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Every year, classical music lovers swarm to Mumbai’s National Centre for Performing Arts for the Bandish festival, a three-day event that honours India’s legendary composers with the country’s most acclaimed classical maestros performing their works in the signature styles prescribed by their respective gharanas (musical lineage).

Starting 12 July, this festival presents live Indian classical music at its best and is a beautiful way to experience poetic verse and complex rhythm.

A “bandish” loosely translates as a fixed composition of notes. The singer uses this as a musical backbone to render the original composition into a qawwali, khayal or thumri (styles of singing). Unlike Western classical music, there are no written notations and the singer relies on orally handed down renditions, so no one can predict how the “cover” version will play out.

The festival opens with Talat Aziz singing ghazals by the iconic poets Mirza Ghalib and Faiz Ahmed Faiz. “Ghazals are a special genre of Indian music where the focus is on a perfect combination of classical Indian music and classical Urdu poetry,” Aziz said.

On 13 July, Malini Rajurkar will showcase the exquisite works of Shrikrishna Ratanjankar (Sujan), celebrated vocalist, composer and scholar of the Agra Gharana. Ulhas Kashalkar will present celebrated khayal compositions of Vilayat Hussain Khan (Pranpiya) of Agra Gharana and his pupil Gajananbuwa Joshi on the same evening. Kaushiki Chakrabarty will perform thumri and dadra compositions originally created by brothers Barkat Ali Khan and Bade Ghulam Ali Khan (Sabrang) of the Patiala Gharana  on 14 July.

The highlight of the festival is the closing act. Known mostly for his accomplishment as a Kathak (Indian classical dance) performer, Birju Maharaj will render thumris composed by his grandfather, Bindadin Maharaj of the Lucknow Gharana. You can either buy tickets at the venue or book them online. All performances begin at 6:30 pm.

Sharon Fernandes is the Mumbai Localite for BBC Travel 

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