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Book, Film Mark Writer Mohan Nadkarni's Centenary

Updated: Oct 11

A biography with selected writings of writer, musicologist and lifelong promoter of Indian performing arts, Mohan Nadkarni, was launched in Auckland Friday last week (23 Sep). The day marked the centenary of the noted writer who was born on 22 September a hundred years ago. He passed away in Auckland in 2014.


Launching the book in the midst of an invited audience at the Auckland Indian Association’s Mahatma Gandhi Centre, Honorary Consul of India in Auckland Bhav Dhillon said that it was heartening to note that Mohan Nadkarni’s legacy of promoting traditional and classical Indian performing arts, artistes and striving to give performance platforms and opportunities to young artistes was being pursued in New Zealand.

A 25-minute film of tributes to Mohan Nadkarni by artistes from all over the world was also screened on the evening along with fine performances of music by Auckland’s talented artistes Kishori Telang, Manjit Singh, Samir Bhalodkar, Lester Silver and Anand Thakore. The evening ended with a dinner.

Curious to know more about the life and work of the celebrated musicologist, several attendees bought copies of the book, authored by his son Dev Nadkarni, Founding Editor of the Indian Weekender.

Mohan Nadkarni spent the last eight years of his life in New Zealand and upon his passing in 2014 his family formed the Mohan Nadkarni Foundation to continue his life’s work in the service of promoting India’s traditional and classical performing arts. In 2021, the foundation and the century-old Auckland Indian Association Inc, (AIAI) came together to form CIPA, the Centre for Indian Performing Arts, a website for which was also launched by well-known Auckland based arts promoter Harshad Patel.

Welcoming the audience, AIAI President Dhansukh Lal said that since the earliest days of AIAI, it had been the association’s aim to promote arts and culture of India and with the Mohan Nadkarni Foundation coming on board, a renewed vigour had been brought to those efforts. Just a day after CIPA was launched on August 15 2021, when the Government of India also announced a grant for CIPA, New Zealand was plunged into a lockdown. Yet, three quality concerts had already been hosted by CIPA this year alone, Lal said.

Dev Nadkarni outlined his father’s work in the field and said that his ideas in finding creative ways to promote and fund quality performing arts was something CIPA would emulate in New Zealand and asked community leaders present at the event to come together and work to promote expressive arts and artistes from their respective communities through CIPA.

The Mohan Nadkarni Centenary Concert series is being held in different countries to mark his centenary year. In July, a concert was held in Melbourne. Last week’s Auckland concert was the second. More concerts are scheduled in India and Europe this year and next year.

Mohan Nadkarni, was one of India’s most well-known musicologists and perhaps the most published author on the subject. He was the music critic of The Times of India for over 50 years, having reviewed thousands of concerts between 1948 and 2002.

He authored over 4000 articles and authored some 10 books. He also consulted with recording companies. He won several awards including the Karnataka State Government’s Kalashree award for lifetime’s contribution to music. He lectured and held workshops on Hindustani music in several cities in India as well as in Switzerland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom among other countries. He addressed the World Music Forum in Rotterdam in the Netherlands in 1995.

Before migrating, to New Zealand to join family, Mohan Nadkarni donated his entire musical library comprising thousands of articles and rare photographs, rare LP and 78RPM records and thousands of cassettes to the music department of the SNDT University in Pune, where a musical library has been set up in his name.

For copies of the book, please email info@cipa.org.nz