Sound of music
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It was in the late 1990s that city resident Pradeep Mali had received a message from Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, asking him to come and meet him at Kalashree, the bungalow where the late musician lived once. "He met me warmly and asked me if I would like to work for Sawai Gandharva Mahotsav as the sound in-charge. Till then, I had handled sound only for small-scale music programmes. This was a huge responsibility as well as an opportunity. I instantly said yes to Panditji (Joshi)," recalls 58-year-old Mali, owner of Swaranjali, the name associated with the larger-than-life classical music festival, which is now known as Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav. The musical extravaganza will be will be held at Ramanbaug School from December 12 to 15. Organised every year by the Arya Sangeet Prasarak Mandal, the iconic festival is in its 61st year.
Reminiscing his very first assignment with the festival, Mali says: "Of course, I was nervous and tensed whether everything will go as per the expectations of Panditji. Unlike these days, that time the festival used to begin at 4 pm and would go on till 6-7 am the next day. I had to make sure the sound system is flawless and is uninterrupted till the programme ends."
Mali adds that he had a back-up system in place just in case something went wrong.
"Thankfully, the need didn't arise. Not just Panditji but also a lot of other people, like Pandit Rajan-Sajan Mishra, Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt and Robyn Carrigan of Canada, among others, admired my work," he says.
Talking about the revolution he has seen in technology in the last more than a decade, Mali says earlier the sound system used to be spread at the venue with multiple sources. It came with a drawback and created delay sound. "We kept updating ourselves over the years. For the last few years, we have been using Adamson, a Canada brand that gives amazing sound clarity. As it works through a single source, there is no delay sound," adds Mali.