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Monday, July 11, 2016

In tune with rhythm divine


Vidushi Veena Sahasrabuddhe will be remembered as a vibrant vocalist and a generous teacher.Vidushi Veena Sahasrabuddhe, the most authentic, acclaimed and vibrant vocalist of Gwalior gayaki, being taken on a wheelchair to receive the coveted SNA award by the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee during a glittering ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, was a touching sight. She was ailing for past few years, with a rare degenerative disease, which had no cure. With tearful eyes, her family, friends and admirers bade her farewell last week, when she left for her heavenly abode.

Born in Kanpur on 14th September 1948 in a family of musicians, Veena was initiated into classical Hindustani music at a tender age by her vocalist parents Shanta and Pandit Shankar Shripad Bodas, who was sent by his legendary guru Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar, to promote and propagate classical music in this industrial town of Uttar Pradesh, which had no clue about music and other Indian arts. They had established ‘Sangeet Samaj’ there and started teaching Hindustani classical music. Veena also received training from her elder brother Kashinath Bodas. She learnt tabla and Kathak too, but chose to become a vocalist par excellence.On behest of her father, she was further groomed under Pandit Balwant Rai Bhatt and Vasant Thakar. Bhatt was a prolific composer, versatile vocalist and disciple of Pandit Onkar Nath Thakur and Vasant Thakar was son of Anand Thakar. Both Pandit Omkar Nath Thakur and Anand Thakar in turn, were the disciples of Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar. Thus Veena truly belonged to the Paluskar parampara of the Gwalior gharana.On the academic front, she completed her graduation with music, Sanskrit and English literature and Masters in Sanskrit from the Kanpur University. She also obtained Masters degree ‘Sangeet Alankar’ and Doctorate ‘Sangeet Praveen’ from the Akhil Bharatiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Mandala. Young Veena made her first mark on the music scene when she won the All India Radio (AIR) competition in Hindustani classical vocal category and started performing from the AIR on a regular basis.The immensely gifted and meticulously groomed vocalist Veena Sahasrabuddhe sore to the dizzying heights of popularity as the leading and most sought after female vocalist of the Gwalior gharana, after she was invited in 1972 by none other than Pandit Bhimsen Joshi to perform at the prestigious Sawai Gandharva Mahotsav.There was no looking back after that and she became a must for every music conference.

Her singing style had its roots in the Gwalior gharana, but it also assimilated the nuances of Jaipur and Kirana gayaki due to her exposure to the music of topmost artistes visiting her home and exchanging notes with her learned father at Kanpur. She also learnt under Pandit Gajanan Bua Joshi, after shifting to Pune with her husband Professor Hari Sahasrabuddhe in 1984.Veena was mostly known as a khayal and bhajan singer. She believed that real appreciation of our music needs a little bit of initiation, hence she would acquaint her listeners with the name of the raga and tala and the words of the bandish or composition she was going to present, before opening each of her concert. In fact, she took regular music appreciation lessons at the IIT Kanpur, where her husband used to teach engineering.A hundred per cent tuneful, unblemished voice with tremendous melodic appeal, intellectual grasp of the nature of raga and its reposeful rendition, neatly enunciated lyrical content and precise intonation were the hallmark of her impressive presentations.Her rigorous riyaaz had enabled her to execute the most difficult and complicated taans with effortless ease. She was a gifted composer also and hence offered a rich variety in her repertoire. Her ease with the laya or the rhythmic aspect, was equally admirable. She would play with the rhythm at will, while singing a bandish, because she would have internalised the rhythmic cycle to let it flow like a parallel track inside her. This was mostly evident when she sang the compositions of her mentor Balwant Rai Bhatt, who composed with the pen-name ‘Bhava-Rang’, with a penchant on the rhythmic aspect.

A gifted teacher herself, the vidushi has left behind a host of accomplished vocalists trained under her watchful eyes. She was a dedicated guru who taught with meticulous clarity and took pains to do so. She would, for instance, not only explain the difference between Puria, Marwa and Sohini ragas, that have exactly similar swaras; but would also show it practically, singing each one of the raga with their finer nuances to show how they differ with each other. Her lecture demonstrations were equally popular where she would explain the finer points of music, so that anyone could enjoy and appreciate it.While in Kanpur, she also trained students choir at the IIT and staged a few wonderful performances. This encouraged her to look critically at forms of music other than Indian classical. She listened to Jazz and works of Mozart and Beethoven from Western classical music and experimented with it. Once she performed with Patricia Rozario (Mumbai-born British Soprano) at the Durbar Festival in London.She held the position of the Head of Music Department at the SNDT University, Pune, bringing her incisive vision and impeccable performance skills to the academia and enriched students’ learning experience. She also encouraged her students to learn and appreciate other forms of art, like dance, painting and sculpture, which she believed would enhance the aesthetic quality of their music presentation.She experimented with thematic presentations like ‘Ritu-Chakra’ and composed Marathi poems in Hindustani ragas for her album “Bhav-Veena”. Sahasrabuddhe recorded a number of ragas with clarity of concept and detailed rendition, singing khayal and tarana. She had left her inimitable mark on bhajan singing too. Her bhajans in ‘Bhakti-Mala’ series are still a favourite. She has left behind a substantial plethora of her live concerts recording too which will keep her musical memory alive in the hearts of music lovers for a long time. 

Forwarded By:- Shri. Jainendra Nigam, PB News Desk,       prasarbharati.newsdesk@gmail.com

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