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On her own terms

There's more to Durga Jasraj than a famous father



Durga Jasraj: reinventing herself — Photo: K.V. Srinivasan

THE GOING can be often tough for children of celebrities, when they happen to choose the same profession. They are bound to be compared to their parents. Some learn the hard way and reinvent themselves, while the others keep trying. Durga Jasraj belongs to the first category.

Instead of falling into the trap, she has reinvented herself. By starting an entertainment company called Art and Artistes India Pvt. Ltd., which is into event management, TV software, and producing devotional albums, and promoting classical and fusion music in the process.

Her last show was Tiranga, an evening dedicated to the National Flag.

"This is the first show that our company is putting up in the city," says the ex-hostess of the TV show, Zee Antakshari.

Flag, a symbol

Why the National Flag? "I remember listening to a conversation between some youngsters, who had no clue about the real meaning of the colours of the Flag. It got me thinking. I felt the Flag is a symbol of what our nation stands for... it provides a common identity to one billion Indians. And it's time the next generation knew what each colour stands for," she says.

She has also made a documentary Utsav, a 26-episode series shot for STAR Plus, which focuses on Indian classical music. It's expected to be telecast in the U.K., U.S., and Australia. However, viewers in India may not get to see it!

What was it like directing her father, Pandit Jasraj? "Besides being my father, he's also my guru. But he gives me the creative freedom. Initially, I would be scared of telling him what to do, what I wanted of him. But after working together, for Utsav, the barrier broke and he understood my vision of things. Today, he takes pride in what I do, and that's very encouraging," she says with a smile. As for the other musicians, "I have known them all my life. So it was easy to relate to them." She adds, "One person who has been a great influence on me, besides my grandfather and father, is Zakir Hussain. When we were kids, I remember spending a lot of time with him, playing cricket or travelling. I share a great relationship with him."

Unconventional thinking

Talking of influences, Durga singles out her grandfather, the legendary film-maker V. Shantaram, as the man who put discipline into her life. "He was unconventional in his thinking and taught me to think just like him. I was very fond of him." She made her debut in acting and singing under his direction for a Marathi film.

After a stint with television, films, and modelling, Durga started Art and Artistes. The other event she holds close to her heart is the 13-hour non-stop classical concert, which was telecast live on Tara Bangla.

Model, actress, TV star and now event manager... what's the ride been like? "Life is full of ups and downs. You learn at every step and try to move on. I believe I am a special child. And I cherish everything I have. I am a deeply religious person and am drawn to Adi Sankara's teachings."

As for her future, producing a film may be the next frontier for Durga.

SAVITHA GAUTAM

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