There is not a soul in the world of Hindustani as well as Karnatak music that does not know the name Gaan-Saraswati Kishori Amonkar. Lovingly called “Kishoritai”, she inherited the rich tradition of Jaipur Gharana from her mother and Guru, late Gaan-Tapaswini Mogubai Kurdikar. While Kishoritai mastered all the richness and nuances of this Gharana through decades of focused Riyaaz under her mother and other Gurus, there was a magical unpredictability in her Khayal. It was complex and pulsating, yet profoundly meditative. She abhorred unnecessary displays of virtuosity, and warned those hankering for applause through on-stage gimmickry, that they were misusing the medium to excite listeners when, in essence, the role of music was to take them to a place of absolute silent devotion.
For Gaan-Saraswati Kishoritai, the tonal purity of the sur reigned supreme, and it was her matchless ability to paint its delicate hues, invoking the most fragile microtones, that gave her singing that extraordinary luminosity. So tall were her artistic accomplishments that many core Raagas in the Hindustani pantheon came to be singularly associated with her renditions of them, making her a role model for many accomplished artists of the next generation. No wonder, she had emerged as the tallest of all avant-garde radical vocalists India has produced.
Dr. Arun Dravid began learning under Kishoritai in the early sixties when she had just started performing publicly. He continued to do so intermittently till the early 2000s, by which time Kishoritai had emerged as the reigning diva of the Hindustani classical stage. Dr. Dravid witnessed the evolution of Kishoritai’s music, as she spurned conventions, broke new ground and became one of India’s greatest female vocalists.
Dr. Arun Dravid was a gold medalist at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay in 1966, and a Ph.D in chemical engineering MIT, USA. He rose up the ranks in an illustrious corporate career retiring as Chairman of the India operations of Jacobs Engineering, a global corporation. His long association with Kishoritai as her disciple and close confidant for almost five decades prompted him to institute this annual Puraskar as his homage to her. This Puraskar will not only perpetuate her memory beyond his own life time, but also enhance the richness of Hindustani Vocal Music by recognizing and prompting talented young artists to achieve greater heights.