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#Musings with Nitin Amin: Raga Charukeshi

21 Song Salute to the Great Lata

Raga Charukeshi is a very sweet raga and a relatively recent addition to Hindustani Classical Music.

In this entry, let us begin with some popular hindi film songs. Kalyanji – Anandji used raga Charukeshi for a couple of their songs. The first one is from the film “Himalay ki göd mein”, and the song is “Ek tu na mila, sari duniya mili…” and another one is the title song from the film “Mere humsafar”. Also there is a song by the composer duo Shankar-Jaikishan for the film “Arzo”, and the song is “Bedardi balma tujko….”. One of my favorite songs is from the film “Dastak” by Madan Mohan, and the song is “Baiyan na dharo….”.

Raga Charukeshi is an import from Carnatic Music. Most such Hindustani Classical Music ragas which are borrowed from Carnatic Music were treated more as ‘scales’ and did not have very complex chalans. Charukeshi is one such raga that has become very popular especially with the instrumentalists.

Advanced listeners of hindustani classical music should notice that the uttarang - the second part of the scale, is that of raga Bhairavi, all swaras are komal – with komal dhaivat and komal nishad. And the poorvang - the first part of the scale, comprises all shuddha swaras with shuddha rishabh and shuddha gandhar. Hence when we observe the scale of Charukeshi closely, we can see that the poorvang and the uttarang do not share any pair ‘Sa-Pa’ or ‘Sa-Ma’ sangati.

Here we have shuddha rishabh (in poorvang) and it doesn’t match with komal dhaivat (in uttarang), if it would have been shuddha dhaivat it would have matched with shuddha rishabh. The same goes for shuddha gandhar and komal nishad. For all such ragas which do not have a notable samvad between poorvang and uttarang, it becomes difficult to expand them like with big ragas.

For such ragas in Hindustani Classical Music, we have found our own stereotypical viewpoints akin to their chalans. We can look at Charukeshi from multiple viewpoints. Sometimes we feel shuddha rishabh- komal dhaivat combination makes it sound like Nata Bhairav, and other times the komal nishad-komal dhaivat brings it closer to Darbari. But we avoid making a ‘direct’ use of phrases from Nata Bhairav and Darbari. Sometimes I even find Charukeshi closer to Jaunpuri than Darbari.

In Raga Charukeshi, as we go on stretching certain swaras or give prominence to a particular swara, the raga starts shaping up accordingly. For example we can have longer gandhar, or we can have longer dhaivat. Nishad is very short but when we stretch the madhyam, nishad will also get stretched. And then we have the characteristic rest on the pancham. There is resemblance to Nata Bhairav and Bhairavi. What is important to know about this versatile raga is that raga Charukeshi shapes up as we mold it.

We get asked very often, what is the appropriate time of day for singing raga Charukeshi? Like discussed, different viewpoints would give us different times - if look from the viewpoint of Nata Bhairav or Jaunpuri then that will make it morning raga, view point of Darbari will make it night raga and view point of Bhairavi will make it morning raga.

Watch the full video about Raga Charukeshi in HINDI with beautiful bandish composed by Pandit Ratanjankar- Raga Parichay : Charukeshi

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