BENGALURU: Melody, literature, skillful presentation of a story and good acting makes for a pleasing Katha Keertana performance. Surmani Dattatreya Velankar, began his career as a Katha Keertana artist when he was nine years old.
His early training of Katha Keertana started off at home, under the tutelage of his father, Lakshmandas Velankar, a popular Katha Keertana exponent himself and his father’s guru Saint Bhadragiri Dasa.
Velankar started his early schooling at the Ramakrishna Balakashrama in Mangaluru where Swami Jitakamanandaji and Sri Achyutadasji, upon hearing his voice, encouraged him to learn Hindustani classical music under the veteran Hindustani Classical Vocalist, Pt.Vinayak Torvi (Gwalior-Kirana Gharana).
His journey as a Hindustani Classical Musician began from then on and after twenty years of constant learning from his guru, he earned awards.
He compares the art of Katha Keertana to a garland stating, “If literature, story, rendering or acting are flowers, then music is what threads them in a garland.
An ‘A’ graded artist from All India Radio and Doordarshan, Velankar has won many prizes and titles.
He has passed his ‘Vidwat’ from Government of Karnataka, earned titles such ‘Sangeet Prabhakar’ from Prayag Sangeet Samiti Allahabad, ‘Surmani’ title from the Sursingar Samsad from Mumbai and ‘Bhajan Bhushan’ from the Maharashtra Association, Chennai.
With the intent of passing on the legacy of Katha Keertana, Hindustani classical music, and fine arts, he started the Shadja Kala Kendra Trust in Malleswaram, Bengaluru on September 2011 to teach students.
His popularity as a musician has earned him students in Boston, in the United States.
“I teach students in Boston through Skype. I have been teaching my students from many years and it has been a continuous process of learning,” he adds.
He is presently pursuing PhD in Katha Keertana subject and upon completion; he has plans of conducting workshops regarding the same in schools and colleges.
His upcoming projects include a Katha Kirtan venture called ‘Swami Vivekananda Katha Kirtan Yatra’.