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Straight from the art

DNIND4184 | 11/7/2011 | Author : Nivedita Kapoor | WC :479

In Indore to perform, flautist Rupak Kulkarni, slide guitarist Manish Pingle and tabla player Amit Kavthekar talked to After Hrs about training under legends and the future of classical music

He is one of the most acclaimed flautists of present times and has trained under none other than the legendary Pt Hariprasad Chaurasia. “Music has always been a part of my family, so I didn’t even realise when it became my life too,” said Rupak Kulkarni.
Despite his fame, Kulkarni credits all his success to the veterans, whom he refers to as siddh purush. “Musicians like Pt Ravi Shankar and Pt Chaurasia have taken Indian classical music across the world. We are just benefitting from the ground work they did,” he said, talking about the popularisation of classical music in the west.
But now, tabla player Amit Kavthekar insists, the next generation will have a tough job to find such acclaimed gurus to learn from. “Apart from how to play the instrument, our gurus taught us an entire way of life,” he explained, pointing out that the same is not possible in a class of just a few hours.
Even the way of riyaaz has changed over the years. “Now, it is done more to perform on stage than for one’s own satisfaction,” Kavthekar added, who has had the honour of learning under Ustad Allah Rakkha Khan and Ustad Zakir Hussain.
“While one cannot escape the change, it will definitely have an effect,” Kavthekar insisted. But despite this, slide guitarist Manish Pingle is enthused with the response classical music has across the world.
“Especially in Europe, despite being unaware of the intricacies of Indian music, people have a deep appreciation of it,” he said. This Indore-based artist, who now has students from the world over, believes that this popularity, if coupled with proper investment in the sector can take classical music to new heights.
“India is known all over the world for its rich culture. This is what we need to promote and preserve,” he argued. “Also, we need to take it to the masses and the younger generation, giving impetus to activities under organisations like SPIC MACAY,” chipped in Kulkarni.
Determined to pass on the knowledge they gained from their legendary teachers, these artists still remember the lessons taught to them, even today. “My guru told me to perform in such a way that people call me again and again. I have always kept that in mind and try to do my best each time,” added Kulkarni. “Abbaji (Ustad Allah Rakkha Khan) used to always tell me to promote my art as much as possible and that is what I want to do now,” informed Kavthekar.
And what is the piece of advice they would extend to the younger generation? According to Pingle, it is the constant desire to learn that leads to success. “When at the top of his career with the Beatles, George Harisson came to India to learn music from Pt Ravi Shankar. That thirst for knowledge is what leads to greater achievements,” he emphasised.

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