If you’re watching Omkar Dadarkar perform live or online, for the first time you will be surprised at the contrast between his young and cherubic looks, and the artistic maturity and elegance with which he sings.
Then all thoughts cease, as his music will take you to a higher realm. Omkar is an gifted singer whose sweeping command over every facet of classical vocalism is truly breathtaking. Ahead of the concert, City Express catches up with this talented artiste for a quick chat.
Cultural background of Sangeet Natak
Sangeet Natak in Maharashtra is about a 150 years old. It is a tradition that has been enriched by and popularised by a galaxy of legends including (Balgandharva, Chota Gandharv, Ram Marathe, Vasantrao Deshpande and Jeetendra Abhisheki). Essentially a performing art like opera, is evolved from a rich folk base to a classical and semi-classical form in which actors were required to sing as they performed. When drama companies came on to the scene in a big way, they appointed some of the great musicians who had settled down in Maharashtra, such as Ustad Abdul Kareem Khan, to tutor these actors and stage performers. These masters put them through a very rigorous system of teaching and learning, gave them their compositions (bandishes) and as a result, these artistes had a strong foundation in Hindustani Classical Music.
About his gurus
I became a shishya of my bua, Padma Shri Vidushi Manik Varma, who represented the Kirana gharana style of singing. After training with her for seven years, I studied under the celebrated maestro of the Gwalior gharana Pt Yashwant Joshi for seven years. In 1999, I became a research scholar at the ITC Sangeet Research Academy, which is yet another milestone in my career. And then, I was blessed to be accepted by Pt Ulhas Kashalkar, my principal guru. I also began learning thumris from Girija Deviji and continue to learn from her even today. Each guru had his or her own style of teaching, you’re a sponge that soaks up all the nuances that go into different styles of singing. For me, it has been an extraordinary musical journey under the tutelage of these gurus.
The Gwalior gharana is the mother of all gharanas. In the kirana style for instance, there might be relatively less emphasis on alaap, the Agra gharana style of singing may tend to highlight dhrupad or lai kaari and the Jaipur style tends to present music focusing equally on sur and taal, say on a fifty-fifty basis. I would say that a rich blending of sorts, happens on an unconscious plane. You simply soak up all the rich elements of diverse styles of singing and presentation.
On Pt. Ulhas Kashalkar
What can I say about the genius of Pt. Ulhas Kashalkar. He is a fountainhead of knowledge and a veritable well-spring of creativity. He is the only artiste in India who can creatively blend and present the styles of singing associated with all the gharanas. I have always been influenced by his style of singing and God answered my prayers when Pt. Kashalkar agreed to teach me.
Association with Sangeet Research Academy
The Academy founded by Pandit Vijay Kichlu is doing phenomenal work to propagate the cause of classical music and several stalwarts are associated with it, including Hirabai Barodekar (Kirana Gharana), Latafat Hussain Khan (Agra Gharana), Ajoy Chakraborty (Patiala Gharana), Ulhas Kashalkar (Gwalior, Jaipur and Agra Gharanas), Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan (Kirana Gharana) and Vidushi Girija Devi of Benaras.