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A Brilliant Sitar Performance

Wednesday, January 31, 2018
By Amarendra Dhaneshwar

'Halim Academy of Sitar' was set up by the sitar maestro the late Ustad Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan who strode the music scene like a colossus in the post independence era. He was rated together with maestros like Ravi Shankar and Vilayat Khan. His unique style of sitar playing was extremely attractive and had a romantic flavour. Hardly a wonder that the composers like Naushad, Madan Mohan, C. Ramchandra, Shankar Jaikishen roped him in for the background score of the films. Halim Jaffer Khan passed away last year at the ripe of age of 89. His worthy son Zunain Khan has been carrying forward the rich legacy of the father/teacher in an exemplary manner.

'Khiraj', a musical tribute to the maestro was a program held this week at the St. Andhrew's Auditorium, Bandra (W). This auditorium does not normally have Hindustani music programs. So it was wonderful to have good and quality music at this venue after a long time. Zunain Khan played the raga 'Rageshri' as his special offering of the evening. This raga with shuddha G has a special character. It does not have the touch of melancholy which 'Bageshri' has. Zunain Khan had correctly judged the mood of the raga and the audience. His 'alap' and 'jod' section had a rare lively touch. The rapid phrases were very smoothly delivered. He had a master tabla player like Aneesh Pradhan as his accompanist. Pradhan is one of the most well equipped tabla players. It was evident in this program as he played his outstandingly brilliant strokes as answer to Zunanin's sitar as well as vocalist Shubha Mudgal's 'thumri' passages.

'Allah Hi Bada Sai', the bada khyal in the raga 'Shudh Kalyan' is an inward looking yet uplifting Sufi composition. Shubha Mudgal sang it with engaging dedication and devotion. The 'meends' encompassing m from 'P' to 'G' and 'upper S' to 'middle P' were tender and gentle. Shubha Mudgal also sang a composition in the seasonal raga 'Basant' which was an apt choice. She concluded with a 'thumri' whose appeal and impact was enhanced by the excellent harmonium by Sudhir Nayak and tabla laggi passages by Aneesh Pradhan.

The music community was happy to receive the news of Padma awards declared by the Government of India. Ghulam Mustafa Khan was selected for Padma Vibhushan, Arvind Parikh for Padma Bhushan and Kaushiki Chakraborty for Padma Shri – a rare honour at a young age.

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