell you the 80's because I remember Gangubai performing at Lamington Road in the early 80's thereafter you see the entire trend towards cultural activities changed and then they had all disco music and orchestra music etc. but classical was the hallmark for performances in Girgaum.
TN: So who all in your family were involved with the music scene?
NS: Ohhh...From my mother's side Vishnupanth Shirodkar he was the one who accompanied Kesarbai on the tabla, and all Kesarbai Kerkar's initial records, those 78 rpm's which were released somewhere in early 40's, had tabla by Vishnupanth Shirodkar. He had... I have learnt from my mother and maternal uncle that way back in 1910 or 1915 he accompanied Kathak artist Menakabai Sokhe to Germany
and his fingers were tested by the German people because of the uniqueness of the sound that he used to take out from the tabla. So Vishnupanth Shirodkar that is from my mother's side they were all staying at Laburnum Road and Kesarbai Kerkar used to stay in the same building on the second floor at Gamdevi.
And Alladiya Khan Saab used to stay at Babulnath with Gullubhai Jasdanwalla who was also his disciple, and he used to come in a buggy to give Kesarbai music lessons that is what I have heard.
Kesarbai's first set of 78 rpm records which was released she looked upon my mother as her daughter and she presented that entire set and I have it with me I will show those 78 rpm's which I have cherished all her classical raagas, 3 and 3 and a half minutes, I have converted them into a cassette... audio cassette but phenomenal.
You know for one raaga recording, I was told that she used to do riyaaz for three three months till that you know till that perfection is achieved.
TN: So your mother also was learning how to sing from Kesarbai?
NS: No, my mother never
TN: So what was the daughter- mother connection?
NS: Daughter-mother connection is that she my mother used to have... Kesarbai was very beautiful to look she maintained herself with dignity and poise whenever she used to sit my mother used to say she looked like Saraswati ( Goddess of Knowlegde & music) on the stage and the fan following that Kesarbai had but she used to sing at her own terms.
Each and every concert was backed up with tremendous riyaaz. Unless she was confident she would never perform, and there is a record that none of her performances because of bad voice or lack of tayaari (preparation) or just playing to the gallery she never believed in that.
And she looked upon my mother. You know my mother used to cook for her as a kid and she always used to like her cooking so here Kesarbai used to do riyaaz and here my mother used to do the cooking, help in the cooking
and whenever anything good would happen Kesarbai would call up my mother and say. In fact, when Rabindranath Tagore gave her the title Surashri my mother heard it on all All India Radio and she ran up to Kesarbai we used to call her Mai. My mother used to call her Mai.
I have also seen Kesarbai because Kesarbai passed away somewhere in 1977. I remember it was Ganesh Chaturthi and in my mama's (maternal uncle) house the Ganpati used to come and she had then gone to Dadar she had purchased the whole building at Dadar, Shivaji Park and we came to know she's not there.
So that year we didn't have Ganpati also in the 1977 I know [because she died]. So, when she told that you have been awarded Surashri by Rabindranath Tagore she says, "Yes, yes you are the first one to give me this good news." and she you know she used to dote on my mother a lot. Kesarbai.
TN: Do you remember your grandmother?
NS: Yes, I do remember both from my mother's side as well as my father's side.
TN: Tell us something about the two grandmothers.
NS: My grandmother from my father's side used to sing. From Goa she had gone to Hubli and Gangubai and my grandmother, then Nutan's mother Shobana Samarth they were all friends.
TN: Grandmother's name please?
NS: Chandrabai Shirodkar. We used to also call her Mai. So my grandmother used to sing and specially... she told me that I have learnt from Kha saa'b, Kha saa'b but the name I can't remember but I think her sister that is my grandmother's sister is still alive at Forjett Street now she's staying at Andheri with her son, Vasantibai Shirdokar she has learnt from Ustad Khaadim Husain Khan at Forjett street so some Kha saa'b must have because my grandmother was born in 1908 and she came here in 1938 at the age of 30.
But I remember her sweet voice, because she used to get up in the morning and sing those Bhupalis, those Bhupalis which were there you know Uthi Uthi Gopala and all that
and we used to remember and she used sing good bhajans also. From my mother's side the grandmother was basically a domestic housewife because that family with Vishnupanth Shirodkar and all musicians coming like Dattaram Parvatkar it was like free for all, so whole day it was like a Bhatiyar khaana in my Gamdevi house.
Everybody cooking and having only.. talk was only about music. Vishnupanth Shirodkar used to accompany Kesarbai as well as Mogubai Kurdikar also. I have been told by my mama (maternal uncle) that during one Ganpati, Kesarbai sang that Dashavtar arti in different, different raags and she sang it for one hour
and when Kesarbai was singing that arti that entire Laburnum Road people you know it was crowded just to hear her voice. Kesarbai never allowed anybody to record... music. She never allowed her music to be even played on All India Radio or Radio Ceylon.
She says, my music is not to be played by any Tom, Dick and Harry and specially the paanwala at the nukkad (street corner) mine is something great. Then there was a performance of Mogubai also at my grandmother's house, she sang I believe she sang a Maru Bihag and I have heard all this through my uncle because he was a music critic and he used to write in Marathi papers, my maternal uncle, under the pen name of Malkauns.
Kesarbai when she passed away in 1977 her first barsi (death anniversary) we had in our second floor flat in the same building which was then occupied by some Gujarati family Gandhi's and at that time the sarangi player with Kesarbai was Ustad Majid Khan.
He had trained his 2 sons both the unfortunately both the Khan bandhus are no more, one just died about a year back. Mohammed Sayeed Khan and Mohammed Rashid Khan. They did a jugalbandi in that house for Kesarbai's first barsi and they told us of an incident that Kesarbai was performing
(no video) And these Khan bandhus were young
as kids and there was a taan in which Kesarbai in Tilak Kamod and the elder of the Khan Bandhus said waah, "Kya Tilak Kamod se bach gaye."( We just managed to escape the Tilak Kamod) It was Bihari the raaga was Bihari which is very similar to Tilak Kamod and that taan was very similar to Tilak Kamod and he just said kya Tilak Kamod se bach gaye. Kesarbai stopped the performance and she changed the raag.
The next day it seems she called Majid Khan and he says if you want to hence forth accompany you will have to be my gandabandh shagird (disciple). Because by accompanying me, you are picking up all the nuances of my music and teaching your children which is not correct so you be my gandabandh shagird (disciple) then train.
That is how Khan saheb both Rasheed Khan and Saeed Khan started learning under the father on the sarangi. They were staying near Fellowship High School that Gowalia Tank (Gowalia) area.
TN: So he... Majid Khan became a shagird of Kesarbai?
Ya Majid Khan beacme the shagird of Kesarbai... did become.
TN: And when did Kesarbai started learning from Alladiya Khan? After coming to Bombay?
NS: I'll tell you when she came to... she was very much in Bombay, Kesarbai was very much in Bombay, she was in Gamdevi and she used to learn from Bhaskarbua Bakhle that is what is said in her biography or in her this thing.
But there was an incident which all our people say that she did a performance at the age of 12 or 13 and one of our singers, lady singers from Goa, commented that, "Kesar you are not yet upto the mark to sing. So you do riyaaz otherwise you will bring a bad name to our community." and she took it very personally.
