Saturday, October 2, 2010

Kamlesh Bhadkamkar on music

It was on the day of his graduation that Kamlesh conducted ‘Amrutacha Vasa’, his first live program. Since then, he has organized many big popular live shows. But his real passion is niche, thought-based programs. He is the music arranger of many films and television shows, including the popular SaReGaMaPa on Zee Marathi. We talked to him about his life and times in Marathi music industry on the occasion of his recently conducted program of duets ‘Tuzhya gala mazhya gala’ at Dadar Matunga Cultural Centre.

On how he selected the theme for the program

Kamlesh routinely conducts big music events attended by celebrities and large  audiences. The songs selection for this program is dominated by performance-oriented and orchestration-oriented items. He wanted to do something different, program concepts that will provide a thinking challenge to him and his team.

He was toying with his laptop, going through new duet compositions from the album Swaragandha, when the concept of a new program suddenly came to him. He realized that the idea of duets is much bigger than romantic songs. Devotional, lavani, phatke – a whole world of duets lies beyond the few popular types of duets, people usually hear. Kamlesh started delving deeper and deeper into this treasure land. He included some gems like ‘Chal Chal Re’ from Prabhat’s Sant Dnyaneshwar. He extended the theme to include two musicians, like the rare combination of Vasant Pawar as music director and Sudhir Phadke as singer in Awaghachi Sansar. New compositions were put alongside the classics. Slowly, the theme of the program took shape. Hosting it in a place like Dadar Matunga Cultural Centre was a challenge as Dadar Matunga Cultural Center is so particular about the quality of programs and the audience is highly discerning.

But the program won the hearts of the audience. It mixed the magic of old masters with the promise of new talent. “This kind of program is the only platform where you can present more intricate and subtle music. Though I host large events, I find myself coming back to Baithak programs time and again” Kamlesh says. He insists on at least 10 rehearsals before such a program. “When the concept and content of a program is strong, the participation and positive energy that the group experiences is tremendous”, feels Kamlesh.

On how he started his journey in music

Kamlesh ventured in the wonderland of live music right in his college days. He thanks his professor – Prof. Patankar in D. G. Ruparel college for initiating him and many like him. “Four programs a year and 30 songs per program. We graduated with a heritage of 600 songs!” remembers Kamlesh. His future was sealed when the students hosted ‘Gaani Suyashreenchi’ a program on compositions of Sudhir Phadke [Su], Yashwant Dev [Ya] and Shreenivas Khale [Shree]. Shreenivas Khale was present in this event and he appreciated Kamlesh’s talent. He went on to become a music arranger for Khalekaka’s work. Working with a legend gave him recognition – a place, in the industry. Most important has been his family’s contribution. His parents gave him unbending support in his music career, something so unusual in his middle class family. In the early nineties, he wanted a professional keyboard, but a good keyboard was not so easily available then and it was an expensive affair. His mother mortgaged her jewelery and Kamlesh got his first keyboard. His father was his moral support in the toughest of the days.

On casting artists for the Dadar Matunga Cultural Center program

Presenting duets is a mix of interaction, enacting and harmony. The casting of the program was done keeping in mind that every singer owns a certain voice quality – husky, sharp, easy and so on. The audience should be presented with a range of voice qualities in a live show to avoid the program getting monotonous. This also prompted Kamlesh to cast child artists from Varsha Bhaves’s Kalaangan. They added a variety to the program that kept the audience always interested.

On the recent wave of reality shows and what the young talent should keep in mind

Reality shows mean an exceptional platform for the young. It is also becoming a good vehicle for new compositions to reach the people. Most of the times the reality shows are theme-based and compositions that fit in the theme are chosen. A theme program for Radha-Krishna naturally has a place for ‘Radha hi Bawari’. This does a lot of good to the popularity of new compositions.

Young participants will learn a lot about their strengths and weaknesses and they should utilize it in their further learning in music. However, they should learn to handle the sudden rise in popularity. They should not get carried away by hype, promotion, glamor and hefty compensation they get. “In music, the journey is more important than the destination”, Kamlesh would like to tell his young colleagues.

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