By Kedar Mishra
Bhubaneswar: This is a festival of rare experiences. In the festival packed calendar of capital city Bhubaneswar, ‘Taala Vadya Utsav’ is an example of its own. It’s a festival dedicated to rhythms and it has been conceived by one of the finest rhythm master of our time Guru Banamali Maharana. He is the true fountainhead of Odissi Mardala and for last five decades he has created a genre of exquisite Taala repertory and groomed generations of highly talented Mardala Players. Taking up Mardala from an accompanying instrument to an independent solo percussion, his kinetic leadership unfolded a new chapter in the history of Odissi. To enrich his legacy he found Mardala Academy, which is one of the finest talent hubs. Mardala Academy has been religiously organizing ‘Tala Vadya Utsav’ for a decade and 11th edition of the festival commenced in Rabindra Mandap on May 11, 2012. Delicacies of various rhythm patterns and style were presented with great enthusiasm.
There was no crowd of items; only three well chosen rhythm works on the platter. The festival began with a group show of rhythms by a very young group from Guruji’s Gurukul. Banamali Maharana led the group by setting the Bols and the younger disciples took his command to a finer height. Sai Ranjan, Tarini, Saumya, Prashanta, Rakesh, Puspika and Lipika sailed from slow to speed by displaying variations and varieties of Odissi Taal. The rich repertory of Odiisi Taal was concisely presented within a stipulated time. Guruji’s two grand daughters Pushpika and Lipika registered their commanding presence and it was a great assurance to see the legacy going on and on.
It was typical sound of Khanjani and Khol(a kind of Mridanga) that stealed the show and casted a magical spell. Percussionists Dhirendra Kumar Lenka and Ashok Kumar Parida created pure magic by assimilating a whole range of Desi rhythms. It was not so fast, nor even slow. It was well balanced and magically organized. Dhirendra Lenka on Khol brought back aroma of many missing Odissi Taal. Taking bits from Paala, Daskathia, Kirtan and many more, they went high and low, creating a soulful dancing atmosphere. Truly they inspired the soul to dance. Their hilarious performance will be a souvenir for ages to come. Unfortunately both of them are highly marginalized and we never count them in the group of elite. They need due attention from both government and non government cultural agencies.
The festival concluded with a soulful Tabla recital by Shubh Maharaj, a delhi based young percussionist and disciple of great maestro Kishan Maharaj. His rendition on Ti Taal was smooth and blissful. Guru Banamali Maharana’s effort to project young talents needs a special mention. This year’s Tala Vadya Samman was given to Odissi exponent Dr. Priyambada Mohanty Hezmadi.