And for 12 -13 years she was under Khansaab's [Alladiya Khan] taalim and it was nearly a 12- hour riyaaz everyday and after that I think she started performing... performance at the age of 40 or so 38-40 when she was 38 or 40
and she... her last performance was at... that Apte's bungalow where the present Woodland building is there on Pedder road, Kemp's Corner, that bungalow was to be demolished for that high rise Woodlands building and they had kept her programme so she publicly has announced that this is going to be my last performance, that was way back in 1964 and thereafter she didn't perform at all, till her passing away in 1977.
TN: So there are some other famous names in your family or rather the people in an extended way part of your family.
TN: Some other Shirodkars, we talked about Menakabai last time
NS: Ya, other Shirodkars ya other Shirodkars now for example my dad's uncle far off uncle was the famous gynec doctor V.N Shirodkar whose you know the Shirodkar stitch is very famous. They were all from, basically we were all from Goa.
Then next to Laxmi Baug we had a very famous entrepreneur, Dr. Sharayu Thakkar Shirodkar, she was a Sharayu Shirodkar, her mother was Champabai Shirodkar they have that whole building just adjoining Laxmi Baug in Girgaum and in those days she did a doctorate from UK.
She married Mr.Thakkar, Dr. Thakkar and then they are having their own business in chemicals. Good name.
TN: But they retain a connection to music?
NS: Ahhh.. not no that family no connection to music. Music lineage is from my maternal side, and to some extent from my grandmother's side.
SS: So what about this area that the community from Goa was coming here, what was happening in Girgaum at that time apart from ...
NS: In Girgaum you see, Savai Gandharva, as I learnt from Pandit Firoz Dastur was staying in Khetwadi. Abdul Karim Khansaheb's disciple. Pandit Savai Gandharva, and he has given taleem (training) to Dasturji at his residence in Grant Road. He used to come from Khetwadi okay.
That one incident I know then Abdul Karim Khan saheb's direct disciple Balakrishabua Kapileshwari started the Saraswati Sangeet Vidyalay at Lamington Road, we can go and see that board is still there, I think established in 1908 or 18 I don't know, don't recollect but that institution is there.
So Balkrishna Kapileshwaribua also started propagating music from there. Deodhar's class was there. Now Deodhar's class at Opera house was you know like a meeting place for everybody. Now Dattaram Parvatkar sarangi his son Ajit Parvatkar is a dear friend of mine and he tells me that on his first birthday now Ajit would be about 63-64 and on his first birthday it seems Ravi Shankar performed in Deodhar class with Ustad Ahmed Jan Thirakwa on the tabla.
So Deodhar's class also was a place, even Bade Ghulam Ali Khan saab's discovery has a classical singer, hitherto he was just a sarangi player in that Sangeet Kala Mandal at Congress House... opposite Congress House, from there he got Abdul Kareem... I mean Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khansaab to perform.
NS:That is why this was happening
TN: In Deodhar school right?
NS: Ya, now in this music director Dattaram's documentary which I have seen he has said that though I was learning from Pandharinath Nageshkar this Opera House theatre, dramas used to take place and in those dramas in the interval or between 2 acts there was live music being played.
Somebody would play the shehnai somebody would play the violin. somebody. So I started accompaning on the tabla there. Prior to that Shankar of Shankar Jaikishan used to do what, once I went there as a young boy I became a tabla player there and so story is of... they were all fascinated me in my childhood.
TN: So these dramas that you used to be performed at Opera House what language were they in?
NS: They were in Hindi - Prithvi Theatre's, Prithvraj Kapoor's. All dramas were performed at Opera House.
TN: So this is not Marathi Sangeet Natak or this is not...
NS: Marathi Sangeet Natak used to happen at Sahitya Sangha, this Charni Road station lane Kelewadi as it is called, Dr. Bhalerao Marg they used to happen there and I have seen musical dramas where the organ
kinva paipeti aapan jyala mhanto ti paipeti thithe vajavli jaychi aani Katyar Kaljat Ghusli che Vasantrao Deshpandanche jevdi prayog Sanghat jhalele aahet tyatle me sangeen 50 takke tari me paryog pahile aani kuthla hi prayog sade teen chaar taas nahi paach sade pach tass challaycha pratek padala once more gheun Vasantrao natak pudhe rangaviche. (Or what we call the organ that used to be played there and Vasantrao Deshapande's Katyar Kalijat Ghusli had all its shows in Sahitya Sangha and I have watched 50% of those shows. Each show would go on for 3-3 and a half no 5- 5 and a half hours and Vasantrao would get an encore for his part)
Then Daaji Bhatavdekar you know Mumbai Marathi Sangha.. Sahitya Sangha had their music drama...musical drama revival mahotsav (festival) and their Sanshay Kallol or Govind Bhallad Deval then your Maan Apmaan all these dramas used to happen of course with the new actor I have seen this Arvind Pilgaonkar perform in Sanshay Kallol. Daaji Bhatavdekar perform. So...
TN: So this is what in the 50's -60's? When? much later
NS: No I would say in the 70's revival of musical Marathi dramas. Otherwise how would my generation see.
TN: That's true
NS: So these musical dramas used to happen even now they happen do happen occasionally. Sahitya Sangha is doing that good job I would say.
TN: Was your guru Firoz Dastur, was he also acting in plays? Only in cinema?
NS: No he would never he only did it as a he... he started his career as a child artist with Wadia Movietone. Lal-e-Aman, Gul-E-Bakawali, Kaala gulab these were his films he...he was launched as a singing star at the age of 12 and he had a 4-5 years career and started learning classical and then towards the end... till the end the entire focus, the entire focus was on classical music.
TN: So you've also learnt from him? Tell us something about that experience?
NS: No experience you see it was like he used to train classical disciples you know my friend Girish Sanzgiri, Usha Deshpande, you know from morning till evening and he also had a job at the Mumbai University as a music teacher, and my fasicination for Panditji for his purity in singing was there so I used to go and wait for him while he was training inside for hours
and as far I was concerned when I approached to teach me he said your voice is not suitable now at this age this was in the say late 80's for classical taan's and all that so he says, you sing well you continue singing light music, film music and then you know we used... I used to sing and then he used to correct me and that is how the whole thing went for many many years.
TN: So you used to go to his house in Grant Road?
NS: Yes, I used to be at his house. It was our famous adda. Bakul Bhavsar a friend of mine whether it was Panditji's birthday or my birthday and used to go and he was a wonderful host, more than anything else great artist and I tell you a very fine human being. He used to always say that the greatest art is the art of fine living.
I used to ask him, Panditji what would you like to you know in next birth be?
Me sangto parmeshwarala mala ankhin kahi nako mala gavaya mhanun tar nako ha janma tar poore jhala as a gavaiya (I tell God that I don't want anything and I don't want to be a singer in my next life this life was enough as a singer)
He used to say he was a very simple man, a very nice man
TN: So he spoke both Marathi and Hindi?
NS: Ya, ya he used to speak very fluently in Marathi, very fluently in Marathi. He's come here many times to my house also. He was very fond of my son. He used to call him Pittu.
