Celebrating the Dagar legacy

Touching souls: Ustad Wasifuddin Dagar

Touching souls: Ustad Wasifuddin Dagar   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

Ustad Wasifuddin Dagar was at his emotional best at a concert organised in the memory of his guru Ustad Nasir Zahiruddin Dagar

Ustad Nasir Zahiruddin Dagar, elder of the Dagar Brothers duo, passed away 25 years ago. Since then, nephew Ustad Wasifuddin Dagar has sung alone. In memory of his beloved Taya Guru (Bama ji to his family), Wasifuddin has been holding a memorial concert every year.

This year, the memorial started with a beautiful 1973 black and white film showing the brothers in concert, accompanied by the legendary pakhawaj player Pt Gopal Das.

Many young listeners in the audience would not have had the privilege of listening to the Dagar Brothers so this film was particularly relevant. Their soothing soft style of singing, the two voices merging as one was a real delight – the Ahir Bhairav aalap particularly impressive.

The film was produced by Virendra Kumar Jain, a renowned collector and music connoisseur. He had put this film together with a compilation of private concerts at his home. The footage of the recitals was interspersed with beautiful shots of paintings of Lord Shiva and Devi.

Dr Rinku Lamba, a professor of Political Science at JNU, has been learning from Ustad Wasifuddin Dagar for 10 years. Her recital was admirable. Her robust voice, not moulded in the peculiar voice production of the Dagar singers was pleasant.

Her portrayal of Raga Kamboji was faultless. The Dagars have had a tradition of presenting ragas from the Carnatic pantheon; Kamboji is one such Raga. Perhaps Dr Lamba’s recital could have been shortened by 15 minutes; but one admired her exact control in delivering a perfectly timed concert of 45 minutes. Pt Mohan Shyam of the Mathura pakhawaj tradition accompanied her on the pakhawaj.

Her “chautaal” (12 beat cycle) composition was by the great Krishna bhakt Ras Khan “Manush hoon to vahi”. It was wonderful to see the passing on of the music to the next generation.

Ustad Wasifuddin Dagar, despite a problematic throat, was at his mellow best. He presented a masterly rendition of raga Jaijaiwanti. He did not need to repeatedly forcefully show the “uttra Ga” to establish the raga.

His aalap was beautiful as always, the notes touched upon with delicacy, the pauses between them significant. His specialty is the “gamak” he does so effortlessly; the control on his voice is amazing. His composition dedicated to Lord Krishna “muraliya kaise baaje” was in “chautaal” The wonderful masterly accompaniment by Pt Mohan Shyam Sharma really added to the recital; his creativity matching the Ustad’s.

The concluding raga was Bairagi Bhairav – Ustad Wasifuddin ignored the time theory of rendering ragas, as his sister in the audience specially requested this piece. (Bairagi Bhairav is a morning Raga).The poignancy of the raga was heightened by the lyrics “ye kaisee peera na jaani”, perhaps alluding to the pain of the loss of his guru.

Magic of the moment

Certainly it was one of the Ustad’s most emotional recitals – there was a stunned silence, even the ceasing of the tambura drone did not dispel the magic of the moment and it was only when the Ustad folded his hands slowly that the audience clapped; emphatically and repeatedly.

There were many a moist eye in the audience. Kudos to Ustad Wasifuddin Dagar for meticulously honouring both his Gurus year after year in the memorial concerts he holds so lovingly.

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Printable version | May 24, 2020 1:10:17 AM |

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