Two-hour wait amply compensated

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By Meena Banerjee
  • Published 13.01.06

In the artistically decorated courtyard of the palatial residence of Babu Khelat Ghosh of Pathuriaghata, the second evening session of the 15th All Bengal Music Conference (January 4-7) kept its listeners waiting for nearly two hours. But Shujat Khan, with his charismatic warmth, sitar and melodious voice, swept them off their feet. Around 8 pm he began with a brief, lively and very melodic alap in Shyam Kalyan.

During the vilambit and drut teental gatkari he seemed to woo the raga with whispering soft heart-wrenching phrases, and, having achieved that, dominated the beauty with powerful taan-todas. The mukam-based phrase development, rhythmic variations and superbly crafted tihais received identical replies from Shubhankar Banerjee’s tabla. The reflective alap within the fast, velvety jhala laid the foundation of the Kabir bhajan that followed next in Khamaj and culminated in a Bhatiyali dhun made famous by his legendary father Ustad Vilayat Khan.

Except for renowned vocalist Pandit Ulhas Kashalkar, who was the final artiste of the concluding evening’s whole-night session, most of the participants were little known. Among them debutant sarod player Alam Khan, young half-American son of Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, showed maturity beyond his years. His alap, jod, slow and fast teental gatkaris in Kaushik Kanada, followed by a lilting Majh Khamaj, bore the stamp of his technical finesse.

After the sparkling sitar recital of Shujat Khan it was almost impossible to get set with Puria Kalyan in Kirana’s contemplative style. But another debutant Kumar Mardur’s high-pitched, honeyed voice started casting its spell slowly but steadily. Though the taans in barabar-ki-laya lacked precision, the clear akar, solid danas and malleability had the sheen of sincere devotion.

Vijay Koparkar’s deep, mellow voice too had its own charm. He presented Puria Dhanashri, Rageshri Kauns and a dadra. Both Kumar and Vijay selected compositions with beautiful lyrics. Milind Pote and Chaitanya Kunte accompanied almost all the vocalists on the tabla and harmonium respectively.

Sarod player Parthasarathy’s Jhinjhoti took a regal stance when, aided by Biplab Bhattacharya’s broad-faced tabla, he presented gatkari in chartal-ki-sawari, maintaining the character of the taal.