Names of cities and towns in India have been used to project personalities from the past, who may serve the ideological stance of the political party in power. This has caused conflict not just among political parties but has even distressed citizens who may have been accustomed to another name for their city or town. This political one-upmanship has extended to street names as well.
But do we see political parties actively pushing for streets and cities to be named after personalities involved in culture, science or other spheres that impact lives of common people in multiple ways? For instance, how many street names have we come across that relate to musicians?
I have yet to come across concerted efforts made by those in power to acknowledge the contribution of those not involved in politics by naming cities and streets after them. There are instances of plaques being put up in some cities to mark buildings as erstwhile residences or workspaces of important personalities or as places that housed important institutions involved in various facets of public life other than politics. But this does not seem to be a pan-Indian policy.
Over the next few weeks, this column will feature some street names in Mumbai, which are related to Hindustani musicians and institutions.
To begin with, we visit a street at Mahim in central Mumbai named after eminent vocalist-composer Jagannathbuwa Purohit. It is called Pandit Gunidas Marg, using the pseudonym “Gunidas” that Purohit embedded in his khayal compositions.
According to the biographical information provided in his guru Vilayat Hussain Khan’s book Sangeetagyon ke Sansmaran, Purohit initially learnt music in Hyderabad from Muhammad Ali Khan of Sikrandra. Thereafter, he also learnt many compositions from Shabbu Khan of Delhi and from Wazir Khan of Gudiyani. But his major training was under Vilayat Hussain Khan of the Agra gharana. He also learnt some compositions from Azmat Hussain Khan.
Jagannathbuwa Purohit’s compositions have been made popular by his disciples, many of who became celebrated vocalists and gurus. But his compositions are also sung by others who have not learnt directly from him or from his disciples. An earlier edition of this column focused on Jog Kauns, a raag created by him.
But here are a few tracks featuring Jagannathbuwa Purohit in performance.
We begin with a vilambit or slow composition set to the 16-matra Teentaal in Shivmat Bhairav, a raag prescribed for the morning.
The next one is a drut khayal composed by him in Multani. Set to Teentaal, the composition is popular among many vocalists.
Here is a traditional composition in Shyam Kalyan set to vilambit Ektaal. Some vocalists sing the same composition in medium-tempo Teentaal.
Jagannathbuwa Purohit sings a thumri set to Jat taal in the next track. The thumri has traces of Khamaj and Maand.
The final track has his rendition of Swanandi, a raag composed by him.
One of India’s leading tabla players, Aneesh Pradhan is a widely recognised performer, teacher, composer and scholar of Hindustani music. Visit his website here.