Ankush Nayak : Creating a Forte in Hindustani Music
by Florine Roche
Daijiworld Media Network - Mangalore
Mangalore, Feb 9: The proponents of Hindustani music in Dakshina Kannada have every reason to rejoice as the prodigious Master Ankush Nayak scaled newer heights in music by securing 1st prize in national level music competition in Hindustani Instrumental (Sitar) conducted by All India Radio declared in December 2009 in the age group of (16-24). He received the award in Delhi recently. By doing so he has successfully challenged the dominance of the Northerners who consider it to be their citadel as far as Hindustani music is concerned. Akashavani Awards are prestigious and considered to be the stepping stone for further excellence in music and Ankush is the first Dakshina Kannadiga to win a 1st place in Hindustani music ever since Akashavani Mangalore was established in 1978.
There is another first in the Nayak family as far as Akashavani music is concerned. His father educationist Narendra Nayak (Expert Coaching) was the first auditioned artiste of All India Radio Mangalore, in Hindustani music (Harmonium). Ankush deserves kudos for the incredible commitment he shows and the single minded determination with which he pursues music practicing every day even during exams or even when he goes out of Mangalore. Moreover competing and winning with those who pursue music full time, is a stupendous accomplishment. “I do feel happy and proud having achieved this feat. My hard work and determination has borne desired results and has given me the satisfaction”, Ankush says.
Reward for Hard Work
For an 18 year old who does is First year B Tech from National Institute of Technology, Surathkal, Ankush looks quite mature and studious unlike others of his age. Ever since winning the Akashavani award accolades have been pouring in from everywhere commending his achievements. In January 2010, he was awarded the Ravi Koppikar Memorial Award instituted jointly by Music Forum of Mumbai and ITC Sangeet Research Academy. No separate applications need to be sent for getting this award. Any one who wins the first place in Akashavani national awards that too in Sitar, is automatically selected for this prominent award.
His left hand fingers bear the brunt of his daily practice on Sitar and he cannot bluff anyone saying he practices everyday. “Usually when someone says he/she practices everyday the fingers have to stand testimony for this. The skin on the index and middle finger is dead as a result of pulling the strings constantly and one gets a black mark on the fingers. This dead skin helps the Sitarist to get good grip on the strings”, he explains.
Born on 16th December 1991, his parents Educationists Narendra Nayak and Ushaprabha Nayak nurtured the talents of Ankush at a young age. At the age of 41/2 when most children play with toys Ankush was initiated into Carnatic vocal music as his parents were great connoisseurs of music. Apart from parental interest Ankush did not evince much interest in Carnattic music. Everything changed when Ankush turned 9 and for the better.
The Birthday Gift
It was the lure of music that made his parents arrange for a Sitar Concert of Ustad Rafiq Khan, a Khandani Sitarist, who is a staff artiste in All India Radio, Mangalore, on the 9th birthday of Master Ankush. For the first time Ankush was exposed to Hindustanic music and he was captivated by the music. His mother Ushaprabha Nayak says “till them Ankush was into music where he never enjoyed. He was into it because we had sent him. When he heard the Sitar concert he felt it was more interesting than the Carnatic music”.
Once he evinced interest his parents arranged for his Sitar lessons with Ustad Rafiq Khan. Initially it started with one lesson a week and as the days passed the master and pupil struck a good comradeship and Ankush became inured to daily practice. “We focused on quality practice on a daily basis. Basically he has good grasping power and over a period of few years he showed signs of excelling”, says Rafeeq Khan about his prodigious pupil.
It goes to the credit of Rafiq Khan unlike other musicians who tutor many children he concentrated on one child devoting his full time and energy to bring to fore his talent. The result has been overwhelmingly fruitful as Ankush has been scaling newer heights each passing day winning honours for his talent. Ushaprabha says “artistes are no doubt born but they need a guru to mould them. Even Tendulkar had a guru who fine-tuned his talents and Rafeeq has done just that - molding the innate talent of Ankush”. Ankush also learnt Carnatic music calculations from Ghatam Maestro K R Kumar, which enabled him to overcome whatever lacuna he had.
Success came searching for him from a young age once he began to participate in competitions. He has received numerous awards at district, state and national levels, including the prestigious the national award “Kala Aparanji” bestowed by Kannada Makkale Mane, Bangalore, at the age of 15. Winning this award gave him a big impetus to his music career making him realize his own talent as the institute had conducted many music programmes. He was also made the President of Kannada Makkala Mane 2007-2009 which gave him enough exposure. While success became a regular affair it was one failure, that too for the first time, that changed his attitude making him burn with a desire to go for the kill. He participated in the Akashavani Annual awards last year and the loss proved to be his stepping stone to come out in flying colours this time around.
Akashavani national awards are held in high esteem in India as there is no room for nepotism or partiality. From each station only one or two candidates are allowed to participate in the competition. The recordings are sent to Delhi from respective stations and many get eliminated in the first round. The participants do not know the judges and vice versa. There is a keen contest in the second round and with the northerners dominating the Hindustani music a sizeable chunk of awards are usually bagged by them. This time around Master Ankush has made a foray in their fortress.
Ankush has performed in many prestigious national and international concerts. In 2008 he had performed in Singapore during Deepavali festival. In December 2009 he performed a concert in Los Angeles, USA, conducted by DHWANi Muscic School.
Winning the Akashavani award has brought more responsibility to Ankush, his teacher and the family. Narendra Nayak says “after winning the award Ankush is watched with fanatical interest by everyone especially those from the north. Normally when South Indians gets an award the expectations are high. Now he has to prove that it was not by fluke he won the award. He has to show he really has it in him and that calls for hard work”.
Ankush never shies away from hard work. He has been able to strike a balance between his academics and music and come out with flying colours in both. So where is he going from here? “Presently I have not given much though to it. I still have lots of years to go. I will try to balance between my academics and music both complimenting each other”. When it comes to the question of finding time for his practice he says “Sitar has become a part of my routine. Somehow it is possible to make time for practicing Sitar. Whenever there is free time I just practice”, he explains.
Ankush wears his success with élan showing maturity beyond his age. With his determination and perseverance this youngster is sure to achieve greater heights in the days to come both in academics and in music.