Madhya Pradesh: Family strives to keep Kumar Gandharv's legacy alive - Hindustan Times
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Madhya Pradesh: Family strives to keep Kumar Gandharv's legacy alive

Hindustan Times | By, Indore
Mar 15, 2015 05:00 PM IST

The year 2014-15 marks the 90th birth anniversary of renowned Indian classical vocalist Pandit Kumar Gandharv who settled in Dewas in 1948. Kumar Gandharv Pratishthan, a trust with some family members on board, is holding three-day music concert in Indore next week to mark the occasion. HT portrays lesser known facets of Karnataka-born Kumar Gandharv.

The year 2014-15 marks the 90th birth anniversary of renowned Indian classical vocalist Pandit Kumar Gandharv who settled in Dewas in 1948. Kumar Gandharv Pratishthan, a trust with some family members on board, is holding a three-day music concert in Indore next week to mark the occasion. HT portrays lesser known facets of Karnataka-born Kumar Gandharv.

Pandit-Kumar-Gandharv-performs-at-a-concert-in-1968-Photo-Kumar-Gandharv-Pratishthan
Pandit-Kumar-Gandharv-performs-at-a-concert-in-1968-Photo-Kumar-Gandharv-Pratishthan

DEWAS: An 18-year old boy was among the handful of people who sang Vande Mataram at Gawali Tank in Mumbai during 1942 Quit India movement inspired by Mahatma Gandhi. He was child singing prodigy Kumar Gandharv.

Mahatma’s Gandhi’s use of non-violence as a tool to overpower British in India left a deep impression on him. “His singing at Gawali Tank was a fallout of this,” his vocalist-daughter Kalapini Komkali said.

Later, he composed raga Gandhi Malhar and presented it during Mahatma’s birth centenary year function held at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi in 1969.

India’s freedom struggle influenced him when he was learning Hindustani classical music at School of Indian Music in Mumbai headed by his guru BR Devdhar. “He came in contact with daughters, relatives of several freedom struggle leaders who came to learn music there,” Kalapini told HT.

Kumar’s another aspect which surprised many was his interest in architecture as he would compare composition of a raga with a building’s structure - its elevation, curves, the space created and left vacant in it. A recently released book, ‘Kaljayi Kumar Gandharv’ makes reference to his fascination for architecture.

While it is well known that Kumar Gandharv refused to stay within confines of Indian classical musical gharanas and brought fresh insight to the way a particular raag could be sung, his outpouring on why he did so forms an interesting comment.

“Because I am orthodox, I can do something (experiment),” Kumar Gandharv said when asked why he didn’t follow any Indian gharana of singing classical music.

“Why tradition enamours you so much? Then why don’t you follow traditional life fully? In your house, you want a flush toilet, a tap, a well. And you don’t want to leave the pride of having well (in house). I cannot help if you’ve left fundamental thinking in music,” he told the questioner.

“Kumarji was the first to bring thinking to classical music. This is how he innovated, rejuvenated, widened the scope of ragas without disturbing their originality,” his vocalist-grandson Bhuvanesh Komkali said.

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