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Thumri festival brings together nine singers

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Music maestros like Pt Channulal Mishra, Pt Pohankar and Shruti Sadolikar will be joined by younger musicians in celebrating a festival devoted to the romantic and mystical semi-classical genre, Thumri.

The fourth edition of the three-day festival beginning here August 13 is being presented by Sahitya Kala Parishad and Government's Department of Art, Culture and Languages.

Pt Ajay Pohankar, 65, who hails from the Kirana gharana and scheduled to perform on the second day of the festival hopes to regale listeners with a surprise.

"I want it to be a surprise. I basically belong to Jabalpur but also sing the Purab and gharana styles. Having been a student of Hindi literature, I can compose my own thumris, even my mother Dr Sushila Pohankar used to compose them," Pohankar told PTI.

Once considered a child prodigy, who at the age of 11 years was invited by Pt Bhimsen Joshi for "a mesmerising concert" the musician says he does not believe in just imitation.

"I don't trust in copies but that does not mean I don't sing traditional thumris," says the veteran singer recalling the contribution of yesteryear greats like Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Ustad Amir Khan and Barkat Ali Khan who influenced him greatly.

While Girija Devi, considered the queen of Thumri and a regular at the festival will be giving the event a miss owing to ill health, other woman musicians like Shruti Sadolikar Katkar and younger musician Ashwini Bhide have been included in the line up.

Shruti, who hails from the Jaipur-Atrauli gharana, says the younger generations of musicians want to dive straight into semi-classical genres like thumri and khayal without a proper introduction of classical music.

"During concerts of veteran musicians like Begum Akthar and Girija Devi, they do not advertise their expertise in classical music. It is so subtle just like an undercurrent, it is smooth like butter pleasing to the ear and has so much flavour," says the musician.

Shruti, 62, who has access to rare bandish's of Jaipur Gharana, says she has composed thumris influenced from the haveli style of music, a genre which she has researched in depth. The musician has been lined up to perform on the opening day of the festival, which focuses on the "Purab Ang Gayak" style.

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