Whenever any famous musician from the world of Indian classical music is questioned about the quality of newcomers in the field, the answer we get is very positive. Almost all of them say that the young musicians are doing very good. If someone listens to some records of pt. Kumar Gandharva and then gives a thought to this question raised above, he will get depressed. Yes, there are many maestros listening to whose performances can make us doubtful about the quality of new generation of classical musicians. But to compare with, I chose Pt. Kumar Gandharva. Certainly, there are reasons for the same.
For last many decades, the word innovation has been dominating every sector. Right from manufacturing to education, every field has been changed and affected by this word innovation. Though classical music is there for hundreds and thousands of years, many innovations have taken place into the world of classical music. These innovations are not ordinary innovations as they have not damaged the crux of classical music. If we make a list of all the creative and innovative musicians, certainly Pt. Kumar Gandharva has to be there in the list.
Pt. Kumar Gandharva made a difference in many ways- right from the quality of music to living life as a person. He practiced music when the field was not as glamorous as it is today. He performed, when artists were not paid as much as they paid today. Sound systems, infrastructure, publicity and hospitality were in much poor state at that time as compared to today’s scenario. But still, one can find peace in his music which is hardly visible today. Yes, he made a difference.
The other aspect of Pt. Kumar Gandharva which separates him from others is his capacity to experiment. While listening to his performance, one suddenly realizes that the canvas occupied by seven notes is infinite. He had the power to sing one line in infinite ways- each one of them being equally enchanting and equally creative.
By doing this comparison, by no way I am trying to say that all the artists from the young generation lag behind. But I will surely say that we have a lot to learn from Pt. Kumar Gandharva. As a student of Indian Classical Music, when I am learning any Raga, I listen to its rendering by different musicians. When I say musicians, it includes both vocalists and instrumentalists. In case of every Raga, I without fail listen to its rendering by Pt. Kumar Gandharva. He always has some different story to say. He opens up many new dimensions in that Raga totally unexplored by others. There are many musicians who have made a difference, but in case of Pt. Kumar Gandharva, the difference is huge with unfathomable impact.