TN: So has he sung here?
NS: Ah no... Panditji has not performed in my house but he has performed for my institution and I have the video recording at Dadar Matunga Cultural Centre. You know our institution the Gomantak Maratha Samaj annually has a Kalakar Din (Artist Day) and
NS: we had that many programmes we've had at Purandhare Sabha Graha wherein we've had programmes of K.G Ginde, Tulsidas Borkar, Firoz Dastur, Nath Neralkar from Aurangabad, Srikanth Deshpande, Usman Khan Sitare from Poona and even young artists like Girish Sanzgiri, Prasad Khaparde to promote. We did
TN: You still do that?
NS: Ya we still do that annually. Last year this 2013...2012 Kalakar Din (Artist Day) featured an artist from Goa, Milind Raikar the vioilnist who accompanies Kishoritai these days, we had his programme too. Devaki Pandit has also performed for our Kalakar Din. Ajit Kadkade has, Meena Phatarphekar, Kishoritai has performed 'n' number of times for us, in fact Kishoritai programme we had
(no video) She has mad her own programme Tochi Nadu Suswar Jhala of Marathi bhajans and abhangs that she did...
NS: Ok, one more... one more memory I have, Deodhar's class was very famous for classical music right? Shyam Gogate used to be there as a harmonium teacher, I have learnt for one year at Deodhar class, basic harmonium.
There was another in Rajabahadur Bansilal building called Damle's Sangeet Kalabhavan, now in that bulding there were musicians like Vatsalabai Parvatkar she was there, a singer, Dattaram Parvatkar sarangi player was in that building, then next to that building was a building called Trikam House.
Trikam house had accompaning artists like Mashelkar then there was a vocalist Sitaram Phatharphekar of the Agra gharana he used to stay there. Then another tabla player used to stay in Mangalwadi by the name of Gurudas Borkar.
TN: They are all Goans, I think?
NS: All Goans, all Goans from our community and that is why this was a happening hub. You know you go down and I used to go with my grandmother and all and they used to bump into artistes. Send this boy I'll teach him. Pandharinath Nageshkar wanted to teach tabla but it never happened though I had the opportunity.
Because you see, those days were different because they were dedicated to pursuing that art but I'm fortunate to have been associated with all these artistes I have seen. I have seen I...unfortunately I never got to see Kesarbai perform but yes, I did hear Mogubai and Kishori at Rang Bhavan. when Sajan Milap used to have the Gharana Sammelan. I did hear her.
I heard Amir Khan Saab once but fine... good memories... quite nostalgic
TN: How do you, how would you talk about their music? These are obviously important memories that you have. What attracted you about their music?
NS: Their music...
NS: You see their, I tell you what attracted me was you know basically I loved music right from my school days and college days and well... you know Kirana gaayaki... though Jaipur Atrauli gaayaki from my mother's side like Kesarbai it was a very complex style of singing very difficult to learn, but I found that Kirana gaayaki was very, you know appealing and Gangubai being from Hubli, my wife is from Hubli and she stays in Deshpande Nagar and she stays in Vishveshwar Nagar.
Gangubai knew my grandmother by first name then Bhimsenji also learnt from Savai Gandharva. Gangubai, Bhimsen and Firoz Dastur all guru, bandhu, bhagini and Firoz Dastur is the... I found him to be the purest you know, very much similar or as good singing as the original Abdul Karim Khan saab. So I liked his personality, his voice, so and obviously then you know the what you can say... asa vatla ki hi gayaki (I felt that this singing) he's something close to my heart. Dasturjinchi ( Dasturji's)
SS: Your bracelet if you can just push up...no down
NS: Up? down
NS: Okay it's making a noise
TN: I also want to know what stories Pandit Dastur would have told you about his own teacher Savai Gandharva?
NS: Yes, he said that when he started learning from Savai Gandharva. Savai Gandharva started his training with Bhairavi... Firoz Dastur. Firoz Dastur's mother was a sacrificing woman and that entire Grant Raod, Khetwadi area during the monsoons, even today... even today you have knee deep water, one spell and there is knee deep water.
Savai Gandharva used to come to teach Panditji at his house because they had a very big house, his father, Dasturji's father, had a billiards table on the first floor and his mother used to be there. Dasturji's mother doted on Pandit Firoz Dastur a lot and she was the one who was encouraging him to learn from Savai Gandharva. It so happened that one day Savai Gandharvaji said that I'm coming and it was raining cats and dogs. One hour passed, two hours passed she was all the time going into the balcony to see whether from Khetwadi she can see Savai Gandharva coming
and after about one and a... after two hours she saw a man wading through knee-deep water trying to protect his dhoti from the rain with that umbrella and he came home and the taalim (training) started. She offered him a towel to dry himself and the taalim started right in earnest. Panditiji says, that I went into the kitchen to see what my mother was doing and Savai Gandharva's wet leather slippers were being dried on the tava (on the pan) jya tavyavar ti chapatya karaichi majhi aai tya tavyavar ti guruji che chappala ti sukhvat hoti (The same pan that my mother used to make rotis that same pan pan was being used to dry guruji's slippers) karan tila vatat hota ki gurujinchya chappla jar olya rahilya tar tyana taap beep aala tar udya majhi taalim chukel, hey majhya aaine majhya saathi keleli sacrifice te me visru shakat nahi te guruji chya babtit keleli. (She felt if guruji's slippers remained wet he would get a fever and I would miss my training the next day, this is what my mother did for me I can never forget this sacrifice.)
This is one incident he used to always tell us.
TN: How long did he learn from Savai Gandharva?
NS: Exact I wouldn't be able to tell you, but at least it would be at least 9 to 10 years definitely.
TN: So he used to come to Khetwadi and stay there all the time?
TN: He was living in Poona also performing then he went back to Kundgol
TN: So how many raags do you think Pandit Dastur would have learnt in those 9 to 10 years?
I have heard him sing so many raags so it's very difficult, now Bhimsen has quantified. Bhimsenji has quantified that 4 raags were taught, maximum taalim Gangubai could get because Gangubai was the eldest and she was in that vicinity.
TN: and she used go to Kundgol all the time.
NS: But.... see Firoz Dastur was born on 30th September, 1919 correct ? He started his film career as a 12 year (old) that is in 1931, for another 5 years till 1936. Savai Gandharva passed away in 1952 and prior to his passing away he was bed ridden for nearly 8 to 9 years so in between 36-37 to 42-43 those 6-7 years Dasturji must have got logically got taalim (training) from Savai Gandharva.
TN: And only in Bombay I think?
NS: Ya only in Bombay
TN: He never went to Kundgol or anywhere?
NS: No, I don't think so. I don't think so. It was only in Mumbai.
TN: And by that time Savai Gandharva had stopped acting on the stage I think?
NS: Ya, I think he had suffered a paralytic stroke, Savai Gandharva, and he never recovered from that.
TN: So did you hear everything about his performances with Hirabai Barodekar?
NS: No, I didn't...
TN: if famous plays/place?
