After a long flying schedule, at a layover in Cairo, while most of her colleagues are busy catching up on their sleep, air hostess Gangaur Sharma, 22, is up in less than five hours. Refreshed, she ties on her ankle bells on the track suit worn as night clothes, the iPod is switched on and she begins dancing to a mangalacharan invoking Lord Ganesh.
“Dance is a great way to keep fit. It also keeps me in touch with my art and spirituality at once, irrespective of which part of the world I’m in,” says the kathak exponent from Mumbai who is also training to be a pilot.
Budding classical vocalist Aditya Khandwe, who’s training under the nonagenarian Jaipur-Atrauli gharana doyenne Dhondutai Kulkarni, should know what Sharma is talking about. The Borivli resident, who works in a bank, too believes, “Music is the only way to find inner peace given the fast-paced lives we are caught in.”
Khandwe and Sharma are not isolated instances. At a time concerned voices about future of Indian classical dance and music are growing, youth like them are taking on the mantle from their gurus. “In the process of carrying that legacy forward, perhaps because of our age or kind of exposure, one often tries to push the envelope in terms of adding contemporary nuances to the compositions while performing,” says Sharma who has used multimedia installations in her work.
Leading vocalist Shubha Mudgal who was performing with her band, Koshish, on Friday, however, cautioned against using subterfuge to pull youth into classical music. “It’s not my agenda to convert tastes. If a youngster’s heard Seekho na, nainon ki bhasha and attends my pure classical concert, it can go either way. S/he can like it or hate it. As an artiste I can only be sincere to the genre. Then, one has to live with what comes as a reaction.”
Both Mudgal and tabla maestro Zakir Hussain feel the availability of a multitude of new platforms due technology will pave the way for more youth to be drawn to music. “The digital media has helped broaden the fan base of classical music,” says Hussain. Mudgal laments that the new technology-based platforms are not equally accessible to all genres. “Unless that happens, the Indian genres like classical and folk will always lag behind. We still have long way to go.”
Perhaps, Sharma’s fine footwork is a step in that direction.