Raag Khem Kalyan is a variant of Yaman Kalyan. Ashwini Bhide Deshpande describes it as “Yaman Kalyan with a twist”. She sings a brief alap and then the vilambit bandish which is set to taal Addha – a variant of Teental. She offers a similar description for Addha, calling it “Teental with a twist.” Deploying simple and beautiful vistaar and bol banav, she surfs the lilting gait of the tala in her improvisations.
Addha’s thekas (beats) do not coincide with the 16 counts of the time-cycle but sashay within it, creating exciting, undulated movements.
Deshpande terminates most of the phrases at Re in the lower octave and as she implements the raga, the intersection of Kalyan ang in the descent with the carefully carved out phrases avoiding shudh or teevra Ma (pure or sharp 4th) in the ascent is fascinating. In the upper octave, she attaches a slightly longer durational value to teevra Ma (m) in the S’NDm phrases. One might expect a switch to Hamsadhwani as she descends, but this is when she pivots to Kalyan ang and goes back to the hexatonic ascent of Khem Kalyan.
Upon the ‘farmaaish’ (request) of Sukanya Shankar who was present in the audience, Deshpande presents Raag Janasammohini, another uncommon raga. This concert in 2018 took place in London during the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations in India that marks the birthday of the elephant-headed Hindu deity – Ganesha. Deshpande recalls the occasion of ‘Anant Chaturdashi’ which fell on the same day when the Ganesha idols were immersed into the rivers back in India, bringing the 10-day celebrations to an auspicious end. She dedicates this section to Lord Ganesha and her Guru, presenting a madhyalay bandish in Rupak taal followed by a faster composition in drut Ektaal.
Deshpande quickly progresses to a lighter composition in Mishra Gaara – a ‘jhoola’ which literally means ‘swing’. Traditionally, a jhoola describes the romance between Lord Krishna and his beloved Radha seated on a swing that is tied across the branches of a burflower tree in full bloom – a scene that symbolises monsoons and the solace it brings to the parched soil and soul. She embellishes the composition with graceful expansion of its lyrics.
Deshpande concludes her recital on a reverberating, soulful note with a Kabir bhajan, the 15th century Sufi saint of whom, she is a self-proclaimed follower. Vinod Lele brings power and subtlety in measured nuances to the entire recital, lending volumes as a team-player. Vinay Mishra’s fillers are exuberant and full of consummate support for the recital.
Ashwini Bhide Deshpande (khayal)
Vinod Lele (tabla)
Vinay Mishra (harmonium)
Gunwant Dhadyalla & Seetal Dhadyalla (tanpuras)
Raag Khem Kalyan, Thaat: Kalyan, Samay: early evening
Raag Janasammohini, Thaat: Khamaaj, Samay: early evening
Jhoola in Mishra Gaara
Kabir Bhajan in Raag Bhairavi, Thaat: Bilawal, Samay: early morning