Pancham Nishad’s Pratahswar series completes five years. Divya Naik traces the journey
At a time when the bustling city is just waking up to its daily grind, there is a small yet committed band of enthusiasts that gathers, every once in a while, to soak in the magic of Hindustani classical tunes.
For five years now, Mumbai has been hosting these monthly morning concerts of Hindustani Classical Music, thanks to the efforts of Pancham Nishad and the Pu La Deshpande Kala Academy. Titled Pratahswar, these sessions are held at the Kala Prangan (open air venue) of the centrally located Ravindra Natya Mandir in Mumbai’s business district of Worli. This year, the 44th concert was held on the 15 January with world renowned sarod player Ken Zuckerman, who was accompanied by the tabla player Ojas Adhiya.
Walk down memory Lane: The annual project of eight events, held on the second or third Sunday of every month from October to May, commenced on 1 October 2006 — which also happens to be International Music Day. Shashi Vyas, director of Pancham Nishad Creatives says, “The unique concept of one artiste per concert in Pratahswar enables a better interaction between the artiste and the audience due to undivided attention of both towards each other. The peaceful morning time, open air ambience and the soul-stirring music helps the audience to get into a meditative mood and attain a peaceful state of mind.” He further elaborates that after five years Pratahswar is considered as a ‘brand event’ in the world of Indian classical music having built up a loyal audience of around 700 people. Also, in Pratahswar the audience participation is not artiste based. It is the quality of performance that leaves more of an impact than the fame and position of the artist. Says Vyas, “Many unknown artistes featured in the Pratahswar concert turned out to be a revelation for the discerning owing to their talent and skill.”
A Year of Celebration: This year, as the Pratahswar series completed five years, the celebration was held from 6.30 to 8.30 am with the sarod maestro Ken Zuckerman whose renditions in Raag Jogia Kalingda, Ahirbhairav and Kausibhairavi with such dexterity that reminded one of the great artiste Ustad Ali Akbar Khan Saheb. The most striking feature was that there was no gimmickry approach and his strumming left the audience amazed. One more peculiar aspect is that people travelling to the venue were from far flung areas like Kalyan, Borivali and Vasai and the venue was packed to its total capacity of 750. The turnout for all the events of Pratahswar has been around 85 to 90 per cent.
Economic Elements: Pratahswar is a non-ticketed venture and hence there is no commercial element. The sponsorship amount meets most of the expenses like artiste fees, sound and stage expenses. As Vyas puts it, “When an event features young artists and is for the listeners then one has to rely on the corporate sponsors who understand your mission and passion of promoting rich Indian traditional performing art and who extend their whole hearted support. A large portion of the revenue earned from ticketed events is ploughed back to events which encourages the young artistes to be heard and recognized. Programmes like Aarohi are specially designed for this. Unless challenges are met head on by an individual or an organization, there will not be motivation to move forward in realizing your passionate dreams.” The event has till now been sponsored by Tata Capital Limited who have supported the event ever since its inception.
Artists Showcased: Commencing with the performance of Jayateerth Mevundi, the Pratahswar stage has been graced by other talented vocalists – Ashwini Bhide- Deshpande, Satish Vyas, Ajay Pohankar, Pandit Nayan Ghosh, Rahul Deshpande, Rupak Kulkarni, Purbayan Chatterjee, Rakesh Chauraisa, Kalapini Komakali, Kaushiki Chakrabarthy, Suhas Vyas, Sanjeev Chimmalgi, Niladri Kumar, Ritesh & Rajneesh Mishra, Devaki Pandit, Aarti Tikekar, Shaunak Abhisheki, Sanjeev Abhyankar, Manjari Asnare Kelkar, Omkar Dadarkar, Aarti Tikekar, Anand Bhate, Nityanand Haldipur, Ravi Chary, Shashwati Mandal and Aliya Rashid.
The Step Ahead: With a feather in the cap considering the encouraging response they have received till now, the plans are on to further the initiative and take it to other venues. Hence, the process has been on of testing grounds in other centers. Shows like “Bolava Vithal” in and around 7 cities has given the organizers the opportunity to understand the feel of the areas and ideas are being made to develop the concept further.