ITC SRA Malhar Festival 2018
If the monsoons are here, the ITC Sangeet Research Academy’s Malhar Festival cannot be far behind. The Birla Sabhagar auditorium was the venue for the two-day programme that was inaugurated by Mrs Bharti Deveshwar on 3rd August, 2018. She set the note for Malhar by watering a Tulsi plant, symbolically heralding the Academy’s mission of nurture and propagation of Hindustani Classical Music. The gesture also denoted hope and promise for music in a way that the rains bring succour to parched earth. Maestros such as Pandit Rajan Misra and Pandit Sajan Misra and Pandit Tejendra Narayan Majumdar presented nuanced variations of the Malhar Ragas. The range they demonstrated had masterly versions of Ramdasi and Surdasi Malhars as well as the rare and exquisite Rupamanjari Malhar and Nat Malhar. If Shri Brajswar Mukherjee opened the festival with a skilful and well-executed Miyan ki Malhar, Shri Omkar Dadarkar presented an inspired rendering of the same Raga on the second evening followed by a bandish in Shahana Kanhara. The Jugalbandi in Megh by Shri Abir Hussain on the Sarod and Shri Supratik Sengupta on the Sitar was remarkable. Sanjukta Biswas’s Gaud Malar was noteworthy in its exploration of the Raga. She followed it up with a Khamaj Ang bandish and Kajri, all of which were rendered with outstanding control and poise. With so many virtuoso performances, ITC Sangeet Research Academy’s Malhar Festival was a grand success. Although it rained relentlessly, the footfall in the auditorium gave a lie to the vagaries of the weather. Clearly, Malhar was the winner.