As a child, vocalist Shounak Abhisheki was surrounded by music. His father, the late maestro Pandit Jitendra Abhisheki, used the gurukul method of teaching. Students would stay at home. “My father would begin riyaaz at 3.45 a.m. His disciples would join. With a few breaks in between, it would go on till night,” recalls the 46-year-old Pune-based singer. Abhisheki will perform at the Udayaswar monthly series of morning organised by Pancham Nishad and Prithvi Theatre this weekend. The speciality of the concerts is that it doesn’t use amplification.

Pure sound

“Such events help us rediscover the strength of our own voice. There is a pure exchange with the audience,” says Abhisheki. He explains that as a teenager, he had begun sitting on stage with his father. “Those days the sound equipment wasn’t advanced and artistes didn’t pay much attention to that. Lights would go off but they had to continue,” he points out. According to Abhisheki, his father treated all students equally. “He was strict but he passed on his knowledge with open hands.”

Besides Hindustani classical, Pandit Jitendra Abhisheki was also known for Marathi natya sangeet and abhang. Says the son, “He only taught Hindustani classical, not light music. We would observe his performances and learn from them.” Abhisheki’s grandfather was a kirtankar in Goa and they were related to Dinanath Mangeshkar. “My father was totally focused. When I was about 10 he taught me many bandishes, though I never knew the ragas,” he says.

Classical in intent

Abhisheki also learnt from Kamaltai Tambe, student of Mogubai Kurdikar. “That widened my perspective. Today my focus is on Hindustani classical. I have done some fusion projects with Louiz Banks, Trilok Gurtu, Vijay Ghate, Niladri Kumar and Rakesh Chaurasia, but have always stuck to the principles of the raga,” he says. Even in film music, Abhisheki chooses a song only if it has a classical base.

He has recently sung for the Marathi film
Pushpak Vimaan
. Earlier, he has recorded albums on Tulsidas and Kabir, besides abhangs sung by his father.

Abhisheki is also actively involved with a charitable trust founded by his father. “We help elderly musicians and younger artistes with financial needs. For these we organise in Pune, Goa, Nashik and Ujjain, besides other cities,” he says.

The vocalist says besides the compositions, the biggest thing he learnt from his father was the importance of riyaaz. “If I am at home, I spend as much time as possible practising. While travelling, I rehearse in my dressing room. For us, riyaaz is like food,” he concludes.

Shounak Abhisheki will perform at the [email protected] series on Sunday, July 15 at 7.30 a.m.; for more details see

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