Sawai Gandharva Festival- A note for Critics

Each and every year, one feast is reserved for the lovers and admirers of Indian Classical Music. Sawai Gandharva Festival, this giant musical feast is available every year and I am there to attend it without any failure.

Sawai Gandharva Festival brings almost all of the famous artists on the same stage. It lasts for 4 to 5 days and presents 4 to 5 artists a day. So, it is obvious that people and also critics start comparing the performances and many times, commit mistakes.

Sawai Gandharva Festival

Many times, these mistakes are due to love and respect for one particular artist and even hatred for another artist. But, these are minor factors for professional critics who give their reviews in newspapers. Many a times, new listeners get their views affected by these critics which in turn creates permanent dislike for some artists which are really genius.

This time, I had kept a strict eye on all the famous newspapers who were publishing reviews of Sawai Gandharva Festival. Almost all of them did show that critics need to have a clarity about music, its purpose. To give an example, many newspapers claimed that performance of Pandit Jasraj was not up to the mark. I just do not know what to say to these people. Do they even know about whom are they talking? Pandit Jasraj is in his eighties with his voice still ranging over three and half octaves. If you still listen to him to hear some musical gymnastics, you have wasted your musical life. I listen to Pandit Jasraj just to feel his vibe, just to feel his presence, just to feel unity he attains with the divine while singing. Critics of Sawai Gandhava Festival should note that purpose of music is not to enchant audience. The purpose is to attain unison with god and enchanted audience is just the byproduct.

Same thing happens with Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia in Sawai Gandharva Festival. Many a times, critics even dare to call his performance boring and without energy. This man, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia is absorbed in music for more than 50 years. Today, his complete body shivers due to old age. Still he performs better than artists from the younger generations. His performance is not boring but the critics fail to catch and feel his silence. They cannot see the stability of his breath and his being.

During festivals like Sawai Gandharva Festival, many times young artists and matured artists perform on same day. The point to note is that, younger artists certainly have more energy. But as far as musical maturity and meditativeness of music is concerned, critics fail to observe it in the performances of matured artists.

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4 responses to “Sawai Gandharva Festival- A note for Critics”

  1. dakshayani Avatar

    True! I feel whoever is real lover of music cannot commit such mistakes…..and there is a need to feel music than to understand and analyze…..a lover will love n dance on tunes….so its better avoid reading views and essential to feel the musical vibe!

  2. Narayan Bhat Avatar
    Narayan Bhat

    What you have observed is true…

  3. Rigved Deshpande Avatar
    Rigved Deshpande

    Mandar, I respect your feelings towards the artists and the kala. No doubt, Pt. Hari Prasad Chaurasia, Pt. Jasraj and many othere are the maestros in this field and have devoted their whole life to this art. Hats off to them. But at the same time,I dont think that critics are doing anything wrong. I am a die hard fan of Hindustani Classical learning Vocal for past 8-9 years. There is no point in proving the critics wrong. The critics view the art not only from the emotional, asthetic or spiritual but from the theoretical point of view.

    Even i would like to tell my observation here is that the country has many artists of great caliber from all gharanas. But for past few years the Savai Gandharva has just become a platform for the Kirana Gharana vocalists.

    Also, the purity of the ambience during the older times when we had Panditji amongst us is not found now-a-days during the samaroh due to over commercialisation of the fest.

    I know you may not agree by my views but still…..

    1. Mandar Karanjkar Avatar

      Dear Rigved,
      Thanks for comment.
      I know the things which you have written about Savai Gandharva Festival and they have some point in them. The festival is commercialized, great artists do not get enough time, performers exceed time, Shankar mahadevan sings something funny and people clap….I know this all. The article which I have written is to tell that though these artists, like Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia , Pt. Jasraj are tired, they are far superior. I am not at all protecting Savai Gandharva Management and all. I am standing for Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia, Pt. Jasraj and not Savai Gandharva Management.
      Anyway, whatever you said, has some point in it. May be, one day I will write on the point which you have raised. Its sad, but very true. Thanks for your genuine comment.

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