By Shabnam Farook
Famed Indian classical vocalist Vinod Kumar Diwivedi was here in Sri Lanka recently as an examiner for the Bhatkhande Vidya Phit. Versatile, Diwvedi who has written about 200 classical songs and 200 other songs and bhajans, has been felicitated with many titles including the title of ‘Sangeet Gaurav Samman’ by Rang Bharthi. During his recent visit to the country, which was facilitated by well respected local musician Anil Mihirpenna, Diwvedi was bestowed with yet the accolade of ‘Kala Vibushana’ by the Sharadha Kala Niekathanaya.
Here are excerpts of the interview with Vinod Kumar Dwivedi
Q: Mr. Dwivedi, do tell us more about the music style you specialize in?
I specialize in the Drupath Dhamar style which is an ancient form of singing that originated in India 200 years ago. Drupath Dhamar requires you to have purity in raag, taal and pronunciation, and that’s why it is known as the mother of any kind of music. It’s known to be a rich form in classical music. In India there are only very few artistes following this style; seven people to be precise. Drupath Dhamar has two variations of Gharana (singing) the Malliks (Darbhanga gharana) and the Mishras (Bettiah gharana). I belong to Malik Gharana.
Q: How long does it take to master the Dhrupad Dhamar style?
It takes your whole life to master the Dhrupad Dhamar style. I believe that you must be fully devoted to music, and it should be learnt until your death. Once, when the great shehnai maestro Bismillah Khan was asked how he managed to practise with his age, he said that practice was like breathing, eating or drinking, it was a part of his life. It’s important that you learn, listen and understand music until your death.
Q: Why are there a limited number of artistes who have mastered this style?
It’s a very difficult style to master. It requires a lot of purity therefore you need to practise a lot, more than any other kind of music. Dhrupad Dhamar requires a lot of sacrifice. These days, most students want to learn music for a year or two and become a star, but in Dhrupad Dhamar for about six to seven years we only learn how to pronounce the swara (the seven notes of the scale)
Q: Why is important that we protect the Dhrupad Dhamar style for the future?
Classical music is the truth. New styles may come and go, but this will last forever. New styles that come are like a wave, they come with such a force, but wash away quietly, leaving no impact.
Q: Are you happy that you are able to pass on this legacy to the next generation?
Yes, I have received many awards for this style, people in India know me for this style and I’ve received so much affection and love for this style. I’ve sacrificed my life for the Dhrupad Dhamar style.
Q: What is your opinion about Sri Lankan students studying classical music?
I’m very happy to see these children. They are true geniuses, even though they don’t know the meaning of the words they sing, they sing them with such conviction, it's amazing. I’ve watched them perform, and I’ve noticed how obedient and humble they are. This is what attracts me to come here.
Q: What is your opinion about
Sri Lankan students studying classical music?
I’m very happy to see these children. They are true geniuses, even though they don’t know the meaning of the words they sing, they sing it with such conviction, its amazing. I’ve watched them perform, and I’ve noticed how obedient and humble they are. This is what attracts me to come here.