Sangeet Natak Akademi Award winner Baha’ud-Din Dagar on the revival of interest in the Rudra veena

Baha’ud-Din Dagar (37) represents the 20th generation of an unbroken chain of musicians who have been at their sacred craft of Dhrupad without ever having to compromise on their music, preserving it in its purity. The family made great sacrifices to do that, say the various Dagars as well as accompanists like the pakhawaj player Mohan Shyam Sharma, who accompanied, at one time or the other, each of the seven Dagar brothers in their performances. It’s a different matter that only one of the seven brothers remains.

Recently honoured with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for his contribution, the Rudra veena player speaks on what the Awards means and things that affect his music. Excerpts:

What does it feel like to have the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award conferred on you?

Nice, but it’s encouragement for the Rudra veena and not for me! There is an added responsibility on me. A lot remains to be done.

Do you think that there is a revival of interest in the Rudra veena?

There is a revival; not due to me, but because of others. Music fans come to YouTube to see what is happening on the continuing journey of the Rudra veena and they stay on to see developments.

A commonly heard statement is that ‘classical music is declining’. Your comments?

I would say that in the last four to five years the classical market has improved with more recitals year round with better organisers rather than from September to March, which is the case traditionally!

Have you ever faced a situation, a crisis as it were, when you lost confidence in your playing abilities?

Many, many times, but it is a process of going through. Aadmi atakta hai (One does get stuck). Afterwards there is progress or going backwards. After sometime the problem passes like the phase of the moon. Patience is the key.

Any other matter that which affected you deeply?

My father’s death. All these things do affect one.

What does music give to society?

It is a proper art and has to be seen that way. It helps one relax but for a musician it is a path of happiness or sorrow. It is also a medium of expression.

Finally, Who, according to you, are the promising Rudra veena players of today?

Jyoti Hegde from near Hubli, Zyed Ali Khan, and, finally Zaki Ali Haider, who is late Asad Ali Khan’s nephew.