Musical confluence

Musical confluence

A talented and versatile singer of the younger generation, Subhra Guha is a well-known exponent of the Agra Gharana.

Gifted with a rich, melodious voice, she is equally proficient in khayal, thumri and dadra.

In addition, she has a vast repertoire of bandishes.

What makes Guha’s rendition style unique is her mature juxtaposition of her feminine charm with masculine grandeur that’s inherent of the Agra Gharana.

Her clear and full-throated voice effortlessly soars from one octave to the next, mesmerising her aficionados across the globe.

Coming from a music-loving family, Guha started showing signs of interest at a tender age. She was fortunate to get a host of well-known teachers.

To start with, she received her earliest training from late Satish Bhowmick.

During her growing years, Guha took advanced training from one of the learned pandits of the Agra Gharana, Sunil Bose.

Later in 1982, she joined the prestigious Sangeet Research Academy in Kolkata, where Bose was one of the gurus.

For 10 years she received uninterrupted training from him as a scholar of the academy.

Subsequently, she also received training from the stalwart K G Ginde.

She had not imagined that she would be fortunate enough to receive the guidance of late D T Joshi on musicality and aesthetics.

If  Guha learnt the art of thumri rendition from Joshi, Pt Vijay Kichlu helped her form the distinct structure in her style of gayaki.

Tunes of accomplishment

Today, Guha is acknowledged as one of the finest thumri singers of the Poorab Ang among the younger generation of singers.

Her voice is strikingly tuneful, exhibiting exquisite tonal malleability, and is remarkably suited for khayal recital.

Her style of rendition displays a mellow blending of vidya, impeccable raagdari and a rich gayaki, which is both creative and appealing.

Her collection of rare thumri, dadra, kajri, chaiti etc in pure Benaras tradition is also matchless.

Equally impressive is her exhaustive collection of some rare raagas and compositions.

As she says, “Though what I sing is Hindustani classical music, the repertoire is very vast. It encompasses so much — from old to new, light to serious, introspective to entertaining. Between dhrupad, khayal, thumri, dadra, tappa, there’s a bit of everything.”

She finds an element of fun as well as divinity in her art.

“Have fun while learning. Enjoy the beauty and the challenges of the music you learn. Then share it, in concerts or teaching. In my singing I always feel that this art is divine,” she explains, adding, “Hindustani music is so broad and varied that it’s hard to pin down or narrow it down to any one particular form. But one thing you can always sense about is that, though the roots are very ancient, it’s a living, evolving music.”

That perhaps explains how, over the years, Guha has intelligently maintained the balance between the two streams of khayal and thumri, keeping intact the academic excellence with a measured blend of aesthetics and musical semantics.

“The beauty of music is that it can pierce through any form, irrespective of place, age or gender. Certain cities, concert halls and some communities have knowledgeable audiences, and it’s very rewarding to sing for them.

Each concert is different and has its own charm. It gives me plenty of memories to cherish,” she says.

She confesses that her journey has not been very smooth, but it has been very challenging and she has enjoyed every aspect of it.

As her admirers rightly point out, just like her extraordinary journey in music, her open-throated akar, her taans and bol-bants are extraordinary features of her gayaki.

Her command over laya is outstanding.

She is known for regaling her audience with her unencumbered movement in all the octaves in Raga Jaijawanti.

Precision in the notes, command over the rhythm and an excellent rapport with the accompanists are also some of the impressive features of her presentation.

Role of a teacher

Sensitive to her art form, Guha wants to make serious efforts towards creating a new breed of accomplished students.

She says, “As far as my future plan is concerned, I will make efforts to protect the vidya or learning of Indian classical music through my competent students.”

No wonder, despite having hectic tours to perform across the globe, Guha also finds time to teach her students.

“My performances keep me busy. But as a student of Indian classical music, I see it as my aesthetic responsibility to pass on whatever I have learnt from my gurus to the next generation. Nothing surpasses the pleasure that one derives in initiating the young generation to our culture and art, and instill in them how to love it as much as we and our ancestors have in the past.”

Does she dream ahead? “Well, one of my dreams is to fill divinity through my music. What more can I say?”

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