Dharwad is regarded as the Mecca of north Indian classical vocalists. The father of the Kirana gharana, Ustad Abdul Karim Khan (1872-1947), settled here and nurtured many musical luminaries and created a deep connection between north Indian and Carnatic music. Hailing from the same region, Pandit Kaivalya Kumar Gurav is an offspring of generations of talented musicians. The unflinching melody of his soft voice straddles an enviable range of four octaves. He is highly regarded for his commanding and spiritual presentation of khayal.
He begins with Raag Gawati, revealing it with a short alap. The composition “Mana Ley Ri Pyari Preetam Ki Batiya” set to vilambit Ektaal was written and composed by Pandit Gurav himself. With his revered expertise, he unspools the rare elements of Gawati. The mellowed nuances of his voice unveil the devotional emotions with patient expansions over bol vistaar and sargams. Through ornamented phrases, he renders komal Ni in a prominent meend (glide) from Sa that highlights the characteristic snatch of this raga.
He concludes this part with a faster composition in Ektaal designed on a witty scansion of the 12-beat cycle. Pandit Kumar surfs the bandish beautifully with witty manipulations improvising the tonal sentences over the rhythmic structure with unexpected pauses, meends and taans.
He brings in a lighter mood with a thumri in Mishra Khamaj set to Deepchandi taal. Pandit Gurav brightens up the romance of this piece with dulcet ornamentations and heart-wrenching emotions. As he concludes this thumri, he immediately embarks on a tappa – O Dildaara Aaja Re. Composed by the widely respected and revered Pandit Kumar Gandharva, this tappa is part of the rich repertoire of the Dharwad region. Set to Raag Khamaj, it is woven to a cycle of Teental. Pandit Gurav delineates the subtle, rapid notes in knotty constructions effortlessly in his rendition.
He ends his recital with a devotional composition by Meerabai - “Ek Sur Charaachar Chaayo.” It is a ‘niranjani’ bhajan, which means the lyrics are devotional and relate to the supreme spirit without any objectification. Pandit Gurav engages in a motley of morning ragas as he sings and improvises this bhajan and depicts the transcendental nature of music and its relation to mortals.
Gurdain Rayatt captures the various moods of the recital with a sound accompaniment. He strikes the chord in every piece displaying measured elements of his training. His laykari is commendable and he forms deep connections with the lighter pieces with mindful tayyari and a distinctly soulful sound. Milind Kulkarni captures the essence of each piece and reproduces his own phrases with striking melody and free-wheeling cadence.
Pandit Kaivalya Kumar Gurav (khayal)
Gurdain Rayatt (tabla)
Milind Kulkarni (harmonium)
Seetal Dhadyalla & Kirutika Nadarajah (tanpuras)
Raag Gawati, Thaat: Khamaj, Samay: Late afternoon
Thumri in Mishra Khamaj
Tappa in Raag Khamaj
Niranjani Bhajan composed by Miraba