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Posted at: Mar 21, 2017, 1:20 AM; last updated: Mar 21, 2017, 1:20 AM (IST)

Melody in each note(s)

Celebrated classical musician Salil Bhatt, in Chandigarh for a performance, shares how receiving and restoring the Mohan Veena gave him immense pleasure

Mona

The year 2017 started on a rather high note for celebrated classical musician Salil Bhatt. He began with receiving and restoring Mohan Veena, his guru and father Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt’s creation. “A warrior from the bygone era,” is how Salil refers to this veena, but he was pretty miffed that it lay unkempt, uncared for in a private collection. It took three years of co-ordination, for father and son, to give it a new lease of life.

The Satvik veena player, who came calling to Chandigarh on the invite of Pracheen Kala Kendra, shares excerpts from his journey so far. 

Can you tell us about your association with the Pracheen 

Kala Kendra?

I share a long and strong bond with Pracheen Kala Kendra. The Kendra introduced first my father, I and then my son Satvik to Chandigarh audiences and I respect them for that. Not only is the Kendra one of the premier institutes in the country, it’s also my second home. It is sheer hard work of Guru Ma Shobha Koser and late Guru Madan Lal Koser that each year as many as three lakh students take the classical music exams.

Now that Mohan Veena is under your due care, how does it make you feel? Did getting it back create any unpleasantness between 

you and Panditji?

I share a very formal relationship with my father; he is more my Guru and even when addressing him I use Guru Ji, Pandit Ji or Baap Ji Huqm words, according to our Rajasthani culture! I felt for a while that Guru Ji (that he corrected me later that I was wrong) wasn’t giving due importance to my request. The entire coordination took us three years. Mohan Veena is not just a unique instrument that my Guru Ji made from a German guitar, but carries a legacy, as it kept him company for long 35 years. Half a century old, it was in a jarred shape when I received it, but restoring it to working condition was a creative and fulfilling process. Now that I have this piece of virasat with me, I am happy.

What’s year 2017 planned like?

By God’s grace and Guru Ji’s blessings, I have been touring for concerts. That’s what I dreamt of! Since January I have been travelling almost each day, except for a week when I was unwell. From Chandigarh, I am back to Delhi, then Patna for Bihar State Day, followed by Jaipur, then concerts in Shimla and Assam. I am totally criss-crossing the country and loving the process.

Do you still drive your modified Scorpio to your concerts?

Driving remains one of my passions, but now I have an assistant to back me when I get too tired. I loved the way I have modified my SUV for there aren’t many modes of transport that I am comfortable with at my six feet four inches frame.

How has the classical music scene changed in our country from when you started?

This is the golden era of classical music. Gone is the clichéd ‘for the classes and not masses’. You should see how people are pouring-in for our concerts and that sure is heartening for the artistes.

Any dreams left unfulfilled?

Like any artiste, I too dream of reaching heights. I also dream of a house where I can have everything — a mini-auditorium, a theatre and more. It would be lovely to own a sprawling place in Delhi.

What is your message to young musicians?

Compared to 50 or 100 years back, today you have everything in your palm — just a click way. Think of the time as students waited for years to be instructed by their Gurus! Value what you have. Also, everyone must visit and listen to our rich classical music with the same passion as we follow western music.

mona@tribunemail.com

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