Pelva Naik is one of the very few women exponents of Dhrupad - a genre of Indian classical music. Born and brought up in Ahmedabad, her’s was a family with cultural proclivities that extended from classical arts and music to dance, cinema and literature. She developed an interest in performing Indian classical music from a very young age and went on to pursue her high school studies in the Krishnamurti Foundation school - based on the philosophy of philosopher J. Krishnamurti.
She says, “It was here, at the age of seventeen that I met my teacher- Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar- one of the finest exponents of Dagar school of Dhrupad music. After initial training from Rudraveena maestro Ustad Bahauddin Dagar, I went on to learn Dhrupad as a full-time disciple from Ustad Z. F. Dagar Sahab, in Mumbai.”
Naik admits that women, throughout the social history, be it in India or elsewhere in the world, reluctantly or by choice, seems to have followed the ways of patriarchy. Some were destined to walk their own way to freedom and stood apart.
She feels that abundance of time and liberty of expression are the two factors that play a major role towards pursuing and mastering a performing art form. The ways of patriarchy left little space for the women of their households to pursue such dispensations.
“From the point of view of an art form such as Dhrupad, in, I think it is the matter of least concern as to which gender pursues Dhrupad more and which less. The concern is –How TRUE the individual singer/musician IS towards the art form?”
“That being said, from the point of view of an art form such as Dhrupad, in, I think it is the matter of least concern as to which gender pursues Dhrupad more and which less. The concern is –How TRUE the individual singer/musician IS towards the art form? Be it a man or a woman,” she adds.
Singing has been bringing a deep sense of happiness to Naik since she was a little girl. As she found her way into pursuing the art of Dhrupad, this sense of joy solidified, adding a severe need within to understand this music to its core - “It is a matter of communication, true expression, rediscovering and creation.”
Is it difficult to keep people interested in Indian classical music when electronically composed music is becoming increasingly popular?
She says, “Indian Classical music is intimately connected with the ancient culture of India. As the culture changes, the means to identify with the culture too goes through a change. Electronically composed music and its popularity is a reflection of today’s cultural identity.
I don’t see it as a threat towards the identity of Indian classical music. I strongly believe that an art form does not need popularity in order to survive its identity.”
Teaching music, sharing and the sense of responsibility that comes with it, opens new paths that ultimately reconnects one’s work to the roots.
Naik informs that for her, teaching is an extension of the learning process. Teaching, sharing and the sense of responsibility that comes with it, opens new paths that ultimately reconnects one’s work to the roots. Rediscovering, reviewing happens beautifully through the medium of teaching.
I make sure I cook some fine food every day. The kitchen is my second Riaaz room.
The singer who completed her masters in Philosophy with a distinction is also deeply interested in history and metaphysics. She says, “I read, write and paint. Cooking for me is one among the higher arts and I make sure I cook some fine food every day. The kitchen is my second Riaaz room. I love gardening, horticulture and working with children.
In five years, the talented singer hopes to discover new depths in Dhrupad music.
Pelva Naik at Fès World Sacred Music Festival 2017 © Laurent Védrine for ECHO (Paris)