Swami Haridas Tansen Sangeet Nritya Mahotsav is one of the most celebrated classical music and dance concerts promoting the cause of these art forms. It is a constellation of stars from the field of Dhrupadi music and dance that perform at this festival to overflowing houses. The venue as always is Modern School, Barakhamba Road, New Delhi. The event is being held now (11-14 January 2018) and there is no entry fee.
We try to attend this concert atleast one of the evenings. Kathak exponent Uma Sharma’s dance school organises the Swami Haridas Tansen Sangeet Nritya Mahotsav and she was performing last evening on 11th January, i.e., last evening. The veteran flautist – who else – Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia and the rising star in Dhrupadi vocal Kaushiki Chakraborty were also to perform. We wanted to experience all three of the artists so we chose evening 1. When we reached the venue, first parking and next finding any seat was a huge impediment. Nonetheless after some pushing and shoving and negotiations, we managed a few inches on the steps of the gallery.
By this time, Uma Sharma was up on stage and regaling the audience with her art humorous lines. Although senior in age, and may be a little prohibited by that, she made up through her spirit. She had her senior disciples supporting her in a demonstrative number when she spoke the bols. Like many other senior performers, she was rebuking her ensemble and accompanying musicians if there was a note or tune that she did not like. And towards the end, she performed certain short pieces from Radha Krishna Lila. She completely mesmerised the audience while enacting Radha and we all forget her age during these pieces. That is a maestro we say – no matter what you do – what your interests are – these master artists keep you spell bound through sheer authority.
Kaushiki Chakraborty next came on stage. After the routine welcoming – we wish this part is shortened because it was already very late by then – the artist started singing Raag Shyam Kalyan. Her performance went on for more than an hour and she sang various expansions and modulation of the raag. One could see that Kaushiki was very skilled in her art. The element that she needs to work on is engagement. Somehow her performance could not break the glass ceiling of rigid grammar and failed to touch the heart.
Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia was the show stopper this evening. No wonder, when he picked the flute, it was as if time stopped in the auditorium. The audience – from the nostalgic elderly to the sprightly kids – listened in rapt attention as Panditji played. His humility, his clear diction and warm interaction with the audience made one humbled in front of the maestro. For many, this was an evening of a life time that one would think back fondly in future.
Swami Haridas Tansen Sangeet Nritya Mahotsav is on for next two days and you get details in our listing section – it is definitely an experience.