Indian classical vocalist Pandit Jasraj on Thursday disagreed with the oft spoken concept of a “golden era” in music, saying there is a time in every generation which can be called its finest.
“There is golden age in every era. It’s not that there was a golden age yesterday, and today it is not there. There is a golden period now also and in this moment,” Jasraj told a select group of mediapersons at the Bengal Classical Music Festival where he is performing for the first time.
“I think the time we are in, any era, is the golden period because 100 years earlier we do not know what used to happen. We tell from what we read. But we are not accurate about it. Jo dekhte hai, jo sunte hai, jo mehsus karte hai hum batate hai (what we see, hear and feel is what we say),” said the 87-year old fifth generation classical vocalist of the Mewati gharana.
Jasraj said during his formative years, people used to listen to the greats back then and gloat over their craft saying this will never come back. But the audiences now equally revel in the afterglow of today’s maestros.
“When we used to listen to renowned musicians, we liked them and there people used to say ‘aaha ustaad, panditji…this won’t be replicated again.
“But today, they say the same thing listening to even youngsters who are good that ‘ustadji aapne kya kar dia (what magic did you do)? Why do these things happen. It’s because the moment we are standing in is the golden period.
“Even if its not the golden period, we can make it the golden period,” he said.
Sitting beside the Sangeet Martand, his daughter and television figure Durga Jasraj underlined the argument by recounting an incident where her father used his vocal powers to drum up a dust storm and bring rains during a private concert in New Delhi.
“I have witnessed his journey very closely. We have read about Tansen ji’s ‘die jaale’, ‘baarish hui’ …I have experienced that with his music.
“He has made us believe that golden period is what you make of it many times. I will give you one incident. It was May and it was a full moon night in Delhi. Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister. His biggest advisor had called us at his residence for some inauguration.
“At his house, the Who’s Who of Delhi was there. He said: ‘I will sing Dhulia Malhar’ and described that it is sung before the monsoon and that it means a duststorm will come before it starts raining. I was on the stage with him wondering why was he singing Dhulia Malhar in May. Trust me, he sang and within 20 minutes there was a dhul ki aandhi (duststorm) from nowhere and it rained and how,” she narrated.
Asked about the scenario of Indian classical music, Jasraj said there is enough patronage for today’s artists and that is the reason there are so many youngsters taking up the genre.
“Indian classical music is in good hands. The patronisation is also very good. From India, you see mostly young artists coming to perform.
“The other day (at the festival), we saw two youngsters (flute-sitar jugalbandi by Rakesh Chaurasia and Purbayan Chatterjee) combining so well. If they are playing so well this early in their careers, it shows good patronisation is there. Public support is there that’s why they are such good artists.”
He also indirectly praised the BJP government at the centre, saying because of it, India is living in peace these days.
“We are living in a peaceful environment today and there is no infighting (among musicians). That also helps us make better music.”