Thanks to Ambrose Bierce for sharing this cassette.
A Tribute to Pandit Firoz Dastur
Having passed away on May 9, Pandit Firoz Dastur, the doyen of the Kirana Gharana and a disciple of Sawai Gandharv, leaves behind a legacy that is hard to equal. Having commanded a singing career of six decades, Dastur's music touched many souls and moved several hearts.
As gratitude for his teaching and a celebration of his luminosity, Shrikant Deshpande, one of Dastur's disciples along with disciple Girish Sanzgiri and Srinivas Joshi, son of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, will be organising a tribute to Pandit Firoz Dastur on Saturday, May 17 at Pudumjee Hall, Maratha Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture, Tilak Road between 6pm and 8pm. Organised by Arya Sangeet Prasarak Mandal, which also organises the Sawai Gandharv Sangeet Mahotsav, the event being open to the public, will see 15-minute performances by each of the artistes followed by an eulogy to Dastur.
Recalling fond memories of his guru, Deshpande says, “Noble of character, the disciples of Panditji rather than sharing a guru-shishya relationship were great friends of his. And he was the only guru that I know of who wouldn't even hesitate from apologising to his own disciple on the occurrence of a mistake.”
Dastur was also one of the pioneers of the Sawai Gandharv and has participated in almost every festival since its inception, his gopala being a consistent favourite there. Anand Deshmukh, who has been compering Sawai Gandharv since 20 years, relates of his gentleness of mien and his lightheartedness. “The stalwart, inspite of being such a tall artist, was down-to-earth and sans any grandiosity.” He brings to memory an opportune instance when Deshmukh had the chance to interview Dastur at his house on Grant Road in Mumbai and several chats with him in green rooms at Sawai Gandharv. “He always said that his genteel performances are not his, but instead it is his guru who is playing through him,” Deshmukh relates of Dastur, “He was also always respectful of young artists and always listened to their music.” He also recalls of how when Dastur jokingly denied the audience the pleasure of his rendition of gopala, through shouts of gopala, the audience moved him into singing it for them once again.
Everyone remembers Dastur's dulcet, gentle voice, as does singer Neena Faterpekar. ”A softspoken human being, his music resonated the same characteristics,” she says, “I have been seeing him since I was a child as he knew both of my grandmothers and we had nice family moments together.” His study of voice culture, aalaps and the styles of Kirana Gharana were great. “He always encouraged my music and would always sit in the front row during my concerts. Though he gave me tips, he always enthused me to pursue and continue with my style of music,” she says emotionally.
Dastur, having been a father figure to him, Srinivas Joshi was always astounded to be in the presence of Dastur and how he, inspite of his greatness, possessed such rare humility and mingled with his juniors. Having grown up listening to Dastur, Joshi says that his loss will be paramount to music and to Kirana Gharana. “His devotion to his guru and to his parampara is something everyone should work to imbibe,” says Joshi.
Kirana Gharana has lost a great exponent and many artistes have lost a friend and a mentor. Though without his presence, Sawai Gandharv wouldn't be the same, his company and his devotion to music would be treasured and perhaps that is what Dastur will see as an apt homage.