Musical Fiesta Peppered With Pop Appeal

Musical Fiesta Peppered With Pop Appeal
Vinita Faridi

When stalwarts like Pandit Birju Maharaj, Pandit Debu Chaudhuri and Ustad Shafaat Ahmed Khan, each a legend in his respective field, come together on the same platform, it is ironical that what the audience is most attracted to is a dance recital based on Maharajji"s choreography for Sanjay Leela Bhansali"s Devdas. "It is as if I never did anything before Devdas," says Maharajji, who has recreated the piece for the Ustad Mustaq Ali Khan (UMAK) music festival, to be held at the Kamani Auditorium this evening, "nor is it my first foray into films (he had earlier choreographed for Satyajit Ray"s Shatranj Ke Khilari)."

"The moment people came to know about it, demand for passes just shot up," says Chaudhuri, who has dedicated this year"s festival, held annually since 1993, to his wife Manjushree who died of cancer last year.

"It is a sad reflection on the times, where people are more inclined towards fusion and confusion. But I still believe in the purity of form and am trying my utmost to maintain the traditions followed by the Senia Gharana, the oldest traditional school of music named after Tansen," he adds, "and play the sitar in the original 17 frets, whereas all others play in 19 or 20 frets." Chaudhuri is today among the foremost exponent of this Gharana, having trained for 38 years under Ustad Mustaq Ali Khan, and the tradition is being continued by his son and disciple Prateek Chaudhuri

While maestros like Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma and Pandit Bhimsen Joshi have earlier performed at the UMAK festival, for this year"s festival Chaudhuri has invited all the artists who are "like family and are playing for free. Birju Maharaj is my brother and Shafaat, who has played the tabla with the who"s who of classical music, is like my son."

And the family is all set for some great music, all in the classical tradition.

Source: Times of India, New Delhi


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