Tribute to Pandit Kishan Maharaj
- Vijay Shanker

March 20, 2012

L to R: Nandu Dhaneshwar, Pt Arvind Parekh,
Pt Purushottam Walawalkar (seated), Pt Satish Vyas and Pt Balakrishna Iyer
Rich tributes were paid to the great tabla maestro, late Pandit Kishan Maharaj as his birth anniversary was observed with a classical music program on February 22 at Ravindra Natya Mandir, Mumbai. The program was organized by leading suburban music organization known as Iyer Foundation. Iyer Foundation is completely devoted to classical music and dance and has been established by renowned tabla maestro Pandit Balakrishna Iyer and supported by his vocalist wife Jyoti Phagre Iyer. The highlight of the program was the felicitation of 92 year old harmonium wizard Pandit Purushottam Walawalkar, who has accompanied several performers in his illustrious career.

Pt Kishan Maharaj belonged to the Banaras Gharana and was acknowledged as one of the best tabla maestros India has ever produced. Besides providing the rare solo platform status to tabla, Pt Kishan was known for his subtle and artistic style of playing the tabla. He has accompanied several prominent performers like Kathak queen Sitara Devi, Pandit Ravishankar and several others.

The program commenced with a unique tabla recital by veteran Pandit Sadanand Naimpalli who was greatly influenced by the style of Pt Kishan. He demonstrated the subtle nuances of his style and the creative aspect of playing the tabla. Pt Sadanand has accompanied great musicians like Zarin Daruwala, DK Datar, Nityanand Haldipur and Pt Ronu Mazumdar. He was supported by Jayesh Rege on tabla and Samir Naimpalli on harmonium. Flautist Abhay Phagre played a rare jugalbandi with sarangi maestro Faroque Latif in raga Ragashree which was impressive for the alaap and unusual rendering. They were supported on the tabla by Omkar Gulvady.

The program also featured a vocal recital by Ashwini Bhide who was accompanied by Vishwanath Shirodkar on the tabla. A wonderful program indeed.  

Vijay Shankar is a Kuchipudi and Kathakali exponent, teacher, bilingual journalist, arts critic and actor.