Like the protagonist of his solo play on Swami Vivekananda, singer-actor Shekhar Sen won the hearts of one and all.
The life and vision of the man divine, Swami Vivekananda was presented by Impresario India in an incredible musical play written, composed and enacted by the renowned actor-singer Shekhar Sen from Mumbai at Kamani auditorium this past week. The outstanding performance of this gifted artiste encompassed the life of the patriot saint whose vision of shared spirituality and eloquent message at the World Parliament of Religions at Chicago conquered the hearts of people from across the world. Disclosing the making of this dynamic saint, the two-hour long riveting play unfolds the stories of his childhood, the impact of the Brahmo-Samaj on him, his eagerness to find God and meeting his revered mentor Ramakrishna Paramhamsa, his unforgettable Chicago speech, and so on.
A talented singer, composer, lyricist and actor, Sen left the audience awestruck, debating whether he was a better singer or actor, after his spellbinding performance as Vivekananda. With a solid background provided by his initial training in classical music from an early age under his parents Anita and Arun Kumar Sen, both renowned vocalists of the Gwaliar gharana, Shekhar later established his distinct identity by singing poetry of the medieval poets. He has done more than 1500 shows across the world. With 190 cassettes and CDs to his credit, he has also sung for the record-breaking serial “Ramayana”. After the resounding success of his musical mono-acts on Goswami Tulsidas and Kabeer, “Vivekananda” represents yet another milestone for this gem of an artiste.
The thoughtfully conceived solo play “Vivekananda” comes alive with moving dialogues and melodious music offering a rich variety from simple traditional folk tunes to classical to Bangla geet , along with the authentic khol and manjira accompaniment.
The Meera bhajan “Daras bin dookhan laage nain” based on raga Hamsadhwani conveys Naren's poignant yearning to see God. The first song he sings for Swami Ramakrishna is a Bangla song in raga Desh with the folk fragrance of Bengal. “Nirgun Nirakar” in raga Jog set to drut Ek tala offer a comely contrast next. When asked by his mentor to sing “pukka gaana” (classical music), he impresses with an impeccable Bhairavi bandish “Maa Kaalika” set to drut Teen tala.
If “Prabhu mere avagun chit na dharo”, composed in Chandrakauns and sung by the tawaif in the court of Khetri Maharaja, has all the pathos to evoke Vivekananda's remorse and compassion, the dhrupad in raga Darbari, “Har Har Mahadeva” is the ideal composition to be sung as an invocation to Lord Shiva at Amarnath.
The delightfully difficult syncopation in “Tahi aheer ki chhoharia, chhachhiya bhar chhachh pen ach nachavai” showcased Sen's immaculate command over the rhythmic aspect as well. The concluding Bhairavi bhajan “Itana to karna Swami jab pran tan se nikale” gave the intimation of Swami Vivekananda's nirvikalpak samadhi.
Impresario India deserves kudos for bringing this outstanding presentation to the art loving audience of the Capital.