Born out of the parent scale Kafi, Raag Shahana is an upper-tetra chord dominant midnight raga that draws its haunting strains from the characteristics of Bhimpalasi and Bageshree. In this video filmed and recorded live at an outdoor location in Bangalore, India, the brilliant sitar exponent Anupama Bhagwat creates an exquisite tapestry of the raga with a brief jod – the section in a sitar recital that comes after the introduction or alap of the raga and carries within it, a linear pulse without any rhythmic accompaniment by any percussion instrument.
As she approaches the climax of her short presentation, she adds trills to the clearly carved-out bols (syllables) on the linear time-line, tapping the section on the sitar that joins the pumpkin and the neck. Her raagdaari (loyalty to the grammar of the raga) is sound and her approach highly evocative.
The name ‘Shahana’ is of Persian origin and literally translates to ‘royal demeanour.’It is a close cousin of the more famous Raag Bageshri, sharing the same notes (SRgmPDnS), but focuses much more on shuddh Dha as a melodic end-point. It is often considered to be part of the Kanada family - performers often descend with the characteristic phrase nP, gmRS.
Sitarist-scholar Deepak Raja notes that the raga is mentioned in medieval texts as being related to a Persian melody known as firodast, and that poetry set to it often features imagery related to spring and the monsoon season. It is not to be confused with the unrelated Carnatic Raga Sahana.
Anupama Bhagwat’s sitar style combines the best elements of the Imdadkhani gharana - structured alap playing, rapid taans, and a detailed master of gayaki ang (vocal style). Her varied approach reflects the eclecticism of her guru Bimalendu Mukherjee, a sitarist who also played veena, surbahar, sarod, sursingar, mandra bahar, dilruba, esraj, tar shehnai, and pakhawaj. She won All India Radio’s sitar competition in 1994, and has participated in fusion projects such as Global Rhythms and Shanti. Now based in Bangalore, she continues to refine her style while touring to acclaim.
Anupama Bhagwat (sitar)
Raag Shahana, Thaat: Kafi, Samay: midnight
Recorded on location in Bangalore