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Maitra Jeevanche - Relationship Of Journey

Sunayana Kachroo

When Rumi was asked about his relationship with a fellow sufi, he said “It is a relationship of journey”.

On the crisp, beautiful evening of May 14th, just before the twilight two musical legends who have been traveling in different eras on their path, came together or rather came within the cosmic vicinity of each other like two stars gliding around a black hole to create what is termed as the birth of new universes. “Maitra Jeevanche” is precisely that, a glimpse into the journey of two celebrated composers, singers and time travelers Pt. Hridaynath Mangeshkar and Dr. Saleel Kulkarni.

Mesmerizing, nostalgic, enthralling and captivating, Maitra Jeevanche is many things, but I can tell you what it is not, it is not just another “musical show”.  It not only boasts of bringing two iconic and eminent composers of India together but it also has this unique conversational-informal vibe to it. Pandit ji is known for his craft of composing even complex poetry into very melodious songs, hence keeping the tradition of bhaav-geet very much alive. Saleel is not only blessed with a beautiful voice but is a very talented composer as well. During the show while they croon their celebrated and personal favorite songs they also unravel -story behind the songs, the songs behind the stories, the anecdotes, how and why certain intonations were used? Why did the singer compress his/her voice at a special note or a word? Why did they glide through some parts of the lyrics? Why was a pause introduced at a certain juncture of a song? How much of a song is storytelling? How composers nurture each word, wrap it with a hand crafted musical phrase and keep working on it until emotional(mood) perfection is achieved, a melody is born-canvass is full -sometimes deep, sometimes feather light but always appropriate. No wonder these songs are still popular and relevant.

Greeted by a house full of audience, Pandit ji started the evening with a divine Abhang of Sant. Gyaneshwar “Avachita Parimalu” followed by many of his iconic songs “Maze raani”, “Ghar thaklele sanyaasi”,“Jeevalaga”, “Ti geli tehva”, “Sagara pran talmalala”, “Mee raat takli” , the folk –“Jambool Pikalya” and Dr. Saleel’s immortal songs like “Sandhiprakash”, “Atasha ase he mala”,” Tav Nayananche dal”, “Diva lagu de re deva” and very popular “Dhipadi dhipang”.

Accompanied by a very talented Ritesh Ohol on guitar, Aditya Athalye on tabla and Dr. Rajendra Doorkar on dholak. Ritesh’s brilliant strumming infused life into many compositions while maintaining the integrity of melody intact. Aditya and Dr. Rajendra’s jugalbandi was foot tapping and exhilarating.

Although the stage is shared and the admiration is mutual, yet one can see how much Saleel is in awe of Pandit ji, savoring every “Wah” from his guru and mentor. On special request from the audience Saleel’s son Shubhankar performed Sudhir Moghe’s kavita. Nestled between the two doyens of Marathi Music world, I wondered if he was nervous. Didn’t seem so. His performance reminded me of a saying “Age is not how many years you have seen but how much you have seen in those years”.

Pandit ji shared various anecdotes of his interaction with Kavi Grace, Suresh Bhat and Sudhir Moghe, how they supported, inspired and admired each other’s work. “Bhay ithale sampat naahi” was written on a hospital bed with a letter dripped in melancholy describing the loneliness and boredom of a poet recovering from a fracture, “Diva lagu de re deva” was penned by Sandeep Khare on the back side of a crumbled medical prescription while coming back from a tour, Pandit ji had to almost blackmail Shanta Shelke into writing Jivalagaa. Saleel, before singing “Atasha ase he mala“ talked about how sometimes even a composer truly understands the depth of his own song years later, probably when he has lived it or has  experienced it. Many in the audience including me were moved to tears. The interesting aspect of these stories is that they reveal how dynamic these collaborators are. This requires both deep understanding and love for words and a capacity to weave “Bhaav Pradhan” poems into hummable rhythmic melody.

The atmosphere of the auditorium was very vibrant to the point that people started requesting songs right from the first one and the artists accepted, talked and interacted immediately. This is more of jugalbandi and hence a completely unscripted show. Based on what Pandit ji sings, Saleel digs into his chest of hundreds of treasures and we see two magicians weave a magical show. The evening ended with a “Bandish”, -Rasool Allah which was reverberating through the auditorium and could probably be heard from the heavens too- followed by songs based on this Bandish–Dayaghana and Joothe naina bole.

This show is a phenomenon not to be missed. Many left the auditorium wanting for more, nostalgic, reminiscing their own journey and their untold stories probably left behind…..misty eyed.

“Atasha ase he mala kaay hote

Kunya kaal che paani dolyaat yete”

I want to thank Arundhati Datye and her entire team of Kalavaibhav, a Non-profit organization which  promotes Indian classical arts, that presented this show in the Boston area. 

(Sunayana Kachroo is a Boston based poet, lyricist and a film-writer. She has published her first collection of poems, ‘Waqt Se Pare – Beyond Time’. )

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