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A singer comes of age

Dhananjaya Hegde, known as a gifted child artiste, is launching his post-college music career with an album. The tape, he hopes, will convince music lovers of his abilities as a mature vocalist.



Dhananjaya Hegde: a talent to watch

DHANANJAYA HEGDE is 24, and has just completed his M.Com. He is looking for a regular job: he feels making a career out of music is difficult. Most well-known vocalists in Bangalore, he says, have had a government or bank job, and quit only when they were sure they had a name big enough to be able to survive without a monthly salary. All these years, Dhanajaya was known as a talented child singer. He hopes his new album Sushravya will tell music lovers about his abilities as a mature vocalist.

Dhananjaya is Pandit Vinayak Torvi's student. He has been learning from him since 1990. Before that, his mother Geeta Hegde was his guru. Dhananjaya comes from a family steeped in Yakshagana. He hails from the same family as Keremane Shivarama Hegde, one of the greatest names in that operatic art.

"As a boy he was fond of Yakshagana, and he would identify the sounds around him - like the sound of a temple bell or a car horn - by their swaras," says G.S. Hegde, Dhananjaya's father. So they decided they would groom him in Hindustani music.

Although Uttara Kannada is home to Yakshagana, the music of which is based in Carnatic music, the district is almost entirely tuned to Hindustani music. "There were virtually no Carnatic classical musicians in Honnavara, where we lived," says Hegde. And then they moved to Gokarna, where Geeta learnt music formally from Kamalakar Bhat. After coming to Bangalore she became a disciple of Torvi.

Dhananjaya gave his first concert when he was nine. In recent years, he has been a regular performer at the City's youth festivals. This is his second album. The first album was released by Sagar Music. Lahari has taken up his second, Sushravya. That, incidentally, is also the name of the Hegde house. The new album features ragas Bhoop, Abhogi, and Bahar. He is accompanied by Vyasamurti Katti on the harmonium and Gurumurthy Vaidya on the tabla.

In 1972, G.S. Hegde was all set to be a Yakshagana artiste when he got a job in Karnataka Bank. That job took him to various places, including in Haveri and Dharwad. When he was transferred to Bangalore in 1989, he was wondering how he could find a guru. Dr Gangubai Hangal suggested that he take Dhananjaya to Torvi, and that's how the boy met his guru. For seven years, after he started learning under Torvi, Dhananjaya stopped performing. After those grooming years, he got his guru's stamp of approval, and started giving concerts. He recently returned from a tour of the United States, on which he accompanied his guru and also gave some solo performances. He has also toured Nepal and Bangladesh with Torvi, and given solo performances in Thailand.

"My idols are Pandit Bhimsen Joshi and Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar," says Dhananjaya. He has met the two vocalists on a couple of occasions, and is awed by their simplicity.

Dhananjaya is definitely a singer to watch.

(Writer Go.Ru. Channabasappa releases Sushravya on Feburary 2, at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, at 10 a.m.. Tulsiram Velu will be the chief guest, and Vinayak Torvi will preside. The release will be followed by a vocal concert by Pandit Ganapathi Bhat Hasanagi, accompanied by Vyasamurti Katti on the harmonium and Rajendra Nakhod on the tabla.)

S.R. RAMAKRISHNA

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