NS: He used to only tell me. Panditji used to only tell me ke Saraswatibai and Hirabai used to perform a jugalbandi and he says that Hirabai was not so good to look at, but when she used to start performing he says, I have seen her perform at Laxmi Baug and as the alaapi started and the antara (verse) started he says, I saw like a Saraswati a halo a glow coming around her so twice he says in disbelief I rubbed my eyes,
ki me barobar bhagtoy ki nahi pan te valay evdha hot gela aani aksharsha Saraswati sarkhi disli, awaaz atishay sundar hota... Hirabaicha (Whether I see it correcty but the halo around her became big and she looked exactly like Saraswati (Goddess of knowledge & music) her voice was beautiful... Hirabai's) and that is how he used to talk about Hirabai and Saraswatibai.
TN: This is Saraswatibai Rane?
NS: Saraswatibai Rane her sister and he was in absolute awe of Amir Khan Saheb. He says Amir Khan Sahibanchi gayaki mhanje ti atishay katheen (Amir Khan Saheb's singing is very diffcult) self-made and he was always in awe and he would never miss a programme of Amir Khan Saab in Mumbai.
At the same time he says that he was in, he always fascinated by Fayyaz Khan Saheb's singing also, though it was a Agra gayaki but he said that nom-tom and alaapi that Fayyaz Khan used to do was something unique it never sounded harsh he says, I loved to do it and sometimes, in his in one or two of his programmes when we Panditji's programme, Dasturji's programme we requested him to do some alaapi like Fayyaz Khan and he has done that nom-tom, that recording I do have.
He liked that. He used to always pick up whatever is good of Amir Khan Saheb must have (not clear). But he was absoulutely perfect like a carbon copy of Abdul Karim Khan Saab's Jamuna Ke Teer if you hear that record...if you have heard that record and if you hear Panditji's Jamuna Ke Teer you will not be able to differentiate that much akin or for that matter that Thumri in Sarparda Bilawal, Gopala Mori. Mastery
TN: So who has he passed on his gayaki to? Who are his biggest disciples?
NS: Oh he has passed on...No, no I tell you he's got many disciples many many disciples, currently Girish Sanzgiri is there to... He has taught as I know there was... there is Achyut Abhyankar in Thana, the senior-most, then there is Sudha Divekar in at Shivaji Park.
Girish Sanzgiri is there, Shrikant Deshpande Savai Gandharva's grandson has also learnt from him, Milind Chittal then that... female singer she's a linguist I've forgotton her name. Arvind Apte was there after Dr. Ashok Tulpule as his disciple, Usha Deshpande, Balasaheb Tikekar's daughter, she has also picked up his gayaki in fact she has got a book of his bandishis, hand written bandishis, she has written it down. Many and many students who have learnt from him at the Mumbai University.
But Girish Sanzgiri and Achyut Abhyankar -there's a prodigy, Achyut Abhyankar's disciple Pranav Patwardhan, he is a child prodigy, sings beautiful. You can see Dastur you can see Bhimsen, you can see the full Kirana gharana in Pranav's Patwardhan's singing at a very tender age.
TN: How old is he?
NS: Now currently he's pursuing medicine but I heard him when he was 7 or 8 years Pranav... I can show you his video also. So Dasturji's musical legacy is going on.
TN: And does it sound different from Gangubai or Bhimsen?
TN: What would be the difference?
NS: It is very much similar to the original Abdul Karim Khan Saab gayaki.
TN: Tell us something now about the perfomances you used to go to everything right? And the different spaces where the performances used to happen in Girgaum itself or even otherwise? (no video)
( No video)
(no video) NS: Laxmi Baug was a very popular venue, in fact we felicitated Panditji, we formed... three friends Girish Sanzgiri, his disciple, Bakul Bhavsar and myself we found Bhartiya Sangeet Sabha
to felicitate Panditji on his 75th and 80th birthday. The 75th birthday programme we had Laxmi Baug where Gangubai, Bhimsen and Firoz Dastur were on the same stage but they didn't sing, they talked about each other. They talked about their gurus, they talked about their gayaki, they talked about each other very nicely. I have that audio also.
Then the 80th programme, 80th birthday also we had at Dadar Matunga Cultural Centre where Rashid Khan had performed. Between Gangubai, Bhimsenji and Firoz Dastur I have never seen such camaraderie in any musical gharana, never competition, never jealousy always in love and awe of each other.
TN: I think Dasturji passed away before Bhimsen right?
NS: Yes, Dasturji passed away on 9th May 2008.
TN: Ah.. I remember Bhimsen saying in the newspapers that now everyone has gone and only he remains.
TN: Tell us something that you have heard about the performances in Laxmi Baug, Brahman Sabha, what was the nature of the performances what kind of people used to come and listen to the music?
NS: Ah...absolute music lovers, die hard music lovers
TN: Both men and women?
NS: Men and predominantly men, women in I would say in minority and they would come woh waah muh se nikalne ke liye woh gayaki aise honi hi chahiye thi
( to get appreciation the singing would have to be of a certain kind)
and I used to observe, like now Sitaram Phatarphekar is there, then that Sahastrabuddhe is there. They would come and sit, they would come 10 -15 minutes after the programme would start and then I would see, I saw Ustad Amir Khan Saab acknowledging or Bhimsenji or Anjanibai Lolekar acknowledging their come then everybody would see now... how the gayaki or how the singing will change so more than... at that age I was not understand(ing) music but I would see how these people are reacting.
Or aisi hi ek taan jaye to phir ( If there was a taan) Just when there was a Sitaram Parvatkar would look at Sahastrabuddhe and that fellow would look up at the ceiling like that and then the artist would be a little worried ke bhai kya hua kya nahi aisa (what happened and what not, like that )
TN: So young... children also used to go and listen?
TN: Children also used to go and listen to the music, like yourself?
NS: Ya we used to go, we were... I was in my. I was 19-20 years it used to be good... great fun great fun.
TN: So do you think people of all ages used to go and listen to the music?
NS: Ya all ages, all ages, all ages
TN: Okay, is that the same today?
SS: Only people from the neighbourhood or from everywhere?
NS: People would come, people would come from Dadar also. Like Dr. Krishna Joshi used to come from Dadar if there was a programme of Firoz Dastur. No the die hard fans wherever the music programme was there they would go and there were very familiar faces. I remember having every programme in and around Girgaum. Sahastrabuddhe, Batuk Divanji the critic, Ramesh Merchant owner of Kalyan Buildings all would be there.
TN: And how often would the programmes happen?
NS: At least I would say once in two months, once in two months programmes...
TN: All night programmes?
NS: Ya, sometimes all night sometimes it used to start at 6 o'clock and go on till 12 o'clock that time there were no restrictions no. Kumar Gandharva used to... Kumar Gandharva also I have heard in Laxmi Baug.
SS: You had spoken about times when Brahman Sabha and Laxmi Baug...
