Yogesh Chander Deveshwar —popularly known as ‘Yogi’ — not only transformed ITC Ltd into a diversified company but also stood like a rock behind its vision of strengthening the guru-shishya (mentor-protege) module of training in arts through ITC’s Sangeet Research Academy in Kolkata. Following Yogi Deveshwar’s recent demise, the Hyderabad-based cultural organisation Surmandal organised an evening of semi-classical music and bhajans in his memory. Swapnil Mistry, Neha Mehta, and Bijal Parekh on vocals, Vijay Dhumal on the tabla, and Manish Solanki on the keyboard together rendered soulful music comprising renditions of compositions in Raga Yaman, Nand, Chayanat, Bihag, Nat Bhairavi, and Bhairavi.
The late Yogi Deveshwar was into both Hindustani as well as Carnatic music. “Yogi started his career in Chennai in the printing and packaging division. His stint in Chennai gave him an insight into Carnatic music, while his years in Bengal and in the north brought him closer to Hindustani music. He has attended most of the music festivals organised by the Sangeet Research Academy,” said S. Sivakumar, Head of ITC’s Agribusiness division.
“Yogi Deveshwar believed the philosophy could transcend into social welfare and so, he brought it into e-Choupal — the farming segment of the company. All the ‘lead farmers’ with infrastructure and knowledge had an unsigned guru-shishya contract to disseminate farming information to the whole village irrespective of caste or creed,” he added. As the programme progressed, the musicians presented Shanti Mantra, a composition from the album Inside the Kremlin by sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar. They further sang popular semi-classical songs like Madhuram Madhuram, Bhaja Govindam, Baje Muraliya, Aisi Laagi Lagaan, and Kanha Re. In addition to the above, Swapnil sang some fast-paced musical notes and a Tarana, which displayed his ability to innovate and transition into different compositions following the same raga. It was truly a noble musical offering to the departed soul.