Dr Mohankumar Darekar – Interview
Interview Regarding Performance on 12th of December 2008 at Savai Gandharva Music Festival

Dr Darekar, you were actually writing the critics for Lokmat paper on the performers of this year’s Savai Gandharva Music Festival. Will you tell us how it happened that you got to sing at the Festival on last Friday? You weren’t scheduled for this year, right?

Dr Darekar:

Well, when Shrinivas Joshi, the Secretary of the Arya Prasarak Mandal, called me in the morning of the 12th and asked whether I would sing in place of Devaki Pandit who had got a very bad throat, naturally, I was very surprised and I told him: ‘The fact that you noticed me sitting in front of you and more so that you are inviting me, is a very great honour for me.’ He did not ask any details, what I would sing, nothing, he just asked about my preference regarding the accompanists and Mr Aravind Kadgaonkar and Sudhir Nayak were decided upon.

Interviewer:  Why, do you think, did Shrinivas Joshi invite you?
Dr Darekar: His thinking is very broad and his first priority is the support and enhancement of music, good music for that matter. In this particular case, he wanted to include a follower of Abhisheki’s style.

How do you mentally prepare for a situation like this, mustering the strength and determination to sing on the spur of the moment?

DrDarekar: Behind me, there is the greatness of my Guruji. He taught me the enormous power of regular practice (i.e. every day without fail) and for the last 25 years I am following this precious advise. If you are really lost in your practice, you will not think of anything else, not even of food or drink. Because of this habit I am ready to sing at any time.
Interviewer: What happened after your telephone conversation with Shrinivasjí?
Dr Darekar:

After that the news spread quickly among the students and colleagues who started to come to my house to expressed their joy about the good news. So this went on up to twelve o’clock. Then I said: ‘We have to prepare something.’ A discussion started, and we decided on Madhuvantí because I was to perform at 5 or 5:30 in the afternoon, the appropriate time for this rága. We practised a little and then we all went there, at 4 o’clock, wasn’t it?


Yes, but Sir, you did not sing rága Madhuvantí. What made you change your mind?

Dr Darekar:

We then started to tune the instruments in the green-room. At that time Sudhir came into the room and told me that Prasad Khaparde, who was singing before me, was presenting Multaní. And these do not go well together, one after another. So Madhuvantí was out, and I went to find out from Shrikant Deshpande, who was scheduled to perform after me, what he had planned to sing. It turned out that my second thoughts – Púriyádhanáshrí or Marvá – would interfere with his plan to sing Púriyá Kalyán since these rágas are very closed to each other. Then he suggested that: ‘Gavatí is a rága of your tradition, your Guruji’s favourite rága. If you are comfortable with it why don’t you present it today?’ – So that was decided. That was five or maybe ten minutes before the performance.

Interviewer: Did you recently sing this rága?
Dr Darekar: In very olden days I sang it, ten years back or so – it is an uncommon rága and in teaching mostly commonly sung rágas are used. It was in Goa, in Vasko, where I sang it. By the way, after that concert I got the instant feedback from some people who told me: ‘It was so nice, we felt like attending Savai Gandharva Festival right here.’

But the bandish, the text, how did you remember the words?

Dr Darekar:

Oh, that I recollected on stage. I did not try to remember it beforehand. I just went on stage and started and the memory came. That was something  – God’s blessing, I think.

Interviewer: Thank you, Sir.

Interview on 15th of  December 2008 by Sophia Rix


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