Kishori Amonkar sang thumri and bhajan but realised her soul was committed to sur.
If one looks at Kishori Amonkar's 74-year-long career, one realises that she always stressed that ‘bhava’ is important in every raga. Initially she had to face severe criticism and opposition from others for her giving so importance to bhava. But over the decades everyone started following her. This is Kishoritai, ‘Always firm on her stand’.
Her mother Mogubai trained her in classical music, but she was also a follower of Kesarbai. You will notice it if you hear her initial compositions. But later she developed her own style. As we know Mogubai was a doyenne of Jaipur Gharana. But Kishoritai’s repertoire was that she crossed the defined frame of Jaipur Gharana. She was experimental at core and brought various specialities of different gharanas to her music without leaving her soul. She was a very ‘thoughtful’ singer. She blended and innovated ragas and surs with ease. Her divine illustrations came from the rich thought process that she developed over the decades.
She would always tell us that we should pull out minimum five minutes everyday from riyaz and think about the innovations that we could bring to the world of classical singing. This teaching and thought enriched her singing and simultaneously the life of her listeners. Her Sahela Re… is a milestone. But credit for this phenomenal success goes to her interpretation of Bhupa Raga.
Kishoritai had tremendous capacity to illustrate Bhupa in so many ways. Recently we went to Delhi where Kishoritai was singing Bhupa for almost one and a half hour. Have you seen any other singer to whom people listen for such longest time?
Initially, she sang thumri, bhajan and all. You can hear Geet Gaya Pattharone, He Shamsundara from earlier stage. But later she discovered that her soul is deeply connected to sur, to classical singing. Also her mother told her to concentrate on classical music. Her belief that Indian music has the capacity to make human’s spiritual journey more beautiful was astonishing. It was reflection of her commitment to sur. In last few years she never had to search for raga, but rather raga used to come at her.
She was a living example of Advait Tatva in Indian philosophy. She might have left us in body but that immortal advait of her sur will remain with music forever.
(Raghunandan Panshikar was a student of Kishori Amonkar)
A musical genius