Last night Ajoy Chakraborty gave a lecture demonstration on Patiala gayaki at NCPA. I like the idea of lecture demonstrations and especially have enjoyed those of Ramashreya Jha and Arvind Parikh (in his elaborate several part series on Vilayet Khan). Ajoy Charkaborty’s though was not in that league. It was a more or less scripted lec-dem that gives a superficial view of Patiala gharana offering few interesting insights, if any at all. His was an unctuous performance praising Bade Ghulam ali Khan and his daughter, Kaushiki. He himself of course is really insignificant (of course- “one paisa”). There is nothing wrong with praising the great Bade Ghulam ali Khan but very little was said about others from Patiala gharana. He stated that at SRA in Kolkatta when he was associated with it (15 years I believe) the only research that had been done was on Patiala gharana, and that other research on gharanas was planned but…… If this is the case, isn’t it odd for an institution called the Sangit Research Academy? What was the result of the research on Patiala that he was so involved in? He played a recording of exerpts of Yunus Hussain Khan commenting on aspects of a recording of Bade Ghulam ali Khan. Yunus Khan was a great scholar and musician but the very short examples such as a passage that was supposed to be a reflection of Tanras Khan’s gayaki was unconvincing, at least to me. I do not really understand the idea in a lec-dem to just play recordings through from beginning to end. I can do that at home. Stopping passages and commenting, highlighting things that we as uninitiates in the gharana may not hear is more interesting. Although a recording of Ahiq ali and Umeed ali was played there was no comment on it. What about the historical context- especially concerning Ashiq ali Khan? What about Amanat ali- Fateh ali, Nazakat-Salamat (granted not Patiala, but still), Mohammed Sarhang? I am a fan of Ajoy Chakraborty’s singing and I do not doubt his knowledge is great. The ingratiating phoniness of his manner and the promotion of his daughter put me off. Was it necessary too, after singing a bandish in bhairavi as a request at the end to have his student sing Bade Ghulam ali Khan’s sohini bandish from Mughal-e-Azam virtually note for note? We had already seen that his student was very good. AC also said that he had some 70 odd recordings of Bade Ghulam ali khan and said these recordings should be avaliable to the public, that there is no point in keeping them in private hands. If that is how he feels I wonder why these recordings are not out on the internet! Here is a truly awful version imho of one of the most beautiful famous thumris of Bade Ghulam ali khan sung by Kaushiki Chakraborty: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jKrOOO4kBw&playnext=1&list=PL6031AF232F169B13&index=45.