Pelva Naik is one of India’s finest young Dhrupad vocalists. She is also one of the few women who sing the style, but believes that “gender dissolves once the tanpura starts”. Born into a Mumbai family of dancers, writers, and filmmakers, she studied a wide variety of creative forms as a child, including kathak, khayal, miniature painting, and literature in Hindi, Gujarati, and English.
At age 17 she found an instant bond with Dhrupad when Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar gave a workshop at her school (“it matched my element…like a rediscovery”). She soon became his disciple, as well as receiving instruction from Dagarvani veena maestro Ustad Bahauddin Dagar, and after school went to study full-time at the Panvel Dhrupad Gurukul. Today she continues to build a highly impressive performance resume as well as nurturing a passion for teaching.
She is keen to remind listeners that gender has always been more of a barrier to worldly success than to mastery of the music itself: “I still haven’t figured out [why] people say that Dhrupad is a masculine art form, or where that idea comes from...It’s just that on the public platform, men had more exposure...Ustad’s grandmother was a veena player. She used to practice veena at home, and teach the children”.
"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."
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