"Spare artists the worry of bread to promote arts": Padmini Rao
By Shalini Benipuri
New Delhi, Feb 2 (UNI) Having been trained under one of the most revered names in classical music, Padmini K Rao has been one of the destiny's chosen few. Coupled with a banker husband and supportive family who did not grudge her 'riyaz' time, she never had to worry about earning her bread or make small compromises to make ends meet. Yet, with the extra sensitivity of an artist, she knows what it means to an artist to constantly worry
about the family and finances. ''I wish there was more patronage for artists, so
that they did not have to worry about keeping the home fire burning,'' Padmini told UNI here.
''It harms music in the long run,'' she added ruefully. In the past when there was royal patronage for performers, they could attain rare heights of excellence, oblivious to the mundane cares of everyday living. But today one needs a forum to project and promote one's art. Mere hard work or talent does not suffice, the upcoming classical singer lamented. With a background in Chemistry, she trained under Mrs Pramila Dagar, Ustad Zia Mohiuddin Dagar, the Dhrupad and rudra veena maestro, besides Dr Prabha
Atre who helped her graduate from sitar to dhrupad to move on to khayal.
''Dagar saab gently directed me towards khayal after training me in voice modulation for more than a decade,'' said the artist who has devoted 24 years of her life to music. On the synthesis of two of India's most enchanting musical streams, dhrupad and khayal, Padmini said, ''Although I do not sing dhrupad now, its reference was bound to be present in my singing as khayal originated from dhrupad and it is natural for kids to resemble parents.'' The techno-savvy singer, who has command over six Indian languages besides Dutch and French, believes the latest innovations to be a boon for the present
generation. ''Thanks to the electronic tabla and tanpura, I could practice whenever I felt like even while doing other household chores like cooking or ironing clothes, in places like the West Asia, Europe and North America, where it was difficult to get an accompaniment,'' the mother of two said.
Padmini, with her forte being pure classical music, advocates the distinctive style of gharanas in promoting music and still believes strongly in
maintaining one's identity.>
''Gane mein guru ki shakal honi chahiye, nakal
nahin (Dagar saab used to say your guru's face must
come forward in your singing, not his imitation).
''And it is the most fascinating part of our
heritage that different gharanas make use of the same
musical notes and the rules of grammar to create their
own unique style of singing,'' she said.
She looks forward to a time when she could get an
opportunity to perform with the other legends from
Kinara gharana like Pandit Bhimsen Joshi and Gangubai
Hangal. ''If I could just catch few rays of the sun, I
would be blessed,'' the unassuming singer added.
With a master's degree in music from SNDT
University in Mumbai, she has performed in West Asia,
Europe and the United States and spends at least five
to six hours daily in practice.
On being asked how does she reconcile her familial
responsibilities with her passion for music, she said,
''I am built like an ox. I do not tire easily.
''Also, fearful of the situation where my children
begin to see my music as a competitor which takes away
my time with them, I made doubly sure that I was
around when the kids needed me. Gradually as
they began to realise its importance in my life, they
started respecting it as well,'' Padmini said.
Today, besides holding concerts all over the world
''to promote Indian music so that it does not wither
away'', she also conducts seminars and workshops on
music education. Rishi Valley School in
Andhra Pradesh is one such forum where she has been
coming for the past four years to initiate eager
children into the vast treasure of Indian cultural