Clad in a black cardigan and red silk sari, Vidushi Shubha Mudgal made magic on Friday, Day 6 of the Saptak Music Festival, singing light classical khayals, thumris and dadras, accompanied by Aneesh Pradhan on the tabla and Sudhir Nayak on the harmonium. Often referred to as the rock star of classical music, the 63-year-old vocalist is especially popular among the young crowd, who showed up in numbers for her performance at the LD Arts College, Ahmedabad.
The charismatic lady is famous for having broken numerous barriers, lending her powerful voice to folk, pop and film songs, scoring hits like Ali More Angna and Ab Ke Sawan. Along the way, she has emerged a symbol of women’s empowerment and more recently, for the LGBT cause (she was a prominent presence at the LGBTQ Rainbow Lit Festival in Delhi in 2019).
The second performance of the evening was by Ustad Shiraz Ali Khan on the sarod, accompanied by Indranil Mallick on the tabla, playing Raag Kaunsi Kanada. Outfitted in classy white, rare for a stage performer, Ustad Shiraz said that for him, the Saptak stage has always been like a temple: “My grandfather Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, my uncles, Ustad Ashish Khan and Ustad Alam Khan have all played here in the past and I am honoured to play here today.”
The first performance of the evening was by vocalist Hemant Gandharva, who sang Raag Puriya Kalyan, accompanied by Ikram Khan Kalawant on the Sarangi, Vasisht Shastri on the tabla and Sudhir Yardi on the harmonium. For Shri Yardi, who teaches at the Sarvajanik College of Engineering, Surat, the concert was special. He battled Covid for nearly two years and has only recently recovered enough to play on stage again.