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Dhrupad cooking, or happy to teach!

DNAHM22781 | 8/24/2009 | Author : Richa Shukla | WC :365

You moved abroad to propagate dhrupad and then came back to teach in your own country?
Yes, I was settled in Austria and busy teaching there and elsewhere. In 1980 filmmaker Mani Kaul approached me to do the music for his film based in Madhya Pradesh. When I went to Bhopal, the government asked me to teach dhrupad there. I moved back to take charge of this gurukul, the first to teach dhrupad, because I wanted to propagate the soul of sangeet. This continued for 26 years, but then things changed and I decided to quit.

And then you moved to teaching dhrupad at IIT, Bombay… how come?
It’s a fact of life that dhrupad is not simply a musical form, but the mother of music. Dhrupad Sansar, the brainchild of the director IIT, was started under the cell for human values to create appreciation for the Indian classical arts among students, to develop an aesthetic sense of life in them. I taught there for four years. But it did not work for long.

Do you find any difference in the approach of Indian and foreign students?
I feel that foreign students are more focussed on the subtle notes, the shruti, of sangeet.

Are you satisfied with the way the art is treated?
Mostly, I travel to perform all over the world. But I also teach dhrupad at the gurukul started by my elder brother Ustaad ZM Dagar, near Panvel in Mumbai. At the moment, I have 14 foreign students. There is a whole new generation of kids coming up to learn, although the patronage of gunijankhana of the state times is no longer there.

What do you think of the state of dhrupad in Rajasthan, which has given renowned artists to the country?
Rajasthan has a rich cultural tradition, be it in terms of music, painting or any other form of art. Unfortunately, institutions like Sangeet Natak Akademi are headed by people who do not even know the seven notes, forget preserving traditional art and culture! Sadly, people also do not encourage girls to learn dhrupad. Their first reaction is ‘kya karogi sangeet seekh kar, doctor bano, engineer bano… it is enough to dampen their spirits.

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