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Noted Kathak dancer stopped from performing to qawwali

Noted Sufi-Kathak dancer Manjari Chaturvedi performing.  

Noted Kathak exponent Manjari Chaturvedi was in for a shock when her performance with qawwali was stopped midway by officials of the Uttar Pradesh government during an official cultural programme at a Lucknow hotel on January 15.

“I was scheduled to give a 45-minute performance called Ishq Ke Rang (Colours of love) to recorded music at a three-day event where legislators were present. As it was recorded music, there was no way I could have crossed the time limit. When I was into my third segment, a qawwali, the music stopped. I thought there was a technical glitch. But three officials came in front of the stage and one of them said, ‘Yahan qawwali nahin chalegi’ (Qawwali will not be played here),” Ms. Chaturvedi told The Hindu.

The anchor, she said, announced the next performance.

“I took to the podium and said this was not what Lucknow was known for. It is a city where I grew up and imbibed the Ganga Jamuni tehzeeb,” narrated the artiste, known for popularising Sufi-Kathak, a blend of classical and Sufi tradition.

‘Plea unheard’

Ms. Chaturvedi said when she left the stage nobody came to assuage her. “My technicians later told me that they pleaded with the organisers that only two segments were left, but they didn’t listen to them.”

Before the qawwali, she said, she performed a Kathak piece on the love of Radha and Krishna, followed by a performance to a piece by Gauhar Jan, the first recorded artiste of India.

“The qawwali that I performed to was ‘Aisa Banna Sanwarna Mubarak Tumhe’, which was made popular by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. It is in shringar rasa and talks about the beauty of a woman. It has no religious overtones. The performance was intended to portray flavours of love through different mediums. Anyway, India is the birthplace of qawwali. If Sufi devotional music is not played here, who will patronise it? I have performed in 35 countries, have never come across such an experience,” she said.

On Friday, Ms. Chaturvedi said, she got a call from senior officials of the U.P. government who said that the behaviour of their colleagues was “not intended”. “They invited me to perform to a qawwali on U.P. Diwas on January 27 in front of the Chief Minister,” she said.

‘Damage control’

Describing it as “damage control” after the news spread in the media, Ms. Chaturvedi said she was ready to give the State government a chance to redeem its “insensitive behaviour”.

“As citizens and artistes, we should not fall for divisive forces and retain sanity in times when it seems hating the ‘other’ is easier than embracing him.”

Responding to Ms. Chaturvedi, a government spokesperson said: “The performance was cut short because of organisational compulsions and not because of any linguistic or religious bias.”

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2021 11:21:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/noted-kathak-dancer-stopped-from-performing-to-qawwali/article30589256.ece

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