ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Kishori Amonkar (1932–2017): A Luminous Star Falls

A personal remembrance of the Hindustani classical singer.

Words fail me in expressing my grief and imagining a music world without Kishoritai, after her sad passing away on 3 April. Not many knew that we were close and had shared thoughts about music and our Jaipur gharana bandishes. True, we didn’t meet too often, but whenever we happened to meet, we discussed music. We must have met some eight to ten times, but each one of our meetings was priceless and gave me a glimpse into her thoughts on music.

I remember we were both to sing in Bharat Bhavan, in Bhopal, in 1992 after my father expired. She was staying in a five-star hotel and she sent word that she wanted to meet me. I went, and after offering her condolences she began to talk at some length on music. She knew that my father-guru (the great Mallikarjun Mansur) had taught me many apprachalit, or complex, ragas. “Raj,” she affectionately ­addressed me, “I know dada has taught you many apprachalit ragas. Could you sing Dhanasharee of Bhimpalas ang for me?” Dhanasharee of the Bilawal ang was, and is, perhaps much more common than that of the Multani and Bhimpalas angs. So I sang the bandish “Mai tose naahi jaanuri.” She made me sing the whole sthayi (the composition’s first verse), and the antara (the second verse), three or four times. “What a beautiful composition, and how neatly constructed,” she said, and then switched to Marathi, “Hey bandish mala shikhav re.” Teach me this bandish, na. She noted the words down. “What tai, me teaching you?” I replied in surprise. “Why not?” she said. “You are a younger brother. Why shouldn’t I learn from you?” I didn’t “teach” her, and she did not “learn” but we went on to discuss the constituent angs of the raga. It was then that she said, “You know, according to the shastras, this Dhanasharee of Bhimpalas ang is an older version of Dhanasharee.” I nodded, and we began to talk about the prevalence of Bhimpalas ang in the raga and how it overshadows the Dhanasharee element. Then, we went together to the Bharat Bhavan venue where somebody was to sing. She said, “Raj, we will sit behind so that after the first raga we can slowly get up and leave.” I told her, “No didi, the organiser and the musician may want a musician of your calibre to sit in the front row.” But she wouldn’t listen and despite the organisers asking her to be seated in the front, she sat at the back. After the first raga was over, she pulled me out.

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Updated On : 12th Apr, 2017
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