Kalaa Arpan:  Babeena Sharma’s Pleasant Recital

By Jayashri Phanse

e-mail: jsphanse560@hotmail.com

On Saturday, September 10, under the auspices of the S.V.Temple, Babeena Sharma offered Kalaa Arpan, a semi classical Hindustani vocal recital. It was indeed a refreshing change for the Temple’s audience used to only South Indian classical art forms in recent times.


Babeena, after the customary Ganesh Vandana, chose Kasturi tilakam lalata patale… in Madhuvanti, a verse from Naaraayaneeyam, a 16th century work by Narayana Bhattathri of Kerala, to begin the concert. The verse describing Krishna’s ever-beautiful form, took the audience along to visualize the adoration of Gopis for Krishna with all his adornments. This was followed by Ullanghe Sindho in the raag Bhatiyar dedicated to Hanuman, who, in Ramayana, crossed the hundred yojanas of the ocean to find Sita in Lanka.

A disciple of Pandita Tripti Mukherji, Babeena shared an amusing anecdote tracing the origin of the verse in Mukherji’s interactions with Pandit Jasrajji, the Bade Guruji for all the disciples of Guru Mukherji.  Babeena mellifluously traversed through the raga to give the audience a meditative experience of a bairagi.

After doing adequate justice to the Great Miya Tansen’s composition Teri Gati in raag Malkauns, Babeena presented another challenging masterpiece, Mata Kalika in raag Adana, describing Kali as the Supreme Mother. In the next piece, Dwadasha Jyotirlinga in raag Mangal Bhairava, Babeena musically described Shiva, the other half of the Ardhanareeshwara form.

With Venky Sharma, Babeena’s husband as the Master of Ceremony and their children Ashutosh and Kamakshi on vocal support, this piece and the following became a nice family presentation.

The next two were devotionals on Krishna. The first, Laal Gopal – a Haveli Sangeet –from Western India, depicted the colorful Holi festival.  The second was a popular Purandara Dasa Devaranama – Jagadodhdharana in the Raag Kapi. In her lilting voice Babeena successfully painted the picture of mother Yashoda blissfully playing, sometimes remonstrating little Krishna, all this in total oblivion of the fact that she has the Supreme Lord in her arms. Babeena choosing the popular number and rendering it in the Karnatic style was well appreciated by her audience.

Asatoma sat gamaya, which was next, was Babeena’s dedication to her mother and first Guru, Behroze Chatterji, whom she considers an eternal source of inspiration. In the concluding piece, Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya in raag Bhimpalasi, the artist invited the audience to join in the devotional chant maintaining. All through the evening, Babeena was confident, and came across as dedicated while she created a spiritual meditative mood.

Aqeel Bhatti on the Tabla provided percussion support while Arif Mani accompanied the artiste on the harmonium.   ♣

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