The programme organized by Sangeet Ashram at the G.D. Birla Sabhaghar on November 17 was long awaited. After a long time, Calcutta got a rare opportunity to enjoy a performance by Ustad Rais Khan, who now lives in Pakistan and appears for stage performances occasionally. Rais Khan, who is the nephew of the famous sitar maestro, Ustad Vilayat Khan, plays the Gandhar Pancham sitar which was specially designed by his maternal uncle. Rais Khan’s musical style is greatly influenced by Vilayat Khan. He is famous for the gayaki ang style of playing. On this special evening he started his performance with the Raga Sundar Kalyan.
The audience’s expectations were naturally high, as Rais Khan traces his musical lineage to the Mewati gharana. He did not disappoint his listeners. Although his alaap took a little time to set the proper ambience for the beautiful evening raga, his listeners soon understood why he is called the master of the gayaki ang playing style. The audience was attracted to Rais Khan’s unique style of rendering the key notes. He especially used kadi madhyam and dhaibat in a completely different way.
Rais Khan also spent a good amount of time on a particular octave to create the magic of this feel-good raga. However, he ended his alaap abruptly, did not give much attention to the jod and shifted his focus to the presentation of gat.
Rais Khan played two compositions with great care. The way in which he touched the notes were excellent. His vistaars spread over three octaves. His unusual note movements and complicated taans were appreciated. His performance was also ornamented by sudden sparks of meer, which enthralled the audience. During the performance, the listeners literally felt the flow of a vocal recital; sometimes it was like a kheyal, sometimes like a thumri.
Rais Khan’s son, Farhan Khan, assisted his father with ease and perfection. Pandit Shubhankar Bandyopadhyay’s tabla accompaniment was quite captivating. Although the audience expected Rais Khan to perform a few more ragas, the artist concluded his elaborate presentation of the Raga Sundar Kalyan with a dhun, which was very enjoyable.