Thungri a form of classical song. It is a simple raga song placed immediately after kheyal. The melody of this music is very sweet, so it is also called thungri. The earliest mention of thungri is found in Ragadarpana, a book written by Fakirullah in the 17th century. At that time a kind of song was performed in sweet melody of baronya raga, which was called thungri. Through reformation over time this song eventually turned into a kind of raga song.
Although thungri is raga sabgit, the dominant element in it is feeling, not raga. So various ragas are combined in it. Just as kheyal is simpler than dhrupad, thungri is simpler than kheyal. Its far as ragas are concerned, this song is more flexible than kheyal and its melody is sweeter. It has shribgara (erotic) rasa (sensuousness or feeling) to deal with, so all kinds of necessary ornamental dressing are added to it to express the concerned rasa. Thungri is divided into two tuks (sections)- sthayi and antara. Words are few and less important and feeling is of primary importance. With the application of small tan (tune), murki, khatka, gitkiri etc, thungri is given its unique beauty.
Thungri is performed more in some special ragas and tals (rhyme). Of the ragas, kafi, khambaj, tilang, tilak-kamod, bhairabi, pilu etc and of the tals, yat, trital, dadra, kaharba, puvjabi, dipchandi, dhumali etc, are notable. Starting at a slow pace, its final part is performed fast either in kaharba or trital. This is called laggi.
The performance of thungri is marked by two characteristics (abga)- purbi and puvjabi. The thungri sung in Benares and Lucknow is of purbi type. In punjabi thungri the influence of tappa is noticeable. Tone, rather than words, has its predominance in it. Nowadays 'Punjabi' type has mingled with the purbi type. Without punjabi thungri, 'tan' has no place in purbi thungri.
The prevalent form of thungri had its origin in the 19th century. Its proponents were Ustad Sadiq Ali and Ustad Golam Nabi. However, a number of virtuosos with pseudonyms such as 'kadarpiya', 'lalanpiya', 'akhtarpiya' etc composed thungri. Most people believe that modern thungri had its origin at the court of Lucknow. Nawab Wajed Ali Shah was a committed patron of thungri. Under the pseudonym of akhtarpiya he composed a large number of thungri songs. Thanks to him, thungri was introduced and widely practised in Bengal through the Lucknow gharana (tradition) of tabla (small drum like musical instrument). [Mobarak Hossain Khan]