Monday, April 03, 2006

Just another song

Abhishek Singh of UIUC recently sent me a recording of Ulhas Kashalkar singing Nat Kamod at a SPIC-MACAY concert at Urbana-Champaign in 2004. Ulhas also sang Kaushi Kanada, Shankara, Kafi, Desh and Bhairavi that night, but the Nat Kamod is the piece de resistance, and brought back so many memories. The classic bandish "Nevar baju re" with its dramatic octave-spanning gamak leading up to the sam has seen many great renditions in the past. Laxmibai Jadhav's drut version is busy, sparky, with little pause for thought. Mallikarjun Mansur takes a more relaxed approach, his trademark gamak-laced bol-taans highlighting the region around the sam. Kesarbai Kerkar produces probably the classic rendition, a masterpiece of warm, fluid waves of sound washing over one another with the nyas on individual notes and the prolonged aakaar taans going just that little bit further than seems humanly possible. Ulhas' version follows the Kesarbai mould, not quite in the same class but seeking the same sense of delayed climax and drawn-out, modulated sentiment (he also has a very pretty drut, "Sachi kaho tum", but let that pass).

But the rendition that sticks in my mind most is from the Agra fold, by Sharafat Hussain Khan. I first heard it on a tape of the AIR National Programme broadcast a week after Sharafat's death in 1985, sandwiched between, I think, a Kafi Kanada and a Khamaj thumri (the classic "Na manoongi"). I have never heard anything to equal his attack on the sam in this bandish: the andolan on the word "nevar" has to be heard to be believed. And really, other than maybe Faiyyaz Khan himself, only Sharafat could have pulled it off without reducing it to machine-gun chatter. It's been a long time since I heard that version, locked away on a cassette at home, and my current three minute mp3 is probably a different recording.

Here's a link to the Kesarbai version, if anyone's interested.


Anonymous said...

hey sid,

will listen to kesarbai kerkar later. my fav sharafat hussain khan in your collection in the one in khem kalyan (incorrectly written as kshem kalyan).. literally god level. do you have a higher bitrate version?


expiring_frog said...

The original of the one on the radio is 224kbps, digitized from an old tape and cleaned up as much as possible. Give me an email address and I'll mail it to you.

Khem Kalyan was the first item in that 1985 NP :). Beautiful bandish: piharwa maiko deho pata.

BTW, no offence meant, but which Ayyer would you be, since I know several?

Anonymous said...

hehe... lost touch with kwizzing, i see..

your grand^3-baap at kalyanpur.

(last name at

expiring_frog said...

Ayyayyo! I am shocked and stupefied that your great^3 presence deigns to grace my blaag and my radio.

I shall send my humble offerings to your divine inbox pronto.

DD said...

ulhas er version ta kothay pabo?

expiring_frog said...

@dd: By being nice and passing me big bucks under the table while laying out a sumptuous meal on top of it.

Anonymous said...

Hey Sid,
So this is officially the first blog with my full name on it (all my friends put in a curt 'Singh' or worse still just 'A'!)
Thanks for the SHK Nat Kamod...completely awestruck with the thunderous 'Nevara' sam! I mean from a Shringar rasa raga it almost sounds Vira rasa now! And you are right that none apart from Faiyyaz could have achieved this effect.
Although still, for me Kesarbai's NK is untouchable...just the right combination of exhilarating pyrotechnics and expressiveness.
BTW what's this I hear about a Khem Kalyan? My interest has been sufficiently piqued...

expiring_frog said...

Oh I completely agree abt Kesarbai -- it's definitely ne plus ultra. I just have some sentimental attachment to SHK and his thunder :D.

BTW, I seem to remember that SHK's NP version was longer and better than this rather casual 3-min tukra.

Will send you the Khem Kalyan. SHK ispeshul.

Akeel said...

do you know were i can get hold of the sharafat hussain khan AIR Nat Kamod you mention? Is it available at all? Also has there been any reissue of his Anandi LP recording on cd or cassette. If not, can I get the LP somewhere?

expiring_frog said...

@akeel: I now have the recording as mp3, but it's also online here. If you have any problems listening to it (I do, hence I can't confirm if this is indeed that AIR recording, but given the selection of other ragas, it seems to be), drop me a line with your email id and I'll mail you an mp3.

Re the Anandi LP, I need to check... I have one of his Nands at least. Will post a follow-up if I locate anything else.

ys said...

Bad that I had not discovered ur blog earlier. Your writings are very enjoyable and those on HCM are really sensible. All the best to keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

dear siddharth, can i possibly get the mp3 of sharafat hussain khan's 'khem kalyan'. it is wonderful. you could email me at