Mogubai Kurdikar, affectionately known as ‘Mai’ by the music fraternity was one of the most remarkable musicians the Indian Classical Music ever had.
Her journey as a student of music began at the tender age of 10 in the year 1913. Her mother would take her to the Zambaulim (झाम्बवली) temple where a wandering monk, a Haridas taught her.
Her mother, Jayashree had a deep desire to see her daughter emerge as a vocalist of repute. She was sad when Mogu’s Taalim under the Haridas halted as he was a wandering monk.
Soon after that, young Mogu became a part of Chandreshwar Bhootnath Mandali (चन्द्रेश्वर भूतनाथ मंडळी), a travelling theatre company. Within a few years, this company went bankrupt and Mogu was onboard with Sātārkar Stree Sangeet Mandali (सातारकर स्त्री संगीत मंडळी) and acted in some of the popular plays.
When Mogubai’s mother was about to die, she told Mogu that her soul will find salvation only when Mogu becomes an accomplished singer.
In a short span of a few years, Mogubai left the company due to constant clashes with a senior member of the company. The constant clashes and stress took a toll on her health and Mogubai’s aunt got her to Sangli for her medical treatment. Mogubai would often rehearse various songs (Padas) from the plays during her stay at Sangli.
Coincidently, Ustad Alladiya Khan, the doyen of Jaipur Gharana had also come to Sangli for his medical treatment and happened to hear Mogu rehearsing. Enchanted by her gifted voice and singing, he went into the house and asked Mogu to keep singing. He taught Mogubai for a brief sprint of a few months. The training stopped when his treatment was over. On the day when Ustad Ji was about to leave, a small felicitation of his was arranged by Sangli authorities and it was at that time Mogubai came to know that the gentleman teaching her for past few months was none other than legendary Ustad Alladiya Khan.
Mogubai Kurdikar’s journey as a disciple of Ustad Alladiya Khan was full of ups and downs due to a numerous reasons but Mogubai’s trust in her Guru and her willingness to learn from him was exceptional.
Her personality was full of simplicity and grace. Though she was a tough teacher, she was an equally loving and caring person. Mogubai Kurdikar looked at music as a spiritual endeavour, hardly bothering about fame and money.
Wikipedia carries a detailed biographical page on Mogubai. Click here to check it out.
Date of birth: 15 July 1904
Death: 10 February 2001
Gurus: Chintobuva Gurav, Hazrat Inayat Khan, Hyder Khan, Ustad Alladiya Khan.
Influencers: Ustad Vilayat Hussain Khan, Basheer Khan
Disciples: Kishori Amonkar, Kaushalya Manjeshwar, Dr. Arun Dravid, Suhasini Mulgaonkar, Kamal Tambe, Vamanrao Deshpande, Babanrao Haldankar, Padma Talwalkar.
Here is a long interview in which Siddharth Kak converses with Mogubai Kurdikar and her daughter Kishori Amonkar :
Here is another excerpt where Mogubai has been interviewed and sings a few Taranas in not so common Talas :
Some Archival Recordings :
A Teacher by Heart
Mogubai was widely acclaimed as one of the finest performers of all times. Yet, she herself found teaching music and sharing Vidya dear to her heart. Here is a short, ten minutes recording in which Mogubai is teaching Raga Sawani Nat to her disciple Kaushalya Manjeshwar.
Mogubai with daughter and disciple Kishori Amonkar.
Rendition of Jod-Ragas
Ustad Alladiya Khan created many Jod Ragas and these composite Ragas were a part of repertoire of his disciples. Here is a recording of Mogubai singing Raga Bihag Bahar in which two Ragas – Bihag and Bahar are blended beautifully.
Mogubai.. Happy within herself!
Source: Shri. Rajan Parrikar’s website.
Jaipur Gharana is often associated with Shuddha Aakar. Mogubai always sang with a clear Aakar which was full of Bhava. She had very well mastered the Jaipur Taan and according to a few musicians, she had also subtly added an element of ‘Gamak’ to her taan.
Many say that the source of this adaptation is her brief training with Ustad Hyder Khan and Ustad Vilayat Hussain Khan of Agra Gharana. Here is a unique Tarana in Raga Yaman sung by Mogubai.
Source : Aarshin Kanade’s website. Photo clicked by Raghu Rai.
- Though Mai avoided singing Thumris or other ‘light’ pieces in her concerts, she had received training in singing Ghazals from Dattaramji Nanodkar. She had also received Kathak training for a short span of time.
- As recalled by Dr. Arun Dravid, first and long-time disciple of Kishori Tai was once invited to Delhi to sing at a national level program as a representative of Jaipur Gharana.It was an exciting opportunity for any artist. Instead of communicating her intent to participate, Mai wrote a letter to the authorities asking them how they could forget Surashri Kesarbai Kerkar who, she asserted, was her senior and the most accomplished contemporary artist of the Jaipur gharana. Here is a long article in which Dr. Arun Dravid has captivatingly penned down his memories with Mai.
- A topic of constant debate and discussions was comparison of two of the leading disciples of Ustad Alladiya Khan – Kesarbai Kerkar and Mogubai Kurdikar. Here is a nice article written by veteran journalist Mohan Nadkarni where he unfolds the nuances of music and personalities of Mogubai and Kesarbai.
- Mogubai was very disciplined and punctual in her commitments; both personal and professional. She would always be ready before time; for concerts as well as sessions with her disciples. Even after carving out an identity for herself as an established singer, she preferred going deeper in her music practice and mastering the nuances of Jaipur-Atrauli Gharana.
We are listening!
Do you have an anecdote or a story or any archival recordings of Mogubai Kurdikar which you would like to share? We are all ears!
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