This week we move to the fourth episode in our series on Bhairavi, a raag prescribed for the morning but one that has come to occupy the unique position of being treated as the finale for most concerts, irrespective of the time of day. Today’s episode highlights the use of Bhairavi for the vocal form dadra, a sub-genre in the thumri repertoire.
Essentially, dadras differ structurally from thumris and are supposed to be presented differently too. The rhythmic canvas chosen for dadras is usually that of the Dadra taal, which consists of six matras or time units or Kaherva taal, which consists of eight matras. There are some thumris set to these taals too, but the gait of a dadra is usually quicker and the melodic elaboration is shorter each time and more closely bound to the taal. There are, of course, occasions when some performers may choose to move away from these characteristics, but by far, these are defining elements of the dadra form.
When vocalists sing dadras in Bhairavi, there could be a greater fascination to explore the extremely flexible contours of the latter moving away from the demands of the dadra form. This may result in extended melodic elaboration, often resembling thumri presentation.
We will listen to a selection of tracks that demonstrate ways in which vocalists over the past several decades have chosen to navigate the interplay between the structural demands of the musical form and the flexibility of the raag.
The first track is an iconic rendition of a dadra in Bhairavi by the Agra gharana maestro Faiyaz Khan.
The next track features Pakistani vocalist Iqbal Bano, whose rendition of Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s poem Hum Dekhenge has become a source of inspiration for several protests held across the country against recent amendments in the citizenship laws. This track is a dadra composed in Bhairavi.
While the earlier dadras were set to the Dadra taal, the next two are set to Kaherva. The first of these features Rasoolan Bai, one of the important specialists of the thumri-dadra and allied forms. Renowned vocalist Begum Akhtar sings a composition on the second track, a version of which was included in the film Dedh Ishqiya a few years ago.
We conclude with a dadra in Bhairavi sung by Shobha Gurtu. Here, the tabla changes briefly from Dadra to Kaherva in the laggi section that brings the track to a close. She is accompanied on the sarangi by Ramesh Mishra and on the tabla by Aneesh Pradhan.