NS: Ha, that is what Dasturji has told ke this thing that he told me, ki (that) his guru Savai Gandharva apparently before a performance would take a lot of time for his you know gala taapaila ( to warm up his throat) and the kharaj mehnat he used to prefer to do it in the wash room and there he used to kharaj mehnat
and then when Savai Gandharva would start then there would be some other artiste in Brahman Sabha, and then there were these runners who would come and give ke aata tikade that artistcha Pancham laglela aahe (that artist is now singing the Pancham) and ikade aata (now here) Savai Ganharva is about to take off so all of them would come to Laxmi Baug and vice versa asa sagla hoiche (this is what used to happen) aani sakali doodhwalya barobar aamhi ghari jaiche ( and we would go home with the milkman)
SS: Did your own mother learn music as well? or no
SS: So she didn't sing either?
NS: No, no
SS: But amongst your other aunts and cousins and
NS: Nobody, nobody they are all Aurangzebs.
SS: Just to retrace back to the begining... the set of questions that Teju asked, what was happening at that time where the communities moving from Goa to Bombay, why is everyone coming to Bombay? What is it about Bombay that's bringing or what is happening in Goa that is...
NS: Ha that time, I'll tell you I'll tell you. You see, the audience for their programmes, or even disciples... See Goans basically are very lethargic there's a word in Portugese, susegad ( laidback) Saam ke susegad. Eh rao re maagir karuya. ( Hey, let it be, let's do it later) So nobody is interested was interested that much in learning in Goa so whatever they had learnt from their gurus, they wanted to come and give it here. Bombay had lot of opportunities in those days.
TN: Didn't they also...
NS: If Kesarbai would have been in Goa who would have heard her of Kesarbai?
TN: No but they also got gurus in Bombay isn't it?
NS: No they were not...
TN: In Goa they were not able to get all the...
NS: Ya exactly, exactly
TN: the major Ustads to teach them
NS: Kesarbai came here and that is how she found Bhaskarbua Bakhle or Ustad Alladiya Khan Saab, same with Mogubai you follow
TN: So the community as a whole would move? Or families, groups?
NS: Families, families, groups that is how that migration took place because this was a land of opportunity for them and those who would appreciate the kala... their art
TN: So by 1930's is when they started moving?
NS: ya, ya this all started, ya from 1918 - 30 in that era, they all came here.
TN: So one the one hand their recordings would happen here, they would get access to new gurus
NS: Yes, yes
TN: They would get better taalim (training), they would get better audiences
NS: Yes, Yes
NS: Why even from Karnataka, the artists came down to Bombay like Malikarjun Mansur his popularity soared after he started performing very much in Mumbai, Bombay
TN: Gangubai, Gangubai also
NS: Even Gangubai
SS: So who are the bigwigs in the audience at that time? Who are making this place to come to who were the big patrons?
NS: We had, we had sangeet sabhas (music gatherings) in Girgaum, one Trinity Club is a very old institution for promoting Indian classical music, they have a small premises and any and everybody wanted to come and sing they had, he had access to that place and he could go and sing there Trinity Club that was one place. Deodhar's classes used to organise programmes for their annual days, then this the tabla player that Aban Mistry and Sapal Jijina they have their...
TN: Swar Sadhana Samiti
NS: Ha, Swar Sadhana Samiti at Dobhi Talao or so. They have their annual programme here at Purandhare so many years in that Sahitya Sangh building, third floor, Swar Sadhana Samiti. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan still has their annual programme somewhere in March or April at Bhavan's. So this is how it used to happen and then as music became popular and all that then Xavier's did, then Nilima Kilachand formed that Sajan Milap . Sajan Milap also started doing these gharana sammelans.
SS: Ya the Kilachand family's house seems to be also an important place where baithaks happened?
NS: Ya, in their... at their residence Nilimaben Kilachand's residence many baithaks I have attended.
TN: Where is this?
NS: NepeanSea Road and...
TN: Does... that still happen?
NS: She used to have every Sunday evening programme at the Geeta Mandir hall in Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, third floor, but the patronage was towards the Agra gharana, lesser known, upcoming artistes, that Sajan Milap has done a lot for upcoming artistes.. music artistes.
TN: So the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Sunday evening still happens?
NS: Could be happening. I was a member for many years and I used to get those blue colour postcards. Nice place it was.
(no video) NS: Geeta Mandir hall third floor.
NS: This is that first set of broadcasts - HMV. See the cover also has the logo of HMV, and in those days these rexine bound cardboard boxes. This is something which I have kept, Kesarbai's records.
SS: what we'll do when you are speaking we'll keep the music off and then after you finish speaking we'll....
NS: It seems when you hear the Jaunpuri of Kesarbai that when she you know... the sargam tip lavtat na Shadja that and the tanpura impeccable.. impeccable what you say
NS: So all these records of Kesarbai it has come down from my mother to me it's a legacy and I you know, I have treasured it though I have converted it into cassette and now I'm going to digitise it also. HMV subsequently took out an LP but it didn't cover most of the raags in this LP.
TN: How many raags did she sing in this format?
NS: There are two- two raags so there are I think totally something like 18-19 raags are there. There is Lalat, Jaunpuri, Puriya Dhanashree, Maand, Gauri, Lalita Gauri, Suha Kanada, Kafi Kanada.
TN: And what year would the recordings have been done?
NS: Somewhere in the 40's
NS: This was all in the 40's
TN: All recorded here in Bombay?
NS: Ya, all recorded very much in Bombay
TN: Where were the studio's?
NS: HM... I think HMV studio was at .... Pheroze Shah Mehta Road, Flora Fountain somewhere. I'm not too sure about that, but these... these were the records and my mother always told me that this was the oldest record, you know this, the Broadcast company there is no where the this thing... and you know it is interesting it is written as Bai Kesarbai, Kafi Kanada, Bombay, Hindi song. Not classical, it's called Hindi song.
TN: And what year is that? Can you see?
NS: There is no year written on these records unfortunately.
TN: But from listening to the voice you can tell that it's older than this.
NS: Ya, this, this according to my mother was somewhere in 1945, Broadcast Company. These are the two records of Broadcast Company. These are the 12 inch 78 rpm's of Kesarbai and these are the 78 rpm's but they were called the 9 inch discs. This had a raag for almost 5 minutes and these for 3 and a half minutes, now this Kesarbai Kerkar's this thing is Puriya Dhanashree.... and this Multani. So all these records I have just preserved them. I don't know when I'll get a chance to hear them again? But I have recorded them I can make you hear the audio cassettes.
NS: I had a player and when that player was in working condition I did transfer at that time I didn't have a mixer or anything so directly playing the record putting a microphone and just recording it on cassette, somewhere you can hear.
NS: Then these are some fond memories. I have some photographs, some old articles pertaining to Kesarbai and all these people and this was this artist I referred to earlier, in Trikam House next to that Damle Sangeet Kala Bhavan, he was a exponent of the Agra gharana, Sitaram Phatarphekar. So when he...
TN: He was the violinist?
NS: No no, he was a singer Sitaram Phatarphekar and when he passed away this was in 1982 when he passed away. He used to be very popular, his presence used to be very popular, he was a critic well-known critic and a singer, so when you talk to Balasaheb tomorrow perhaps Balasaheb can throw light on this artist also. So this is the obituary to Kesarbai, this is how she looked. This is her famous photograph, of Kesarbai always in white and a pearl necklace which had a diamond pendant with an emerald, that was the only thing and she used to wear diamond kudis (earrings). So this is an article on Kesarbai on her passing away by my mama (maternal uncle) and this is another article which was published on Kesarbai after she got the Surashri, in Navakaal.
