Artiste: Udey Vir Gandhi and Nikhita Gandhi
Label: Asha Audio
Nazrulgeeti, as a genre, has always had stiff competition from Rabindra Sangeet. While there have been Rabindra Sangeet singers one to the dozen, Nazrulgeeti enthusiasts have not been much forthcoming. Music aficionados often complain that Kazi Nazrul Islam’s compositions have a rigid Hindustani classical influence that has been detrimental to their popularity.
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It was thus nonetheless heartening to see a new Nazrulgeeti album hit the stores some time back after quite a break. Besides, this was not some established singers trying their hand in the much neglected genre, but two fresh voices rendering rare Nazrul gems.
Katha, by the father-daughter duo of Udey Vir Gandhi and Nikhita Gandhi, is a highly experimental Nazrul album that comprises nine tracks. Majority of the tracks are lesser known and the album has surely succeeded in raising an eyebrow. The surprise element of the album is evoked mostly by Nikhita with an unconventional husky voice. She is ably supported by experimentation in the music arrangement that’s a welcome departure from the stereotype accompaniment that dogs Nazrul’s songs.
The album, however, is not without its pitfalls that usually happen with overzealous experimentation. While the arrangement works in some tracks like Parodesi Megh, in many others, it simply confuses the listener. For instance, absence of various classical instruments like tabla and the lack of vocal strength, characterises several numbers like Srijano Chhonde. Udey is blessed with a velvet voice that compensates the lack of versatility and gravity in Nikhita’s rendition in many of the duets. She still deserves appreciation for the finely executed harkats in tracks like Madhabilata and Aaj Shefali.
The album requires finesse. Nikhita has to grasp the nuances of the jhanptaal because it seems that she is eating up the last few words in every stanza.