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Mahesh Kale: The young face of Indian classical music

mahesh kale

Classical music has been part of Indian culture for several centuries. Young vocalist, Mahesh Kale, who is a brilliant exponent is channelising the traditional art through right avenues to reach a wider audience which includes the untapped potential segment of youths. Mahesh won the best playback singer award at the 63rd National Film Awards for a classical piece in the critically-acclaimed Marathi film, ‘Katyar Kaljat Ghusli’ (A Dagger Through The Heart), a movie which revived a neglected musical style of Natya Sangeet, a semiclassical musical theatre tradition dating back the 19th century.

As Mahesh takes on to the stage his mesmerising effect on the entire crowd is vibrantly visible thus making him one of the popular and versatile classical vocalist of the newer generation.

This charming and multi-faceted performer experiments with various forms of music. He is among those rare classical singers who understand the need to constantly adapt and use modern technology to nurture traditional arts. Mahesh has made classical music relevant for a whole new generation.

Mahesh whose songs are widely recognised and appreciated not just by ardent classical music lovers but also by youngsters who were not exposed to classical music. Mahesh has been trained in the rich tradition of Indian classical music which has also been tempered to the liking of a newer generation. He has been able to draw the younger generation in large number, closer to Indian Classical Music. Thus he has established himself as the face of Indian Classical Music of the new generation.“I experiment with my work and have been consciously working hard to make sure that the traditional art is contextually relevant without losing the core proposition,” he added.

Mahesh Kale
Mahesh Kale receiving National Award. Image: Mahesh Kale Facebook page

As Mahesh nurtures a strong desire to groom the youth, concedes, “Katyar Kalajat Ghusli” has connected me with the youth. The songs of this particular film have fundamentally held their hearts, it hit them, appealed to them. This is a revolution. At a recent workshop on classical music, students have travelled for more than four hours for attending it. I want to focus my energy on the youths and engage with them as they will carry forward the legacy. I want to help the youth experience Indian classical music.

“Guru Shishya Parampara” is still relevant,” says this versatile exponent who has been a disciple of the legendary Pandit Jitendra Abhisheki adding, “Information is available on the internet but one gets a real insight in a gurukul system. I could experience the soul of music as I was part of the gurukul system. Living alongside and having meals with a guru provides well-rounded training,” said Mahesh.

There are several gharanas dedicated to classical music like Gwalior Gharana, Jaipur Gharana, Lucknow Gharana, Agra gharana, Indore gharana, Kirana gharana, Patiala gharana, Benaras gharana, Rampur gharana etc. Each gharana of classical music has its own distinctive and artistic discipline following certain rules and methods/techniques in musical presentation.

“Gharanas are a great discipline”, Mahesh expressed adding that however, they are not relevant anymore. “Guru is a window to classical music, my guru legendary Pt Jitendra Abhishekiji had received training under different gharanas.” In addition to that Pt Abhisheki has also learnt from other great teachers like Girijabai Kelkar, Jagannathbuwa Purohit and Gulubhai Jasdanwala.

Pt Abhishekiji never believed in rigid compartments of sangeet gharanas. He was also influenced by the style of Jaipur gharana. There was an unusual conjunction of various gharanas of Indian classical music in Abhishekiji as it was evolved after deep thinking. Why should one limit oneself to a particular style but should synthesis beauty of different gharanas.”

Mahesh has performed with world famous percussionists including Zakir Hussain, Trilok Gurtu and Sivamani, and instrumentalists like Pedro Eustache and Frank Martin. He is determined to impart knowledge on Indian classical music, currently teaches music in the San Fransisco Bay Area. He has given lecture-demonstrations in various US universities including Stanford and Harvard University.

“Some artists work hard to get notice that should not help, an artist should work hard to give an outstanding performance every time,” Mahesh shared his success mantra when quipped about one of his successful performance on Facebook Live which saw over 2 lakh viewers.

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