- Written by : Dr Onkita Adhikary

As a clean, simple and honest voice strings together the sahitya “Hori khelana ko chale kanhaiyaa” in Raag Desh, one is left speechless at the way the limited scope of Raag Desh suddenly expands to accommodate variations that one could not even imagine. That ability to conjure music even in its limited boundaries was the power of the voice and the craft of Smt. Malini Rajurkar, unquestionably one of the very last vocalists of the golden era of Indian Classical music.

Born in the arid lands of Rajasthan where music thrives in the bosom of the parched landscape, Smt. Malini Rajurkar was one of the golden voices that echoed with the nuances of the Gwalior gharana, a gharana that was the cradle of Indian Classical music. Tutored by Shri Govindrao Rajurkar, this demure, petite, soft-spoken and simple professor of Mathematics would one day go on to become one of the strongest forces to reckon with alongside Gaan Saraswati Kishori Tai, Gaan Tapasvi Mogubai Kurdekar, MS Subbalakshmi to uphold the artistry of Indian Classical music. Her natural flair, her pitch perfect vocal timbre and her ability to coax the swaras together to paint a raga is something that time will surely keep within its fold of timelessness. From pure classical music to semiclassical genres of tappa to Marathi folk music, every note she has sung has borne her imprint and some have surpassed magic. Listening to her sing the evergreen bandish “Rang na daaro Shyamji”, a bandish immortalized by her idol, Shri Kumar Gandharvji, her rendition as a plea, a prayer, a submission of love each time she utters “Shyamji” in raag Sohini evokes the pangs of new-found love wrapped in the dilemma of both coming closer and drifting apart in its glorious beauty.

Her simplicity, her cerebral music and her dignity of letting her music speak is something that stands out as a lesson for all students of music who wish to go past the barriers of simply singing, a lesson to explore the horizons of Indian Classical music, a task that she managed to do without any expectations of accolades or awards with undaunted focus and unparalleled sadhana.

As the nation mourns the loss this last voice of the Golden era, Sangeet Sadhana pays its homage to this divine voice that fell silent on 6th September 2023. May you rest in melody always.


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