In the summers of my college days, my main entertainment during the days was to listen to lots and lots of music. I was just getting into a fuller appreciation of music, both in its breadth and depth.
Though I started serious music listening exclusively with Karnatic Music, I soon discovered Hindustani and Western Classical music. This was both bewildering and amazing at the same time. Being also a student of music, I always tried to find out the secret behind the song, go beyond the surface veil of beauty and emotion… a little like opening up that radio (and getting a serious scolding from my father) to find out if there is really someone in there. (The old valves looked like small people though).
It was around this time I got an album by Bhimsen Joshi. The main composition was Alaap, and two Kayals – He Kartar and Gaao Gunkali in Raaga Gunkali. It immediately caught my attention. The first thing I noticed was the structural relation to Bhoopalam, which was the first raaga I learned to play in my flute. (Yes, I know, so cheasy!).
It just revealed to me, without any effort from myself. All the punctuated beauty of a minor pentatonic scale. I still remember the strong, commanding voice of Bhimsen Joshi exploring the universe with me on Gunkali (hmm, may be I was a little bit stoned!)
Today was my monthly E-Music download day. The first album I downloaded was Jeevan by Ajoy Chakroborthy. A wonderful double album, 110 mins of pure bliss. The first four tracks is a beautiful rendition of Gunkali. And he sings the same exact Khayals – He Kartar and Gao Gunkali.
I always thought that, I will never be satisfied by another rendition of these Khayals other than Bhimsenji’s. But, I was so wrong. Ajoy gives a completely different side of Gunkali.
In a very long alaap (20 mins) he shows us a complete landscape of possibilities in 5 notes.
In the second part comes an even greater treasure. A whole 32 mins of Kaisee bajayeeri shyam, Bansuria. Again, this was the Bhajan that made me an absolute fan of Ajoy Chakroborty. But, that was a smaller version (around 10 mins). Very voluptuous, yes, that is a very good quality for Bhariavi. Like a Raphael painting.
Now, I am going to shut up and listen to it…
Get the album. Get stoned and listen to it, the whole of it, in one sitting. I guarantee you, that would be one of the most fruitful 2 hours of your life.