… And the aisles were flooded too

A rare raga Ustad Rashid Khan  

There was no room – the seats were full, the aisles were full, the stage was occupied – thousands had gathered to listen to Ustad Rashid Khan, the musician of soulful brilliance. As always, the Ustad showed no sign of exhilaration or happiness at the huge turnout: he remained unperturbed. In fact, the only occasion when one sees the Ustad overwhelmed by emotion is when he begins to sing – the deeply reflective nature of his music is palpable.

Singing at the KK Murthy Music Festival at Chowdiah recently, the Ustad began the recital with raga Yaman, contrary to expectations. With repose he took up a vilambit ektaal bandish “Kaise ki bhariye” — it immediately took you back to his very first album in which the Ustad sang Yaman, and incidentally the same cheez. From then to now, his voice and expression has become more intense, while the ability to infuse rich feeling has remained intact. Shutting his eye to his surroundings, the Ustad gets immersed trying to uncover the meaning of the notes. Steadily, but slowly fathoming the unknown of the raga, as if he were trying Yaman for the first time, his music was a beautiful expression of the inner mysteries of music, which only penance can reveal. As he mapped out the raga without privileging either technical virtuosity or aesthetics, it glided from one idea to the other with a mesmerising seamlessness. The short gamak tans, juxtaposed with short swara phrases, and the long meend tans interlaced with longer phrases of swaras for the dhrut teentaal composition “Tu Jag Mein” seemed like spontaneous outbursts of magical luminosity, hardly pre-meditated. Ustad Rashid Khan’s voice acquires a special timbre and body when he moves to the higher octaves. As he sang yet another bandish “Aao Balma”, he brought in special inflections that gave the whole rendition his distinct touch. “Laagi Lagan” in Hamsadhwani set to Ada teentaal was bright and energetic, but one couldn’t help wondering why he chose the raga. Was it because it has been made popular by his album or did he underestimate the maturity of the listeners? For an audience that has been waiting to listening to the Ustad, delineation of a solid raga would have been a treat. However, that evening’s Hamsadhwani was not even a match to his earlier renditions of the raga.

His rendition of the dadra “Kya Jaadu Daala Deewana” in Keerwani made famous by the doyenne Girija Devi was lovely. The lilt, the poignant elongation of notes, and the many different variations of rendering a phrase were distinguished. The introspective quality of the presentation gave it the seriousness of a khayal. After a brief Hamsadhwani and Keervani, the concert ended with Bhairavi, also brief. In the limited exposition, he packed it with intricate layakari and lyricality.

The maestro’s favourite tabaliya Satyajit Talwalkar was at his best. Jyoti Goho on the harmonium was exceptional.

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Printable version | May 19, 2021 3:32:18 AM |

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