Friday, Aug 08, 2003
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By Our Special Correspondent
Ustad Bismillah Khan and his adopted daughter, Soma Ghosh, performing a `jugalbandi' concert `Ras Barse' (Harmony through music) at the Parliament House library building in New Delhi on Thursday.
Though advancing age and failing health forced the Ustad to cut short his concert, the 45 minutes he held forth saw MPs yield to his music almost as if he were the Pied Piper. And, so when he signed off -- rather abruptly pleading fatigue -- the normally hard-to-please MPs gave in without as much as a whimper of a demand for an encore.
If his music was enthralling, his deameanour was no less. If anything, his simplicity vied with his music. Not one to be taken in by the political heavyweights in the gathering, the Bharat Ratna also did some plainspeaking when he urged the powers that be to give musicians like him programmes.
The President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the Lok Sabha Speaker, ManoharJoshi, the Leader of the Opposition, Sonia Gandhi, the CPI(M) leader, Somnath Chatterjee, and the Finance Minister, Jaswant Singh at the concert. Photo: Rajeev Bhatt
And, though he himself had wanted to perform in the temple of Indian democracy, the Ustad was candid in admitting that Delhi with all its trappings of power was no match to his temple town of Benares.
Calling the shots all the way, the maestro decided the course of the evening which began a bit behind schedule, and minus the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, and the Deputy Prime Minister, L. K. Advani. The recital got underway soon after the arrival of the President, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, and the usual round of shawl-draping and bouquet presentations.
A surprise addition to the programme organised by the Lok Sabha Secretariat and presented by Madhu Murchhana, and sponsored by Gas Authority of India Limited, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, and Indian Airlines (all three of which boldly displayed their involvement on the banner presenting the backdrop for the concert) was a special Shiv Sena mention. When the Shiv Sena leader in the Lok Sabha, Chandrakant Khaire, was called in to present a check of Rs. 2 lakhs on behalf of his party supremo, Bal Thackeray, and another one of Rs. 1 lakh from Sena MPs, many in the audience were caught unawares.
But all was forgotten as soon as the maestro picked up his shehnai. Beginning with `Ras Barse' -- a Benarasi jugalbandi with Rag Yaman -- the maestro soon surrendered to the call of the season and offered a `kajri' as he had promised in his introductory remarks.
And, then it was just him and his shehnai along with Dr. Ghosh recreating the mood of `sawan' (monsoon) in the sanitised environs of the Parliament Library Building.
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