Indian classical music got B’wood-like attention three decades ago

Vastavam web: Indian classical music is not a dying art form and it received three decades ago the kind of attention that Bollywood and the fashion industry are getting today, says sarod legend Ustad Amjad Ali Khan.He also says that it is the responsibility of the artiste to make the youth relate to their music.Having known these stalwarts personally, he recalls anecdotes and details about their individual musical styles, bringing them alive.
The 12 eminent musicians featured in the book, published by Penguin, are Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Amir Khan, Begum Akhtar, Alla Rakha, Kesarbai Kerkar, Kumar Gandharva, M.S.”I disagree with those who say that Indian classical music is a dying art form. We must understand a few things here. It was never for the masses to begin with. It was originally performed only in private mehfils, with concert hall performances being a recent phenomenon. Today, classical musicians perform at venues like Carnegie Hall, Royal Albert Hall and Sydney Opera House to packed auditoriums,” he writes in the introduction.
“It is the responsibility of the artiste to make the youth relate to their music. The kind of attention that Bollywood and the fashion industry are receiving today from mainstream media, Indian classical music go three decades ago! In the 1960s and ’70s, musicians would play ragas for two to three hours. Frankly, after maybe an hour, it was all repetition.”Back in the day, many renowned vocalists often recorded songs, both devotional and nationalistic, on 78 RPMs and EPs.
We can never forget the divine rendition of DV Paluskar’s Payoji mainay or Omkarnath Thakur’s rousing Vande mataram.Contemporary classical vocalists too have contributed to popularising devotional songs and bhajans,” he writes.”The closest an instrumentalist came to playing songs would be lines of popular thumri songs. However, to play a song exactly as it was composed, note for note, was not the mandate of instrumentalists, and even if it was, the version would keep changing, almost like a game of Chinese whispers!”