The formidable legacy of Kishori Amonkar

A tribute by Mohammad Shehzad

The grand Kishori Amonkar left this world on April 3, 2017 just a week before her 85th birthday. She had a truly long, successful and productive life — both as a musical genius and as someone who built a formidable legacy.

Half of Kishori’s magic was hidden in her surmandal. She would tune it with marvelous precision as if a digital tuner was used. But there were no tuning gadgets. Everything was in her mind. The surmandal is floating in an ocean. The pressure of waves and water is plucking its strings — that’s the feeling she would create by plucking her surmandal.

Kishori, like other stalwarts, had the rare ability to put soul in any raga that she would attempt. In the presence of creators like Amir Khan and Bade Ghulam Ali, she had proven that raga Sampoorna Malkauns belonged to her — just like hunsdhun belonged to Amir Khan and thumris belonged to Bade Ghulam Ali. Nobody could initiate, expand and conclude Sampoorna Malkauns the way Kishori did. It is literally impossible to present it without repeating Kishori’s phrases.

Many legendary artistes leave this world in adverse circumstances especially when their artistic contributions are already interred. But this was not the case with Kishori. When she was at her peak, she had given the world of music another ‘Kishori’ ie Arati Ankalikar. If a legend is able to groom another legend, that’s an unbelievable measure of success. Besides Arati, Kishori also groomed many artistes who turned out to be great practitioners of music. So, Kishori is not dead. She is alive and her music continues to flourish just like the two icons — Ustad Amir Khan and Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan.

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Mohammad Shehzad is a journalist/researcher based in Islamabad. He is also a student of tabla and classical vocal music.

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