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Potpourri of diverse renditions

Meena Banerjee | New Delhi |

Sree Satyananda Devayatan celebrated the birthday of Sarada Maa with exemplary devotion through the classical music-based Sur yog. The two-day celebration featured young maestros on whose shoulders rest the future of the classical traditions of music. 
The first evening started with vocalist Nabhodeep Chakrabarty’s devotion-charged delineation of raga gavati (Aas lagi tum charanana ki, slow ektal and Araj sun leejo fast teental). His next choice was a famed composition of Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Mahadev Dev Maheshwara in raga bhupali. The majestic gait of the raga highlighted the import of the lyrics with telling effect. Well accompanied by Surajit Saha and Pradip Palit on the tabla and harmonium respectively, Nabhodeep concluded with a majh khamaj-based Tulsidas bhajan followed by a bhairavi piece.
The final evening saw sarod exponent Debanjan Bhattacharya offering a brilliant version of Chandranandan, a beautiful raga invented by his guru Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. Dedicating his recital to his guruma, the late Amina Perera, he played an evocative alap with gentle strokes, lingering long notes, accentuated by deliberate meends and a reposeful mood. 
This mood was maintained in the jod-jhala segments as well, as he swiftly replaced some bold bol-bani based phrases with soft melody of the raga that sports both the gandhars in a way to create pathos.
Abhishek Chatterjee’s tabla joined him during the teental gatkaris with rock-solid theka but offered delightful rhythmic permutations when his turn came to give replies to the sarod’s skilful laya-chhanda, taans, tihais et al. Even at breakneck speed both youngsters displayed good anticipation. Bhattacharya concluded with raga bhairavi that began with a sitarkhani gat and moved on to a beautiful composition of Baba Alauddin Khan having a mukhda in two different speeds. A melodious jhala completed the picture. 

Shaili Academy of Music presented sitarist Sanjay Guha in a novel musical event at the Weavers Studio Centre for the Arts recently. Titled Khazana: Maihar and More, it actually unearthed the riches accumulated during the musical journey of the well-travelled musician’s lively discussion with well-known musician couple, sitarist Partha Bose and Esha Bandopadhyay. This included a special focus on gayaki ang and anecdotes about interactions with legendary maestroes such as Balmuralikrishna and Mushtari Bai, whose bhairavi dadra was the concluding piece played by Guha.
Earlier he began with a dhrupad anga alap and jod in Yaman kalyan, followed by a gat in mattatal (nine beats). The rendition was marked by subtle application of shuddh madhyam and rhythmic intricacy in gatkari. The following medium-paced teental gat displayed an unconventional sam on teevra madhyam. Trained predominantly in the Maihar tradition by Pandit Deepak Choudhury and legendary maestro Ravi Shankar, Guha is known for his research in rare ragas and bandishes. He played a Firoze Khani gat in khamaj, which was characterised by an asthai spread over three octaves! It made the manjha and antara superfluous. The dhamar gat in the same raga also stood out for melodic and rhythmic uniqueness.

Inspired by the santoor maestro Tarun Bhattacharya’s efforts to promote Indian classical music among the masses, Weaver’s Studio and Play On presented an evening of thumris featuring Bina Sen who is a dedicated and accomplished performer and teacher. She is pursuing a PhD (Sangeet Acharya) in thumri and dadra under the guidance of Tapasi Ghosh at the University of Kolkata. 
Sen started the evening with Jab se shyama sidhaare (kafi thumri) followed by Dheere dheere jhulao Sukumari siya ho (peelu, jhoola), Ghir ayee kali badaria (kaushik dhwani, kajri) and ended with Rangi saari gulabi chunaria (khamaj, dadra). She was ably supported by Jyotirmoy Roychowdhury (tabla), Pandit Ramlal Mishra (sarangi) and Debaprasad Dey (harmonium).
In another event at Ankur Hall, SPARC presented classical music. The evening began with Gopal Sharma’s khayal recital in Yaman. He was ably supported by Sangram Roy (tabla) and Ramen Saha (harmonium). Next was a sarod recital by Subhrangshu Bhattacharjee. The well-tuned instrument and neat strokes made the delineations of the raga abhogi (alap-jod-jhala and teental gatkaris) enjoyable. He was accompanied by Krishnendu Paul’s sensitive (tabla). Debarghya Roy, who sang raga Malkauns khayals with emotive appeal, was also accompanied by Krishnendu Paul (tabla) and Kamalaksha Mukherjee was on the harmonium. Sitar player Sarmila Dutta, the final artist of the evening, played melodious alap-jod-jhala in raga jog. Ably supported by Shankar Patra on the tabla, she offered medium-paced jhaptal and drut teental gatkaris.

Drama fest
The second National Urdu Drama Festival was organised by the West Bengal Urdu Academy in Kala Mandir. The four-day fest featured five plays, from diverse parts of India. The festival was a huge success especially in terms of its reach as audiences came in encouraging numbers. They relished the performances and appreciated the initiative taken by the Urdu Academy.
The opening play was from Hyderabad, Quli: Dilon ka Shahzaada directed by Mohammad Ali Baig. With a blend of fine and performing arts, embellished with Indian classical and shadow dances, period sets and costumes, the play transported the audience to the 17th century Indian kingdom of Golconda through a philosophical tale of true love. 
Next day, two plays were staged, Ishq Malangi from Kashmir’s Amateur Theatre Group, directed by Sangeet Natak Academy awardee Mushtaq Kak and Akhiri Raat from Kolkata’s Universal Little Theatre group, directed by SM Rashid. Both plays were well received by audience with Ishq Malangi comprising mesmerising songs and music.
On the third evening, a highly acclaimed play, Jin Lahore Nahin Dekheya Wo Janmaya Hi Nahin, was presented by Bhopal’s Naya Theatre Group, originally directed by the legendary theatre personality Habeeb Tanveer. Based on a real incident during Partition, it covered the sensitive topic of religion-based differences in a witty manner with equal seriousness in parts. The audience adored the presentation with high praises for the performances. 
The festival culminated on a high note with a presentation from Kolkata’s elite theatre group Little Thespian in a packed auditorium. Dhokha, directed by Azhar Alam and translated by Uma Jhunjhunwala, was a gripping tale of betrayal, which displayed the government’s political propaganda during wars and how they try to gain all they can while showing total indifference to society by suppressing voices of dissent. It was a thriller, which kept the audience on the edge of their seats and displayed some hard hitting performances.