TRIBUTE TO THE NANDKISHORES, TWO PIONEERS OF INDIAN CLASSICAL MUSIC AND DANCE IN MAURITIUS

Mr. and Mrs Nandkishore are no more. Mr, Nandkishore passed away on 18th October 2008 and Mrs. Nandkishore on 18th January of this year.
Gurujis for students, uncle and aunty for many of us and the Nandkishores for others, have been very active in the musical field of Mauritius. They were delegated by the Indian government to teach the performing arts namely Hindustani classical music and dance in Mauritius through the school of Indian music and dance, which opened on 11th April 1964. In 1975.The school merged into what is now the school of Performing Arts of the Mahatma Gandhi Institute. The school is celebrating its 50 years of existence.
In the 70s and 80,s, whenever one would talk about Indian classical music and dance, the name of the Nandkishores would be widespread and nationwide. They are among the pioneers of Indian classical music and dance teaching in Mauritius. Indian music and dance was not taught systematically as an art form prior to their arrival in Mauritius. Lovers of music were imitating film music and dance and reproducing what was already existent. Along with Dr. Iswarduth Nundlall, the first Mauritian D. Mus. holder, this couple changed the whole Mauritian scene through the School of Indian music and dance, where they served as music and dance experts to lay the base of what was going to later become Mahatma Gandhi institute’s department of music and dance.
Mr. and Mrs  Nandkishore  were both experts in their own field. Mr Nandkishore taught North Indian vocal and instrumental music and Mrs. Nandkishore, the kathak dance style, her main field, along with Bharat Natyam and the other dance styles. The versatility of both these musicians was very profitable to the Mauritian students. During their attachment at the school, this couple served the nation at large through their teaching, their own performances, music and dance programmes, and dance ballets. The school was present everywhere nationally and on international platform too- Canada, France, Reunion islands, Madagascar for different programmes on different occasions, festivals and celebrations.
 The Nandkishores gradually but surely conquered the heart of the Mauritians by their humbleness and their deep commitment. They had a mission and were very sincere in their work. Their students gained the discipline of learning and performing and experienced the great amount of effort and devotion required by those pursuing these art forms. The courses were well planned and music and dance evolved from a hobby to well defined, structured and examinable courses. The students had all the intricacies and seriousness required by the learner, and the respect for their guru, enhanced teaching and learning.
In less than a year, the school put up its first show with the students at Plaza theatre. It was the first time that Mauritian students sang and danced after having obtained training in the subject.  This was but the beginning. The following year and afterwards the best student was given a scholarship by the Indian government to study Indian classical music and dance in India at prestigious institutions like kalashetra, kathakendra , Baroda university etc. they were all the students of the school guided by these two experts. They in turn came back to expand this rich art form .Thus the  school could cater for its ever growing number of students in different disciplines. Apart from vocal and kathak dance, Instrumental music and other dance forms too found its place in the curriculum of study.
 In recognition for her excellent service and her selfless devotion to the cause of  promoting Indian culture, Mrs. Nandkishore was conferred the title of the Commander of the order of the star and key of the Indian Ocean” by the president of the republic on 12th march 1999.an honour she rightly deserved.
 Staging a dance ballet with about 30 and more artistes with all the side arrangements is not an easy task;   however, the couple never feared the challenge and contributed to make the Mauritian musical world rich in programmes, encouraging blooming artistes in all strata. Some of their well known and much appreciated dance ballets are as follows:
1966: Mauritius ki Shristi , written by Somduth Bhuckory and staged by the students of the School of Indian music and Dance on the occasion of Port Louis  being given the status of city.
1969; Apsara by Raymond K-Vern, presented at Confolens in France.
1970: Chandalika , a French adaptation of Tagore’s play of the same title by Marcel Cabon in and called Malika et le mendicant
1971: A dance ballet called Ritu Shringar depicting the four seasons: summer, winter, spring and autumn
1977 and 1979 Chitrangada and Panchvati presented by students of secondary schools
1982: Shakuntala of kalidas in dance drama form
1987: Sampurna Ramayan; the whole of Ramayan based on the dohas and chawpayis of the Ramcharitmanas,  Varuna written by Mrs. Surya Gayan, was a dance drama staged on the occasion of Festival de la mer and The love story of prince Saleem and Anarkali.
  Ek Gaon ki kahani, depicting the events taking place in a village from morning till night, was also staged the same year. It lasted with a wedding ceremony.
2002: The Web of Existence, script by Ananda Devi Anenden, this dance ballet was choreographed on both Indian and western music background.
In the words of the Nandkishores:
“The 39 years we have spent in Mauritius has been for us the time to form many Mauritians in the field of performing arts and they have in no way lost their passion for this art. We laid the base.  In February 1965 we inaugurated the first programme of oriental music on the national television.  Mr. Nandkishore added “We have not only worked in Mauritius since the days of the Prime Minister chacha Ramgoolam but served all the successive governments in place for the love of the performing arts and culture.”
This statement shows the whole mission and commitment of the Nandkishores. . They were present in the different cultural field of the Mauritian scenery as music advisor to the ministry of education and the ministry of arts and culture, until their formal retirement from the service. They fulfilled their mission successfully and they left for their motherland with a heart, full of joy and satisfaction to have been a part in the evolution and development of Indian classical music and dance in this island.
They left us, their students, not only with good memories but mostly with fruitful experiences and knowledge to impart the arts of music and dance, to be undaunted and ever ready to perform and to serve music and dance till our last breath.
On behalf of my family and on my own behalf, I would like to present my deepest sympathy to Divya , their daughter and her family and all those who grieve their deaths. May their soul rest in peace.
Source: Interview with Mr. and Mrs.Nandkishore at their residence in Vacoas,Mauritius for my book entitled” the Global Impact of Indian Music, with reference to Mauritius.”published in 2005

Dr.  Mrs.  GAUTAMI  BHAGAT  RAMYAD
Phone:6970273
113 ALLEE BRILLANT, CASTEL, PHOENIX
Mob: 59179912


Commentaires

I still remember their flamboyance in the 1970s. But also, there are great names like Ram Prakash who wrote very 'tasty' Hindi books for the primary and the Arun couple, Rajendra and Veenu, who are also liked by Mauritians. There was also another great Indian in the field of Drama in the 1970s. Great memories indeed.