It was the exemplary gayaki of the Kirana maestra Gangubai Hangal that first drew me towards Raga Maluha Kedar. Her rendition was deep and seductive–in a brooding sort of way–as she returned the upaj again and again to the mandra saptak. She chose for her Vilambit, the Sadarang composition ‘Mandar baajo Re’, and placed the sum on the mandra Ni or squarely on the mandra Ma sometimes! Now, she did all this very nonchalantly in her unique gender-fluid voice. You could tell she enjoyed this raga tremendously, as she weaved little strands of Shyam Kalyan and Kamod so deftly into the Kedar fabric. Later, I came to hear many Agra stalwarts handle this raga with aplomb. (‘Achara Mora…’ rendered by Lalit Rao is a personal favorite).
This raga grew on me slowly but surely, and is now one of my favorite Kedar prakars. This is my sketch of the raga – a little less gravitas, a little more sparkly. Maybe we will mellow together with age – Maluha Kedar and I.
मंदर बाजो रे, सब मिल गाओ सखियाँ सहेलरियाँ
ममदसा पिया मनभावनुवा ‘सदारंग’ घर काजो रे
The blue-green dawn landscape of Lake Moraine in Banff National Park, Canada feels right for this Kedar prakar. Dawn is a good time for all mandra centric work.