‘Khayal’ is a contemporary popular form of Hindustani classical vocal music to present a complete picture of the melodic scale called the ‘Raga’. Its genesis is the austere form called ‘Dhrupad’. ‘Khayal’ is a Persian word, meaning ‘Thought’. The genius of the creator of the Raga in combination with the performer’s improvisation makes a ‘Khayal’.
There are two distinct compositions of the Khayal, also known as ‘Bandish’ in a performance. The ‘vilambit’ Khayal or Bandish is sung in a slow rhythmic cycle. This is followed by the ‘Madhya laya’ or ‘Drut’ khayal or Bandish sung in a medium to fast tempo.
Bandish is divided into two parts, namely the ‘Sthai’ which is sung in the lower and middle register of the melodic scale, and the ‘Antara’ which is sung in the upper and middle register of the melodic outline. ‘Khayal’ soon gained popular acceptance because of its communicative nature. Thus encouraging performers to further experiment with its style, thereby enhancing its beauty.
Smt. Lakshmi Shankar is one of India’s most renowned vocalists whose unique background encompasses both the Carnatic and Hindustani traditions.
Born in 1926, she initially started her career in dancing. In 1939, when Uday Shankar brought his dance troupe to Madras, she decided to join the Almora center to learn Uday Shankar’s original style of dance based on the Indian classics and became a part of his troupe. That is when her association to the Shankar family began. She married Uday Shankar’s brother, Rajendra (Raju). After a period of illness during which she had to give up dancing, and already having had a background of carnatic music, she moved to Hindustani classical music and trained rigorously for many years under Ustad Abdul Rehman khan of the Patiala Gharana. Later, she also trained with prof. B.R. Deodhar and Pt. Ravi Shankar, the Sitar maestro.
Around 1947, she worked on the historic adaptation of Pandit Nehru’s Discovery of India, a work that prompted Nehru to say, “The ballet’s better than my book.”>p> Lakshmi shankar’s musical prowess spread over different genres of classical and semi-classical music. Be it Thumri, Bhajan or Geet she mesmerized audiences equally. Her mastery over live concerts as well as recordings was showcased in her popular jugalbandis with Smt. Nirmala Arun. She has numerous recordings to her credit and has lent her voice to many films, including the Academy award-winning ‘Gandhi’ by Sir Richard Attenborough. Since then she has recorded widely in varying capacities and styles including Tamil folk songs, Hindu devotional songs of all sorts, film work, and for television documentaries.
The opening Khayal in Raga Gunkali, is a morning melody. Lakshmi Shankar’s beautiful rendition sets the mood of hope and prayer.
Lakshmi Shankar’s rendition of Raga madhmad sarang, an early afternoon raga is as sweet and playful as all the other members of the sarang clan.
The next Khayal in the rare raga Jansammohini, followed by the Tarana in Teentaal, is a true testimony to Lakshmi Shankar’s musical prowess.
Madhukauns, a Jod Raga, is a combination of Ragas Madhuvanti and Malkauns. With its own unique personality, this night raga creates a serene environment. Her brilliant rendition of the Vilambit khayal set to Jhoomra Taal, is a challenge even to the most accomplished.
The concluding khayal in Teentaal is a compositon in Raga kirwani by the legendary Bharat Ratna Pt. Ravi Shankar. The virtuosity of Lakshmi Shankar’s authority over khayal is amply demonstrated here.
Although Lakshmi Shankar’s main forte is her command over Thumris, this album is unique as it presents her rare khayal recordings, set to a variety of Taals. A treat to the music connoisseur.
From the CD
1. RAGA - GUNKALI 
Khayal Roopak “Anand Aaj Mera Man Bhaye”
2. RAGA - MADHMAD SARANG 
Khayal Vilambit Ektaal “He Mukh Sawaro”
Khayal Drut Teentaal “Boleri Ho Kagwa”
3. RAGA - JANSAMMOHINI 
Khayal Vilambit Ektaal “Aaj More Ghar Aaye”
Khayal Drut Teentaal “Ghar Aangana Kachhu Nahin Bhaye”
Tarana - Teentaal “Dere Ni Dim Tadani
4. RAGA - MADHUKAUNS 
Khayal Vilambit Jhoomra “Man Har Lino”
Khayal Drut Teentaal “Sun Heri Naar”
Tarana - Teentaal
5. RAGA - KIRWANI 
Khayal Vilambit Ektaal “Sajan Aaye”
Khayal Drut Teentaal “Nat Sagara Ati Sundar”
COMPOSITION - PANDIT RAVI SHANKAR