well at the CIEFL, with two-storyed corridors surrounded by thick, wild vegetation,
had become a dump yard for many years. Until it was discovered (so to speak) and
spruced up, so that the unique stairs down the still waters and the arched Deccani
verandahs were fit again to host the best of the cultural razzmatazz. Now the
Hyderabadi music lovers flock to it in earnest, anxious for the evening to dawn
and looking expectantly at the facing arch to be occupied by the music maestros
of our time.
Indeed, amidst the crowded cultural calendar of our city, there are but few events
that are eagerly looked forward to. "Pandit Motilal and Pandit Maniram Sangeet
Samaroh", instituted by Pandit Jasraj over three decades ago, has been the sole
regular event that caters to those who devour upon the lilting Hindustani melodies
staged by ace artistes of the country. And this year Pandit Jasraj himself appeared
along with a host of his disciples. Presenting a day-upon-day account.
30 November, Day 1
This was the day of the Guru himself. He started off with his favorite compositions
from 'Guru'. With much reverence, the music is attributed to the 'guru', and draws
parallels with the Almighty.
The ever so earnest Mohe Lage Lagan Guru Charan Lagi and Guruva Jane
Nisi Din Rahiyo set the mood for the remainder of the concert that extended
till the wee hours of Friday. However, the melodies were often interrupted by
elaborate eulogizing comments by the coordinator, Sunita Bhodiraja, who often
introduced the music and musicians to the audience and sought to symbolize the
music and the performers with Nature. This was something of a drag, and made some
restless. Music and Nature, and artists and their acts, have to be felt and valued;
verbose descriptions of the same can mar the picture. But patience, for once,
seemed to be in abundance.
For the enduring audience, a young Santoor player, Satish Vyas, and Tabla player,
Vijay Ghate, elaborated the Hamsadhwani raag with the twinkling sounds
of the 100-stringed Santoor, and the base rhythms of Tabla. Guru Jasraj, along
with his daughter Durga Jasraj, and disciples Suman, Trupti, Pritam, Chandra and
Niraj, again took over the stage in the post-interval show with rag Marubehag.
Na Ja Baabul Ke Des… illustrated the pains of separation.
Jasraj's exercising his vocal chords with veritable variations, optimizing the
emotional appeal of the music, created just the impact that the crowd expected
of him. One wished that we could have him in the city more often.
1 December, Day 2
The festival had on its second evening some of the brilliant performers of
the country like Niraj Parikh, Ronu Mujumdar, Pt.Bhavanishankar and Vijay Ghate.
The evening of music and rhythms dawned with Niraj occupying the central arch
of the amphitheater to render his songs of glory. This prime disciple of Pandit
Jasraj Niraj explored the 'Bhajan Sampradai' in Hindustani classical music. Bhajan
with its Bhakti cult pleases one and all and creates a genial atmosphere. Niraj's
voice had that religious fervor and perseverance apt for singing Bhajans.
A breezy flute recital by Ronu Majumdar engulfed the audience and also the surroundings
with its mesmeric husky resonance. The classical melodies that he chose or the
compositions that he rendered did not matter; what did was an hour of 'musical
transportation' for the audience.
In sharp contrast was a percussion jugalbandi that almost got the audience onto
their toes, torn away from the blissful slumber of listening to the wind-blown
instrument. This energizing and stunning experience had Pakhawaj artist Pandit
Bhavanishanker and Tabla player Vijay Ghate dancing their fingers on the percussion
producing pure classical rhythms in varied times cycles and sequences. These cadences
at once seemed to sing a song and have a sportive dialogue, all in quite an abstract
On the whole, the entire evening displayed different aesthetics and creations
of Hindustani music.
2 December, Day 3
A ten-year-old Iswari, granddaughter of Pandit Jasraj, takes the mike, and with
her husky-sweet voice religiously renders the guru vandana before elaborating
the 'aalap' in Behag. Her shivering octaves soon smoothen up creating a symmetric
lilt that gradually grows in intensity, culminating with the song Sab Sakhiya
Chalo Prabhu Ke Darshan. The little girl then runs to embrace her 'Dadu' - Jasraj
- even as the audience continues its ovations! And the evening air at the 'well'
once again takes to its compelling hue, on the third day of Surmandali's festival.
Gargi Siddhanth from Assam, another disciple of Jasraj, followed with her seasoned
singing. Holding a Tanpura in one hand with another hand rising and waving in
the air as though tying in with her song, and with her eyes closed, she made a
perfect picture of an austere vocalist. With Shyam Murari Banvari and Mrig Nayani
Rasiyaan, Gargi created the ambience of the classical Rajasthani glory of music
The much-awaited Bharatanatyam recital by Shobana kept the audience delighted
throughout, thanks to her choosing a lively repertoire. The dancer performed a
Varnam composed by violin maestro Lalgudi Jairam. Here Shobana, with brilliant
choreography, enacted a devotee, illustrating the sagas Narasimha, Sudhama and
Vamana. Each strip was framed up with clear cult stances and gestures. A unique
improvisation was that of the support of Veena artist Rajesh, who followed every
movement, gesture and expression of the dancer, enhancing her dramatization.
Nee Maatalu Yemaayenu Raa, a swift Javali, showed the dancer in a sportive spirit,
where she, as a heroine, spurns her lover for not keeping the promise of gifts.
A lullaby set to a pleasant Neelambari raga has surprising intermittent pieces
where mother Yashoda, putting her little Krishna to sleep, narrates excerpts from
the Ramayana. Other good parts were an intensifying narrative of Ahalya's relieve
from the curse, and the melodramatic 'Sita Swayamvaram' in a humorous accent where
the dancer shows many a boastful men, and their efforts going in vain!
The evening was sealed late in the night with yet another pleasant vocal concert
by Prabhakar Karekar.
3 December, Day 4
The grand finale of the annual Hindustani music festival was on a chilly evening
that in no time warmed up with luminaries of vocal music performing, and numerous
music lovers flooding in to the 'well'. The noted Pritam Bhattacharjee rendered
a repertoire of deep-throated base melodies. The ragas rose to spirituality and
wove the classic compositions into emotive matrices.
The Sitar player Pratik Chowdury's performance that followed was in contrast,
with its streaming music of strings. These traditional classical ragas with waves
like stretches, movements and ups and downs -'mandra sthai' and 'tara sthai' -
in all their intricate symmetric patterns, seemed delightfully charming and contemporary.
Tripti Mukherjee's vocal recital that followed also had those peak extends and
a poignancy. And for fans of Anup Jalota, he appeared at the arched stage almost
like a frenzied devotee - and festoons of bhajans flowed, with the audience swinging
to the revered tunes. Along with a host of co-performers like Kedar Pundit, Vijay
Ghate, Nitin Mitta, Surendra Bharathi and Mukund Petkar, he rendered a number
of bhajans. Many verses by Meerabai, Tulasi Das, Kabir and Surdas were recapitulated,
while the essence of it all remained the 'Bhakthi' aspect and the philosophy of
life, often referring to the preaching of Krishna.