Main Feature - Carnatic Music During The Decade
A paradox about the veena was that, while a substantial number of youngsters were learning to play the instrument, concert opportunities were relatively few even for established performers, compared to those available to vocalists. The veena has traditionally been the most venerated of the instruments and it has influenced the style of singing of a large number of vocalists but, inasmuch as it is especially an instrument best suited to chamber music, financially-strapped sabha-s presumably found it an unattractive proposition to include veena recitals in their schedule on anything but a token basis. Large audiences could not be anticipated.
The late Pandit Samta Prasad was a devout worshipper of Kali. And being faithful in spirit to that aweinspiring goddess, he manifested her every excess. On stage, he invariably dressed in black: a black silk kurta, embroidered with white or gold around the neck; a black fur cap perched on his head. He was a dark man, and a curious vanity made him spend hours powdering his face and applying kajal to his large, luminous eyes. In speech and deed he was a proud and capricious man. But then, he had a lot to be proud about. Besides, artists and gods can never be judged by the moral yardsticks of lesser mortals. Samta Prasad brought with him his own Kaal (Time) and Kshetra (Space). And with him gone, there is a void in our musical universe. All emotion and instinct, he was not the best of intellects. As far as the mathematics and grammar of taal-vidya went, Kishan Maharaj and Alia Rakha were way beyond his ken. But such was the magic of his musicality and sound control that no one ever bothered with the content of what he played.