That Hindustani music has been influenced by other musical traditions is evident to those who choose to see beyond the narrow constraints of region, religion, language, community and such.

Hindustani music has likewise greatly enriched other musical expressions. One clear example is natya geet, or stage songs, from Marathi sangeet natak, or musical theatre. Hindustani musicians associated with Marathi natak mandalis, or theatre companies, taught actor-singers or themselves selected Hindustani bandishes, or compositions, that could be adapted for Marathi theatre. Among the musicians associated with the Marathi theatre in such roles were Balkrishnabuwa Ichalkaranjikar, Nissar Hussein Khan, Bhaskarbuwa Bakhale, Ramkrishnabuwa Vaze and Govindrao Tembe.

Today, we start a short series on Marathi stage songs that have been adapted from Hindustani music or bear a strong resemblance to Hindustani bandishes. This first episode features a composition in Kirwani, a raag incorporated into the Hindustani pantheon from the Carnatic system. The composition is set to Ektaal, a rhythmic cycle of 12 matras or time units.

The first rendition is by Rashid Khan, one of the most popular vocalists of our times from the Rampur-Sahaswan gharana.


The second rendition is by Farid Ayaz and Abu Mohammad, well-known qawwals from Pakistan.


The Marathi natya geet that closely resembles this composition is sung by Vasantrao Deshpande, who was equally famous for his renditions of khayal and theatre songs. This song was part of the play Sangeet Vidyaharan.


Also read: Listen: Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Narayan Bodas, Bhimsen Joshi demonstrate how expansive Ektaal is

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