TN: And your mama's (maternal uncle) name was?
NS: Manohar Shirodkar
TN: But he used Malkauns?
NS: Malkauns was the pen-name under which he used to write and this is one photograph which I very much cherish. This is Panditji's 70th birthday at Laxmi Baug. 75th birthday, and you can see in the background Bhimsenji, Gangubai, Firoz Dastur
Malini Rajurkar had performed, Rashid had performed. It was a day long programme
TN: The organisers are in the front
NS: Ya, the organisers are in the front. This is a photograph of you know what Baithak's that used to happen I can show you this Bhimsenji's performance at Manseta's house at Gamdevi. Ya, this is one of the photographs, Bhimsenji singing in a house baithak. He has done many such baithaks in Mumbai, many, specially at the residence of the Khimjis. Kakubai Khimji and Mahindra Khimji - since I have been attending since 1983, two programmes in a year were fixed, one in January and somewhere in June- July at the residence of Khimji's, Bhimsenji used to perform.
TN: So how did it work in terms of the economic factor? If someone did a baithak were they doing it was a friend? Was it for money?
NS: It was... no it was basically out of friendship the commercial aspect came much much later in the 90's Bhimsenji and all the artist's were prior to 90's very easily accessible very very easily accessible including Raviji.
TN: No, but if they sang in someone's house there would be at least some gift that is given by the family right?
NS: Ya that token. Ya that, that felicitation used to be there but you know that was not the...
TN: not the reason
NS: one of the reasons it used to be purely out of love. I have never seen Panditji demand. Pandit Firoz Dastur demand I want a particular fee to perform. No never, never.
TN: And whenever people went to listen to music did they ever pay? Did the audience ever pay to listen to music?
NS: Ya, there used to be tickets which used to be very affordable in annas.
TN: In Laxmi Baug or...
NS: Ya ya, very very affordable, 8 annas (half a rupee) , 4 annas ( 25 paise) and that is what the ticket used to be.
NS: And mostly if you were a member of these Sangeet Sabhas then the invitation would be there to their members. You have to just take a postcard and go there and attend the programme, it used to be like that.
TN: So the whole idea of sponsorship and corporates is later is it?
NS: That came later much later. Britannia started I think the sponsorship of the Indian Music group at Xavier's college and since then sponsorship has come in a very big way and thereafter the classical music went beyond the reach of the common man.
TN: From the 90's
NS: Ya, from the 90's. But in a way it is good because the artist you know whole life they have been struggling and what were they getting as remuneration? Pittance. This Ganesh utsav and all were giving them 500 and 1000 rupees. I remember that when we celebrated the Suvarna Mahotsav ( Golden Jubilee) of our Gomantak Maratha Samaj. We had a three day... two day programme at Sahitya Sangha. The artist were Kumar Gandharva, Vasantrao Deshpande and Shoba Gurtu and of course Kishoritai
NS: I think Kumar Gandharva and Vasantrao Dehspande were paid hardly 1500 rupees that is somewhere in 1978, very accessible to have artistes because at that time 1000 -1500 rupees was easy... easily manageable between a couple of friends.
TN: So when the... all the artistes started moving here from the early 20th century to later they obviously were looking for some form of patronage?
NS: Yes, Yes
TN: So how did they survive? Was it through teaching and performances, or were there some other
NS: Through performances
TN: and recordings
NS: and there were these fans, there was... Kesarbai had a lot of Gujarati fan following, the Bhatias and all that. They were bestowing gifts sheerly for the brilliance that Kesarbai was. This royalty and all that came subsequently. I remember that for our fund raising of our Gomantak Maratha Samaj we had Jalsa's.
Jalsas were done by Mogubai Kurdikar, Anjanibai Lolekar, Anjanibai Malpekar and Surashri Kesarbai Kerkar, these 4 artistes, we had acknowledged it in our building in our hall at Lamington Road and these Jalsas took place somewhere in the mid 40's to 50's and the collection in terms of rupees was displayed. Kesarbai's Jalsa fetched us the maximum which was 7000 plus followed by Mogubai and Anjanibai Malpekar and Anjanibai Lolekar.
TN: No, so with inflation how much money would that be today?
NS: Oh, 7000 in 1946 today I would say equivalent to 7 crores, easily 7 crores (70 million)
TN: And today you need 7 crores to build your building na?
NS: I tell you, I''ll tell you why because in 1964 when we took the building the then Chief Minister of Goa Dayanand Bandodkar gave us a single donation of 40,000 so the building was purchased at 40,000 in 1964. When we sold the building in 2003 we got 1 crore (10 million) so you can do the correlation.
TN: So did the gramaphone companies pay the artiste well? or was it a new kind of exposure, why did they...
NS: There is a book, there has been one, there has been one gentleman by the name of G.N Joshi who was associated with HMV for a very very long time and thereby, he used to arrange these cutting of discs and he was very popular with Bhimsenji, Kesarbai and all these, and he used to actually prod and tell them, request them to come and cut a disc and he's written a book Memories Down Melody Lane and his experience with all these artistes. They were paid good but then some artistes like Kesarbai you know were very whimsical - they didn't allow for these records to be played on All India Radio as well as Radio Ceylon. The only medium that time to make an artist popular, so how would they become popular? Is by performing
(No video) and performance. The first launch was Ganeshotsav, then through these organisations, baithaks and then conferences. Calcutta conference, Banaras conference, Jalandhar conference, Lahore conference like that.
TN: So the artist did travel all over India and perform.
NS: Yes, yes in fact if you see Bhimsenji's biography Swarabhaska.. Swaradiraj in that on the last page there is the map of India and there are those red spots. He's the only artist who has performed even in mosfussil areas you've not heard the place, the village and he has gone and performed. He was, he was a trendsetter and aptly he has deserved the Bharat Ratna.
TN: But people do say that without the gramaphone records the Hindustani music could not have not have become as popular
NS: Yes, yes I tell you when you see the documentary of Abdul Karim Khan Saab way back in 1935... way back in 1909 he has cut a disc. 1909 can you imagine and Bhimsen said it's only when he heard Abdul Karim Khan Saab's record that he developed the urge and he ke sikhna... and he said that in that interview
TN: No Gangubai also says that
NS: So he was a revolutionary Abdul Karim Khan Saab and all his recordings happened somewhere in 35, the ones which are there here available, Abdul Karim Khan Saab and he passed away immediately thereafter. I think in '39 or '40 whatever [he died in 1937].
TN: Do you have any idea whether your family used to buy records or what kind of people who bought the records?
NS: Yes, yes I have bought many records, my father used to always present me with records.
TN: I'm thinking about an older generation. Who was the market for these records? Who was buying them?
NS: Well, in my house, other than this my mama (maternal uncle) used to buy. And he had that gramaphone with that handle, one 78 rpm, and you know the box of pins used to be there, metallic box, you have to go and put that pin and they used to take utmost care of these records. And once the LP and all started I had the Phillips turntable and the Garrard changer. My father was that way was very obliging, he gave me all those gifts and he gave me the pocket money to buy these records, and we used to always wait for the sale... clearance sale at Rhythm House.
