The Darbhanga tradition of dhrupad gayaki combines melody, rhythm and poetry to create a powerful style. It follows two schools of dhrupad syllables - the Khandarvani and Gauharvani that synthesize the poetry and melody into an astounding interpretation of dhrupad through intense rhythmic elaboration. Pandit Ram Kumar Mallick and Samit Mallick are leading exponents of this gharana. In this Director’s Cut concert, they present two morning ragas – Lalit and Bhairav.
Lalit is elaborated with a patient alap that gradually reveals its texture, first in the lower octave and then unfolds one note at a time over the middle octave. With a combination of Khandarvani and Gauharvani syllables, a linear pulse is introduced wherein, ample emphasis is laid on the lower tetra chord - the hot-bed on which Lalit unfurls its wings for flight. The pulse quickens, introducing the jod.
Pandit Mallick’s voice has a husky charm which couples with Samit’s energy and groove to lay out an intricate design of the jhalla in Darbhanga style. Their crisp delivery of the syllables along with heavy-set and meend-based gamaks build the rendition into an intense, condensed body that embodies the raga, technique and soul in apposite measures.
The composition in Lalit is set to a 12-beat cycle of Chaar taal. Surdarshan Chana joins in with a powerful and irresistibly mystique sound of the jori. His highly intuitive and poised accompaniment transforms the listener’s experience into one of transcendence. With spontaneous improvisation of the poetry around energetic rhythmic structures interwoven into the 12-beat cycle, the Mallicks make this piece immersive for the mind and soul.
This is followed by a dhamar in the same raga in 14 beats. The Mallicks give a glowing and extraordinary rendition of this composition with a potent combination of diligent vocal ornamentations and laykari.
The next raga, Bhairav, is first expanded in the same format as before, only this time, they stick to brevity and let go of the jhalla in the introductory section. The composition in a 10-beat cycle of Sool taal is conditioned with stately delivery of lyrics in buoyant gamaks over a primordial edifice of pure notes and dramatic delivery.
Chana’s support is unfaltering and steady. He disarms with dynamism as he blends with the deeply rhythmic nature of the Darbhanga delivery and softens his thekas according to the demand of the vocals.
As artistic director of Darbar Sandeep Virdee puts it, the enormity and diversity of Indian classical music is such that it is possible for us to present just the tip of the iceberg in one festival. But the highly evolved and remarkably transcendental Dhrupad is the genre that steals everyone’s heart every year.