Mesmerised by Hindustani music, a youth from Kerala who learned the basics of Carnatic music from his father, set out on a journey to Pune in 1980s in search of his guru.

While learning Hindustani music at Akhil Bharatiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya in Pune, he took one of the bold steps in his life. An inner calling led him to the doorsteps of Pandit Jasraj, the doyen of Mewati gharana. The youth was given a chance to sing before Pandit Jasraj. He told Pandit Jasraj about his earnest wish to get training under him in Hindustani music. However, Pandit Jasraj rejected the request.

His world crumbled at the very feet of the guru he was looking at to learn Hindustani music. The teary-eyed youth started to return when Pandit Jasraj called him back all of a sudden.

“To my surprise, poojaniya guruji said he will take me as his disciple,” says Pandit Ramesh Narayan, narrating his musical journey. A trace of overwhelming joy he felt as a youth, upon hearing the words of guru then, is still visible in his eyes as he tells the story. 

“The rigorous training lasted for more than seven years in various aspects of music, in traditional Gurukul style,” he says.

Narayan never looked back after that and went on to establish a school to teach Hindustani music in Thiruvananthapuram at his home state of Kerala, which was inaugurated by his guru Pandit Jasraj.  Over the years, Ramesh Narayan taught music to hundreds of students and one of his students and his younger daughter Madhushree won the Kerala State Film Award for the best playback singer.

Madhusree Narayan, a Class XI student, says that she was attracted to music at a tender age as her family is full of musicians.

“My father is my guru. My sister and mother are trained musicians and I started accompanying my father in concerts from a young age,” says Madhusree, who learnt Carnatic music from Parvathipuram Padmanabha Iyer.

What music does Madhushree love singing?

“I love all kinds of music. I am comfortable singing both Hindustani and Carnatic,” says Madhusree.  She quickly adds, “I also love Western music.”

So what does she feel about fusion music?

“I am also interested in fusion music. I think it has got a very good scope and I want to try my luck in fusion music too. May be as an album in future,” says the youngster, who won many hearts with her rendering “Pashyati dishi dishi”, from the film Edavappathi and ‘Priyamullavane’ for the film “Ennu Ninte Moideen”.

“I used to sing tracks for film songs from the age of 12. I believe music is divine. When I sing Hindustani music alone, sometimes I can actually feel the music filling within me,” says the youngster. 

With the topic touching the divine form of music, her father and guru Ramesh Narayan pitch in, “Hindustani music or the classical music is shudh sangeet. It traverses from soul to soul. Athma to Paramathma. Spirituality cannot be separated from music as it is inherent in it. The Indian art is something which is so rich. If you look, India aped West in diverse fields, but only art remains as something that the West is adopting from us. Because it is rich with our culture, our spirituality…,” he says.

Ramesh Narayan believes there is immense potential among youngsters, who want to become Hindustani musicians. “My advice for them is to nurture dedication and devotion towards music. Nowadays, within no time one learns music they set up studios in their home, wasting hard-earned money of their parents. Instead of software-assisted music and editing, they should dedicate themselves in shudh sangeet and explore its possibilities,” says Narayan, who along with Pandit Jasraj, will be touring the US, presenting Hindustani concerts from July 9.

Does Madhushree agree?

“Yes, one should be completely dedicated to music. You know what does ‘gharana’ mean? Without waiting for the reply she answers it herself. “It is Ghar Aana- home coming. The home of Hindustani music,” says the youngster sitting beside her father at her home in Thiruvananthapuram, where music instruments and pictures of musical legends adorn the wall. It is also the music school her father set up three decades back where Hindustani music from Mewati gharana flows.