NS: So you buy... when normally one record would cost about 50 rupees, when they had a clearance sale you get for 100 rupees, 3 LPs, that's the time I used to go and buy all my classical records of Bhimsenji and all. So I broke the ice with Bhimsen, there's a photograph of mine in 1982 wherein I went with all the records to tell Bhimsen that I'm your great fan and I want to learn from you and he obliged me by signing each and every record that I had carried that day.
This photograph of mine with Bhimsenji is on 17th April 82 at the Indian Merchants' Chambers of Commerce where he had gone to perform. So I had carried all his records, this Abhang vani, Purvi and all that, and he did sign and give if you see. With me was my friend Sudhir Joshi - and absolutely an unassuming person Bhimsenji was - and because of Bhimsenji then I came in touch with Firoz Dastur and all the...
TN: So did you speak in different languages to different eminent singers?
NS: No, with Panditji we should be talking in Marathi, with Firoz Dastur talk with him Gujarati
TN: That's Pandit Bhimsen?
NS: Kemcho Panditiji, su khabar aaje su khaadu? ( How are you Panditji, what did you eat today? Nai dikra aaje toh main khaali omlette khadu che ( No son, I have only had an omelette today) Maru Purshottam gaav gayo che ne bey divas, shu karech pettu?
(Purshottam had gone to his village for 2 days, what are you up to, pettu?)
This is how Dastur used to talk. We used to talk in Gujarati
TN: But you also said he was very fluent in Marathi so you would often speak in Marathi
NS: Ya, he used to talk to me in Marathi also, Firoz Dastur
TN: and the singers from your community, would you use Konkani with them?
NS: No, Marathi
TN: You speak in Marathi, no Konkani at all, never?
NS: No when we used to be backstage and all we used to talk in Konkani
TN: Ah, I see
NS: And they would talk to us in Konkani, but Kishoritai doesn't talk Konkani, she talks in Marathi and English.
TN: And Gangubai?
NS: Gangubai used to talk in Marathi
TN: Really? So no one spoke Kannada to her
NS: No Kannada - Bhimsenji and Gangubai talked to my wife in Kannada
NS: Bhimsenji whenever he used to come from a tour of North and he used to have that craving for idli and upma he used to phone home and talk to my wife and then he would say ...and I would carry to this Sion where he used to stay, or Parel where he used to be put up by Bakul Bhavsar.
NS: I'm blessed Bhimsenji has come to this place. When my father passed away he did come to meet my mother. Dasturji has come here. So would you like to hear some Kesarbai which I have transferred from 78
TN: That would be very nice, yes.
NS: Just make you hear, 3- 3 and a half minute recordings are there
TN: Can you play us the Malkauns?
NS: Malkauns, ya certainly. It's on side B I'll tell you ha 1,2,3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22.
22 raags are there in all these LPs. You want to hear the Malkauns
NS: This is Kafi Kanada, so just before Kafi Kanada.
NS: This is Gaud Malhar. Maane Na kariye. That no... This the end, after this is Malkauns.
TN: (not audible)
NS: Now will be Malkauns.
NS: ah ha
NS: Kya baat hai
NS: What breath control
NS : Finish. This is Kafi Kanada
NS: I'll show you this documentary jhalak (glimpse) of Abdul Karim Khan Saab
TN: So there were lot of people from your community were doing Jaipur, Agra, thorougly or Kirana what was it? what was..Was there any preference?
NS: No, no Kesarbai was from Jaipur, Agra
TN: No there was no preference for...
NS: No, no preference
TN: Everyone I mean most people did everything
NS: Whichever gayaki they liked they pursued
SS: That the recording of the felicitation at Laxmi Baug would that be on CD or ?
NS: No it's also on casette
NS: You want to hear that a little.
SS: Ya, ya that also would be great
NS: Ok I'll try to locate the casette
SS: If you can
TN: Who made this documentary?
NS: Meena Phatarphekar has done it
TN: Ha ha ( Yes, Yes) okay, okay I was trying to remember if that is the right name.
( Film playing on TV)
NS: 1935. See your Malkauns has again started even Abdul Karim Khan Saab is favourite..likes Malkauns. I have to sit here. I thought it's over
( Music from the documentary film playing on TV )
NS: This is Savai Gandharva on the left. Baiherebua
NS: Arya Sangeet...
NS: Here Bhimsen.
NS: If you hear our Panditji sing - Dasturji - the Lalat and this Lalat absolutely same
TN: Can you play that for us?
NS: Lalat I have a video...
TN: Or any raaga
NS: ya ya of Dasturji
NS: I'll show you the video of Dastur singing Lalat.
NS: Bhavanda Yaranda.
See this is what I wanted to show you on Lamington Road, this board.
NS: Should I stop this? Should I show you Dasturji?
NS: Rain ka Sapna.
NS:Close your eyes and you can see Abdul Karim Khan Saab
TN: Their voice quality is slightly different... but gayaki
NS: The gayaki. This is never seen in Bhimsenji's singing.
TN: No but, he has many masters
NS: Very sweet and soothing...
and as I told you that child prodigy Pranav Patwardhan uski bhi jhalak aapko dikhata hoon ( I will show you a glimpse of him too) and coincidentally that is also a morning concert, so this raaga and his Miyan Ki Todi will gel. Ok so we will see Pranav.
NS: We had called this programme The Young Maestros of Kirana gharana, so we had Jayteerth Mevundi, this guy, Sandipan Samajpati, Kumar Mardur all perform on one day at Xavier's. This guy was the best.
NS: Same, Rain ka sapna, Lalat. This is Bhimsen
TN: You said he's singing Miyan Ki Todi
NS: No, I thought
NS: I think the second drut he has sung it is Miyan Ki Todi drut
NS: I think he was 11 or 12 years old
NS: This is his guru Abhyankar... Achyut Abhyankar right in front
TN: Playing tanpura? No.. this gentleman sitting in front?
NS: Ya, that gentleman sitting with the coat no jacket, white Achyut Abhyankar
TN: and he's Dasturji's student?
NS: Ya he is Dasturji's student
NS: I'll just forward it you can see the taans
SS: So you know all the people you've spoken about, we have a mix of people from all regions and you know all kinds of backgrounds. Do you feel that over the years the shift has.. become... in the Hindustani classical scene especially in Bombay has become far more Maharashtrian middle class Brahmin? over the years or is that a trend that one can't see?
NS: No it is not like that, it is not like that, today you have everybody into music, basically the thing is that these gurus they struggled, they have made a name for themselves. The generation which is there is having everything on a platter, you follow? The gurus are available so whether it is a middle class Maharashtrian or everybody wants to pursue music irrespective... of caste, creed, economic background or anything, because it is now accessible you have now so much of media, so much of availability of music on the net.
NS: Ha the.... as far as Pranav is concerned he's a spark. He's a 12 year old guy and he's taking the training in the what you say guru shishya parampara, he's fortunate that his guru is there - an accomplished guru, it's a different story. He's pursuing medicine. At last year Panditji's barsi (death anniversary) we had his programme and he sang equally well. Now similarly Bhimsenji's student Anand Gandharva, Anand Bhate he's an engineer himself, he's an IT professional. So at a young age if you get the right guru and you perform... you know you pursue that, then in today's competitive ...you know you can't have this as a career.
