Wednesday, 11 September 2013

She came but she never sang here

One of the legendary Hindustani singers of our times has been Gangubhai Hangal (1913-2009). Born in Dharwad, she was an exceptionally talented singer of the Kirana Gharana and her range and mastery left one spellbound.
Though she gave hundreds of concerts and attended scores of seminars and workshops, she never sang at the Rama Seva Mandali of Chamarajpet. This was not because she was not invited. She was invited several times but she could not make it to the programme for a variety of reasons. And the one time she did, she came only to watch and not sing.
The Rama Seva Mandali of Chamarajpet has a fairly long history of organising concerts on the occasion of Rama Navami in March and April every year. It has today become one of the leading organizers of Rama Navami concerts in Bangalore and almost all legendary singers and musicians have graced its celebrations.
Such musicians and singers include M.S. Subbulakshmi, M.L. Vasanth Kumari, Balamurali Krishna, Maharajapuuram Santanam, D.K. Pattamal, Sudha Raghunathan,  Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, T. Chowdaiah, Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, T.R. Mahalingam, Chittoor Subramaniam Pillai, Veene Doreswamy Iyengar, Yesudas  and a host of other Carnatic artistes.
If you take the field of Hindustani music, artistes like Kumar Gandharva, Mallikarjuna Mansoor, Bismillah Khan, Alla Rakha, Ali Akbar Khan, Bade Gulam Ali Khan, Bhimsen Joshi, Basavaraja Rajguru have all graced the festival concerts.
However, the only shining star of Hindustani music that is missing in the annals of the Rama Seve Mandali rolls of honor is Gangubhai Hangal.
Once Gangubhai Hangal showed up at the concert. This was not to sing but listen to Bismillah Khan who was giving a concert. The moment passed and neither the organisers nor Hangal could plan her concert at the Mandali festival.
Her constant tours, subsequent ill health kept her away from the concerts. She passed away in Hubli of cardiac arrest in 2009 and even today the Mandali organizers regret not having been able to arrange for a concert at one of their annual events.
Of course, this does not mean that Gangubhai Hangal, the nightingale of Hindustani music, did not give concerts in Bangalore. She had a huge fan following in Bangalore and she did give many performances but none at the Rama Seva Mandali.


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