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Durable Link to this BlogSunday, February 24, 2008

Arpit Shanbhag, A Promising Artist

Arpit, A promising Artiste (b. 1995)

During my recent visit to Honnavar, I came to know about a child artist of Hindustani Classical Music. He was reported to know 30 ragas, and 50 bandish (compositions); He can render a theme raga for more than an hour and sing with equal ease semi classical varieties, thumris, & bhajans. Curious to know more about the lad, I arranged his concert at our Krishna-Kalpa.

Arpit Shanbhag's performance was a revelation. In the evening raga he rendered, cows returning home after grazing on the banks of Jamuna river, led by Lord Krishna could be visualized. He sang with total concentration, unusual for his tender age. He is a standard example of inborn talent, early spotting, encouragement and proper training.

Son of Ramkrishna V. Shanbhag, an employee of Syndicate Bank at Honnavar, Arpit was born in 1995. Shanbhag is very fond of Hindustani Classical Music and was hankering to learn it as a lad. But he never had an opportunity. Instead, he attended several performances of great musicians, collected their cassettes and CDs, listened to them in his spare time and tried to understand the intricacies and nuances of music, himself. Arpit's love of music was detected early. As a child of five, he listened attentively to abhangs and devotional songs and reproduced them. It was surprising to note that he had an ear for tabla & kept the beat with gestures. Shanbhag tried to get him lessons in music. He arranged for the Tabla lessons locally.

In Search of a Guru

But with his small town bank-job it was difficult to get a Guru who could mould Arpit at such a tender age. At a concert in Haldipur, an artist told him about Narayan Pandit (75) son of great Violin Maestro Vighneshwar Shastri, who trained several musicians, including V.G. Jog. He did not play violin or teach any more but was presently busy with putting on paper hundreds of bandish he learnt from the great Kumar Gandharva. Narayan Pandit was a close associate of the Maestro for more than three decades. Fortunately, he was living in nearby Gokarn and is one of the Trustees of Snehakunj, an institution Dr. Kusum Sorab had built, near Honnavar.

Shanbhag approached Narayan Pandit to provide lessons to Arpit. Initially he declined, but after listening to the boy at length, agreed to occasional coaching, now that he stayed at Dharwad, and his trips were infrequent.

But teaching was a great challenge. The intricate and complicated grammar of music was too difficult for the child of 10 years to follow and remember. Pandit devised a simpler way of grammar and stressed more on rendering step by step. Pleased with Arpit’s eagerness and concentration, the Guru is very hopeful of training the lad in Gwalior Gharana (school) and Kumar Gandharva’s own style. Kumar Gandharva has rendered yomen service by reviving innumerable folk tunes sung during seasons (varsha geet etc), which Narayan Pandit is quite familiar with.

Arpit is still at school continuing with normal studies, which are heavy. But his supportive father sees that the kid is not burdened. Arpit plays badminton and other games, in addition to music lessons. He says his first love is music.

Arpit is a recipient of National Scholarship. The Center for Cultural Resources and Training of Government of India spots child prodigies & helps pursue training in fine arts. Initially it is for two years, but could be extended up to 20 years, based on good progress report from the Guru.

It is hoped that this genius coastal kid will bloom into a great artist after training under a rare Guru.

See Also:
• Topics on Indian Music
• Kamat Memorial Center

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Jyotsna Kamat

Jyotsna Kamat Ph.D. lives in Bangalore.


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