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Mishras virtuous

KULDEEP KUMAR

While Mishra brothers sang soulfully, young sitarist Prateek Chaudhuri was unimpressive at the centenary celebrations of Ustad Mushtaq Ali Khan.



double whammy Rajan Misra and Sajan Misra at an earlier performance.

During the 1930s and 1940s, before Pandit Ravi Shankar and Ustad Vilayat Khan made their appearance on the music scene to bring about its complete transformation, Ustad Mushtaq Ali Khan was a dominant presence. Respected for his impeccable musical pedigree, he was also loved for his selfless ways. It was he who had arranged musical soirees for Ravi Shankar when the young sitar player was a new entrant in the world of music. While Ustad Mushtaq Ali Khan was a direct descendant of Nayak Dhondhu, a famous Dhrupad singer at the court of the Moghul Emperor Shahjahan, he was also connected with the Senia tradition as his father Ustad Ashiq Ali Khan was also a disciple of the legendary sitar player Ustad Barkatullah Khan who had learnt his art from Amrit Sen, grandson of Maseet Sen and a direct descendant of Miyan Tansen. Till he died, Mushtaq Ali Khan remained true to the Dhrupad tradition as well as to the been-ang playing of sitar in the typical Senia style. Since he did not budge an inch from the traditional style of playing, he gradually receded into the background while his young contemporaries Ravi Shankar and Vilayat Khan took the music world by storm by their daring innovations.

Ustad Mushtaq Ali Khan has a worthy student in Pandit Debu Chaudhuri who has done everything to commemorate the memory of his guru who passed away in 1989 at the age of 78 years. This Monday, he organised a two-day programme at the India Habitat Centre to launch the birth centenary celebrations of his guru under the aegis of Ustad Mushtaq Ali Khan Centre for Culture. The occasion was also used to confer the Lifetime Achievement Award on renowned Dhrupad exponent Ustad Rahim Fahimuddin Dagar who could not receive it in person owing to his indifferent health.

Perfect unison

Rajan Mishra and Sajan Mishra have perfected the art of jugalbandi and the brothers sing in such unison that they come to reside, as it were, in one single creative personality. The duo made an apt choice in beginning their recital with Maru Bihag, a most pleasing raga said to have been created by Ustad Alladiya Khan whose individualistic style of singing has come to be known as the Jaipur-Atrauli gayaki. As Kalyan forms the core of Maru Bihag, the judicious use of teevra madhyam and the characteristic phrases of Bihag went a long way in making this a successful recital. The Mishra brothers chose a slow ektaal bandish from their Banaras gharana repertoire “Paiyan Tore Laagi Rahoon Saiyan” and followed it up with two faster compositions “Raat Ke Alsaaye Piya Ghar Aaye” and “Saghan Ban Bole Koyaliya”.

They were in a good and expansive mood. Since it happened to be the 76th birthday of Debu Chaudhuri, they imparted the flavour of a mehfil to their singing and were informal in their approach. It was a soulful rendition that left the audience moved rather than dazzled. Rajan-Sajan Mishra concluded their recital with another pleasing and infrequently heard raga Champakali which does not use rishabh in its ascending part (aaroh) but uses all the notes in its descending section.

Continuing with their choice of Shringar as the flavour of the evening, they sang an evocative bandish “Sagari Rain Jaagat Beeti”, expressing the disappointment of the beloved who spent the entire night waiting for her lover. They were admirably accompanied by Akram Khan of the Ajrada gharana on tabla. Sumit Mishra provided support on harmonium.

As per the announced schedule, Debu Chaudhuri was supposed to present a sitar recital but as he was unable to play due to a minor accident, his son Prateek Chaudhuri took his place. He played Marwa, a rather late choice for that time of the evening, and paid more attention to displaying pyrotechnics than to bringing out the mood of the raga. Even the clichéd sawaal-jawaab found a prominent place in his performance. Marwa is a raga with khada (straight and unwavering) but not shrill notes. After offering a brief and formless alap, he played two gats in slow and fast tempo. His acrobatics drew thunderous applause from the audience but left the discerning listener unimpressed. Ustad Akram Khan, who accompanied him too on tabla, got ample opportunity to display his virtuosity.

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