In an unclaimed moment, Begum Sultana stole her listeners’ hearts with a marvellous rendition of this stunning raga – Raag Ambika Sarang. This raga was designed by Chidanand Nagarkar. The gandhar is omitted and elements of Shuddha Sarang and Kafi are blended together. According to Rajan Parrikar, “There are occasional reminders of Raga Saraswati but the presence of shuddha nishad and shuddha madhyam make for a clear separation.”
She sings a bandish, ‘Ud Ja Re Kagva,’ a bandish in drut Teental, delineating the recesses of this raga amply with her vistaar and jet-paced taans. She interludes the taans with bol-baav and akaar vistaars stretching over several cycles of the 16-beat cycle, bringing an order of balance and sense of relief and to the ears.
Yogesh Samsi (tabla) provides a delightful support while ushering in moments of virtue and passion in the recital. Chiranjib Chakraborty (harmonium) was a last-minute addition; He was substituting Pandit Ajay Joglekar as his visa didn’t arrive on time. The UK-based accompanist gave a commendable support to Begum Sultana, eliciting her praise and words of encouragement throughout the recital.
Raag Ambika Sarang is based on the Kafi thaat. It is performed during noontime and is a shadav-shadav raga, that is, it uses six notes both in its ascent and descent. Ga or 3rd is omitted in both ascent and descent whereas both teevra and suddha madhyam and nishad (pure and raised 4th and 7th) are used in this raga. Teevra Ma and Ni are used only in arohan. This raga has Kafi-like characteristics in its upper octave. Its dominant and sub-dominant (vad and samvadi) notes are Re (2nd) and Pa (5th). It is very similar to the Carnatic raga Saraswati. Its arohana and avarohana are as follows:
S R m R M P D n S’
S’ n D P, D n D P, M P, m R, P R, S
Begum Parveen Sultana (Patiala gharana)
Partha Sarathi Mukherjee (tabla)
Chiranjib Chakraborty (harmonium)
Nina Burmi (tanpura)
Gunwant Dhadyalla (tanpura)
Debipriya Das (support)
Ranjana Ghatak (support)
Raag Ambika Sarang, Thaat: Kafi, Samay: Late morning