Aur Taal: Innovation of a kind
-- By Mohan Nadkarni
A noticeable feature of the post freedom musical soene was the new spurt of creative activity in many directions winds of change brought in a spirit of internationalism with a compulsive urge on the part of artistes composers and innovators to explore new avenues for the expression and contribution of Indian classical music to the world at large No less significant was the role played by commercial recording companies to popularize a variety of musical innovations thought their discreleases these are far too many to permit individual mention.
But special mention has to be made of the double cassette album titled 'Saaz Raag Aur Taal' produced by Chandiramani Enterprises and released by CBS gramophone record and tapes (india) Ltd The repertoire is sure to strike the listener as one of kind seeking to view a new dimension to the very concept of instrumental music here in deed is a presentation in which 13 raags are played on 13 instrument and set to 13 taals on seven percussion drums along with 13 instruments which provide side rhythms.
The instrument employed include both popular and rarely heard ones so is the case with percussions the raags and taal equally heartwarming is the billing of top talent and the up and coming breed representing fresh talent but not the least is the ample evidence of exemplary teamwork that has gong into the marking of this album the credit for which is due to the leader of the team pandit vinayak vora in essence the repertoire is much as to compel at tention from all sections of music lovers because of its highly innovative character as much as by its musical and rhythmical virtues Incidentally chandirramani enterprises is in fact a one man show run by an elderly . music -loving and culture-conscious sindhi gentleman although he is primarily engaged in manufacturing a variety of textile chemicals he is amazingly versatile in his raage of interest a linguist he knows languages as diverse as German and binciongsian besides english and urdu to him goes the credit of being the first indian to have translate his other literary outputs inculde english translation of the 'Hitopadesh'.
This is G, L.Chandiramani for you but his involvement in a rather unlikely field like music puts him in a class by himself and thereby hangs a talk.Born at Lahore ,now in Pakistan Govind Lilaram Chandiramani had bengali neighbours who were extremely fond of tagore music and literature while still a boy his father an amateur sitar -player bought a small harmonium for him that marked the youngster's involvernent in music which now has on his own admission remained a "magnificent obsession"with him.
Later, on moving to Bombay chandiramani sought out a bengali teacher j k banner popularly known as Kakuei who taught him tagore music and Hindi songs still later he obtained guidance in composing musicform the eminent music directors bulo c rani who scored the music for more than 80 films including the famous jogin and also the famous qawwali song Humein to loot liya husn walon ne.
During his tutelage with rani chandriramani also sought tutelage with the celebrated singing thespain of Maharashtra I't krishnarao chonkar to benefit from his valued guidance in hindustani classical music and taal shastra chonkar had made his mark by his long association with the legendary bal gandharva and besides being a leading concert vocalist he was an erudite scholar in his own right.
It is pertinent to mention at this stage that chandiramani was deeply interested in different rhythms even during his study of tagore music as he puts it "I was acutely disteressed to find that our traditional rhythms a fine heritage was being neglected". So it was that he himself undertook to study them by persuading chonkar to help him in his endeavor towards restoring our heritage of taal vide to its pristine glory.
Chandiramani's studentship with Krishnaraoji strikes the keynote of his contribution in his chosen field the maestro who is well past his 80,has allhis faculties still intact and continues to guide his devoted protégé chandiramani has not only assimilated some of the most in tricate and rarely heard 'taals'but has also,under his mentor's guidance harnessed them to classical vocal and instrumental music.
Symbolic of this exemplary 'gury-shishya' relationship was the first cassette produced by Krishnaraoji, at the instance of his disciple, which covered 20 'raags', two from each, of the 10 'thaals', set against 20 different types of 'taals'. Then came another cassette featuring the leading vocalist from the younger generation, Shruti Sadolikar, through Krishnaraoji's persuasion. The artiste her presents vocal expositions of 'khayals' and 'thumris' to lend support to the various 'taals; along the lines of the first cassette this was followed by a series of 13 cassettes featuring several vocalists and instrumentalists and presenting vocal instrumental and percussion music of a wide variety,the creation of the repertoire titled saaz raag has faal must be rated as the hight point in chandiramani achievement Truth as they say is stranger than fiction much more so when one hears from chandiramant that taal was initially his weakest point and that it was his compulsive urgeto overcome this shortcomlng that led him to pursuing 'taal shastra' as a major interest, even while he managed to continue his involvement in varying spheres of human endeavour!
It is significant that he has sub-titled saaz raag aur taal as "lucky thirteen "with a disarming candour soft spoken modest chandiramani asser's that 13 has been his lucky number that exhorted why he has made the earlier series of cassetes to compromise his "lucky number".
It will be only fair and proper to mention briefly his other interests that keep him engaged in his lees musical times first comes his unquenchable urge for knowledge and more knowledge and its propagation among people his deep concern for the proper development of children by familiarising them within our glorious past culminated in the publication of language versions of Sanskrit classics like the I"anchatantara and the Hitopadesh among others stories from the Hitopadesh are recorded in english on commercial cassettes with their printed versions so that children can read and listen at the same time.
Chandiramani gratefully acknowledges the inspiration he derived form his father advice who according to him exhorted his son than "always to something that that has not been done before.. and remember that in every field of life there are experts go to them bow before them and them and they will surely gulde you willingly."
Chandiramani association and tutelag with Prof. S B Hudlikar the celebrated german sanskrit and martathi scholar has to be understood and appreciated against this background thought it might look a fortuitous circumstance Prof. Hudlikar inspired him to undertake stud y and research in various languages according to chandiramani Prof. Hudlikar expressed his acute distress that the Germans translated sanskrit classics like the panchatantra in german but no indian had done anything in that direction chandiramani took up the challenge and with the help of his mentor translator the panchatantra in english and german panchatantra is distributed by rub &co wail Hitopadesh will be marketed by jaico by the end of this year.
It was his chance tour to Indonesia that brought chandiramani face to face with the tradition of Indonesian literature he discovered that there were versions of the mahabharata and the ramayana in Indonesian which debated back to a thousand years this was enough to spur him into learning Indonesian.
And all this whole he remains engaged in his business of manufacturing textile chemicals nothing indeed would seem impossible for a workaholic like him because he is now working on getting his music cassettes into western notations he is also busy evolving a phonetic script for the smdhi language happily married with two married daughters Chandiramani today looks a every inch a sthitaprajna described in the bhagawad gita "Do thy duty, regardless of reward".