We conclude our series on bird representations in Hindustani compositions and raags with the ninth episode returning to the papiha or hawk-cuckoo, a bird we had referred to peripherally in the very first episode. As I had mentioned in some of the previous episodes, references to more than one bird or even to animals and insects may appear in a single composition to recreate the natural ambience of a particular season that reminds the protagonist of the separated lover.
We begin this episode with a track featuring the famous Gwalior vocalist DV Paluskar, who sings a popular drut or fast-paced composition composed by Mahavat/Mahabat Khan “Manrang” in Lalit, a raag prescribed for the morning.
It is set to the 16-matra Teentaal. The song-text describes the papiha, koel (cuckoo), mor (peacock), jhingar/jhingur (cricket), daadur (frog), crying aloud, almost in delight because the lovers are going to be together again.
Begum Akhtar presents a saavan, a song-form prescribed for the monsoon. The song-text describes the protagonist appealing to the papiha to “speak” softly, implying that the papiha’s cries reminds the protagonist of separation from the lover.
A popular bandish or composition in Sur Malhar or Surdasi Malhar, a raag prescribed for the monsoon, is sung by Kirana gharana maestro Bhimsen Joshi. Set to Teentaal, the song-text describes the monsoon ambience and includes reference to the papiha towards the end of the antara or the second part of the bandish. It also mentions the koel.
The musicians in the ensemble are Purushottam Walawalkar on the harmonium and Mohan Sabnis on the tabla.
We end with a well-known drut bandish set to Teentaal in Mia ki Malhar, also a raag prescribed for the monsoon. This is sung by the respected vocalist and guru Ramkrishnabuwa Vaze.
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.