Girija Devi, the veteran thumri singer from Benaras, held a master class last fortnight at the National Centre for the Performing Arts. She shared valuable insights about vocal performances with a roomful of senior singers and music teachers. “Each note has to be laden with meaning when you sing,” she exhorted. Devi’s experience of six decades has been of great benefit to her students including Malini Awasthi, who will perform at the Bhavan’s Cultural Centre Andheri this fortnight.
The 44-year-old singer from Lucknow has been learning from Devi for the last 15 years. She is a ganda-bandh student, which means that Devi has formally accepted Awasthi’s talent by tying a piece of thread on her student’s wrist. “In our Benaras gharana, the ganda bandhan is equivalent to a graduation parade,” said Awasthi. “It is done only after the teacher is satisfied about the ability of the student. I began learning from her in 1998 but my ganda bandhan was done in 2006.”
Awasthi will present music inspired by the monsoons. In the month of Shravan, which is a part of the rainy season, various semi-classical forms of music are sung such as the thumri, kajri, and jhoola. “All these forms are rooted in the folk tradition of Uttar Pradesh,” said Awasthi, adding that she will attempt to reveal facets of this musical culture.
A part of this culture is the kajri, a form of folk song sung by women, particularly when they are sitting on swings strung from branches of trees. The name kajri comes from the kajal which women use to line their eyes with, as it is believed that rainclouds are as black as this kajal. “People are not aware that there are three types of kajris,” said Awasthi. “One is called Mirzapuri, the second is called Avadhi and the third is Benarasi. I will present all these types in my programme,” she said.
Awasthi initially trained under Shujat Hussain Khan and Rahat Ali Khan of the Rampur gharana. She has a keen interest in promoting folk forms such as the dadra, banna, holi and chaiti and has performed on TV shows such as Junoon on NDTV Imagine. She has also toured the US, UK, the Netherlands and Mauritius for events organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations. At the upcoming concert, she will be accompanied on the harmonium by Dharamnath Mishra, on the tabla by Rajesh Mishra and on the sarangi by Sandip Mishra.
By Amarendra Dhaneshwar on August 03 2012 4.19am