19 September, 2020

The Eternal Song Of Gangubai

In a gallery of voices vying for greatness, she's a loner: dignified, withdrawn and true to the purity of her art

The Eternal Song Of Gangubai

THE riyaz may have stopped, but not the song. Gangubai Hangal, khayal's leading exponent and doyenne of the Kirana gharana, doesn't live her age—she turned 87 recently. God bless her. If she dithered, but for a moment, when we asked her if she'd accompany us to Lake Hunkal—her hometown Hubli's prettiest spot—it's because she's terribly camera-shy. "Ye sab hamne kabhi nahin kiya, kabhi pose nahin kiya (I've never done this, never struck a pose)," she confesses in broken Hindi. And yet, on the shores of Hunkal, as she settles under a tree to play the tanpura and sing the first few notes of the alaap, she's lost to the world. Her voice does the talking—rich, deep, mellifluous. Till the security guard, overwhelmed by the moment, can't stop himself. "Akka," he gushes, "I have all your tapes, I've heard all your music. But I never dreamt I'd see you in person. Thank you, thank you."

"This is why I've settled down in Hubli, not in Bombay," says Gangubai, sitting in her home, aptly called Gangu...



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