SS: No I meant more in terms of, for example, would you imagine a young Parsi boy learning Hindustani classical like Firoz Dasturji?
NS: Why not Penaz Masani is an example. Penaz Masani has learnt music under Jaydev and she's an accomplished ghazal singer. So no longer, music is no longer the domain of Maharastrians or Gujaratis, you have seen such wonderful talent even in Roop Kumar Rathod today, he has learnt from his father.
Gujarati gentleman, but classical music has to be the basis for you to blossom as an accomplished artiste whether you are singing light, whether you are singing ghazal, whether you are singing thumri. The training in classical music - that foundation makes a lot of difference and by the grace of God Hindustani classical music has a long life gurus, gurus, gurus and shishyas are all doing it - in the younger generation also you're seeing artistes like Veena Sahasrabuddhe and Prabha Atre... have brought out so many.
Why Jasraji has got Sanjeev Abhyankar. C.R Vyas has got Sanjeev Chimmalgi they in turn are training disciples. Girish Sanzgiri, Dasturji though he is working as a professional in a telcom company in his time he's giving classical lessons Usha Deshpande is also and irrespective from younger generation to the... you should see the Raikar academy of violin he has got nearly 35 students.
He says my eldest student is 72 years and youngest is 3 years old learning the violin. So as long as this tradition of classical music will go on we'll be blessed and music is such that it has to come from within, that spark has to be kindled, right moment should come.
Mala Dastur sangat hote ki jehva tujya kade chane hote tehva daat navte, aani tujhya kade aata daat aahet tehva chane nahi (Dastur told me when you had the nuts you didn't have teeth to chew, now you have the teeth but no nuts to chew) so it was a question of an opportunity going amiss, wrong timing but nonetheless. Everybody cannot be a Tansen somebody has to be a Kaansen.
SS: The other question was - sorry - in a sense connected, about these spaces - so Brahman Sabha, when I went after speaking to you I went to look at that space the current trustees sort of deny that music used to happen there. They said that occasionally we would have on.. at Ganpati, or Navratri we would have some religious programme, but no there was never any music, whereas every singer we have spoken to, everybody
NS: everybody talks about Brahman Sabha
SS: Talks ... so at what point would that space would have now
NS: As I told you somewhere after '85-'86
SS: So what was happening that suddenly now music is not happening there. I spoke to Aslam Khanji. I met him
NS: Sumi to awaaz yetoy tithe (Sumi that sound is coming here)
SS: We are disturbing the cooking right we'll just
NS: No, no not at all. That's the water filter going on
SS: Oh ok,
NS: Ha ( Yes)
SS: So you know even Aslam Khanji spoke about regularly performing over there so at that point when the question came that what was happening here in Girgaum or in Brahman Sabha that now suddenly that they are distancing themselves from a musical tradition?
NS: Reason being most of the die hard classical listeners have migrated from Girgaum. Girgaum is no longer a truly middle class Maharashtrian community hub. It is now being taken over by the Marwadis and the Gujaratis because of space restraints, growing families and the chawl system, as a result of which all these apartments, all these apartments all these chawled rooms are being taken by Marwadis so the listeners are going to... Maharashtrian listeners are going to - who were predominantly here - in Girgaum are going to places like Dombivli, Kalyan, Virar, Nallasopara on the western side. In Dombivli there is this Paradkar artist. She's the one
NS: So even programmes are taking place in now in Dombivli and all these people who have shifted from here are attending those programmes. In fact I had travelled with Dasturji to Badlapur for a concert and the concert was... the concert was at 6 o'clock in the morning and we had a full house in Badlapur.
SS: Ya even Aslam Khan spoke about preferring to go Thane and Borivli and Dombivli than Nehru because all the listeners have gone there
NS: Ha, than because.. gone there
and then what happened Xavier's started giving these baithaks in their own hall small baithaks in their hall and the IMG fest so and the Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan, Sajan Milap was having it, so private... these like Deodhar's classes and all that are just in existence they are not conducting any you know any propaganda of music.
Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Music school and classes are going on because of Pandit Dinkar Kaikini and Shashikala Kaikiniji they are there.. they are doing work but when there is no such avenue then who is going to Laxmi Baug besides, Laxmi Baug in those days was acoustically suited for baithaks. It was like having a baithak in your own house because of that, those vintage windows and that wooden stage and it had a balcony and people used to be in the balcony, now that charm has gone and the place is small.
Brahman Sabha also capacity is small. Purandhare Sabha Graha is small. Laxmi Baug is small, so bigger venues. Therefore Dadar- Matunga then became very popular. Dadar-Matunga Cultural Centre in their basement because it could easily the Bharaitya Baithak style, accommodate 700-800 people though it was not acoustically ideal for a classical programme but nonetheless, it became very popular. Instead of Girgaum the focus shifted to Dadar, then Karnatak Sangh in Matunga every Sunday so, all the music lovers whether it is at Dadar or Girgaum or Matunga they will go.
I have gone for programmes to Suburban Music Circle at Santacruz also and Vile Parla Music circle, Vile Parla East
SS: Ya, the station the school
NS: Parle Tilak School. So some venues you know they have their historical importance some nostalgic memories are there. Now Pula (P.L) Deshpande when he felicitated Mallikarjun Mansur at Parla it was because he wanted to. He says, I was born and brought up in Parla before I shifted base to Pune and I remember this place and Parlekars are supposed to be diehard musicians - even Prabha Atre has her Hirabai Sangeet Samarambh in Parla so, wherever there are the pockets of listeners the popularity still continues here unfortunately people have migrated from Girgaum, which was once upon a time...
TN: It's not just become but even say Cowasji Jehangir Hall or Framji Cowasji so even there people used to go and those are not community specific right?
NS: ya, ya absoultely... conferences used to take place
TN: But those don't happen anymore?
NS:They don't happen anymore. They don't happen because it is supposed to be at one end of the city now and it is become more popular I think you see the..basically the...those people who are running these institutions must be finding it difficult to maintain those institutions, suppose if they were to give C. J. Hall for an exhibition a 30-day exhibition for garments etc. it will be more remunerative rather than keeping it as a dedicated hall for classical music you follow? It's like that.
SS: No, and also this neighbourhood itself is transforming rapidly even physically
NS: Very much so.. ya ya it is transforming
SS: We are already seeing all the old buildings disappear quite rapidly so the chawl system and all these buildings are... in the last 6 months itself I have seen...
NS: Yes, Yes I'm lucky to be born and brought up in Girgaum and I wish to continue here as long the lord wants me to.
TN: So there are still houses like this that remain and they are not going to be touched by developers and so on.
NS: I don't think so, because you see this you never know, currently because this is a mine is a tenanted apartment, if the landlord wants to go in for a development then we have to as tenants have to go along with the landlord. But I don't think that happening in the near future because of certain restrictions also by the Government and development control rules etc.
TN: So it will complete 100 years?
NS: Maybe the building. I don't know about myself .
It's over? Thank you much