Through the corridors of mellisonant sounds, Pandit Jasraj’s voice reverberates stalwartness of the most legendary kind. His passion is seen vividly in the way he has preserved the Mewati Hindustani classical music tradition, asseverating the sanctity of this school of music. The upcoming Delhi Classical Music Festival will once again, see the living legend work up a musical whirlwind true to character.
The festival has been organised by Sahitya Kala Parishad, Department of Art, Culture and Languages, Government of Delhi. Put together to promote traditions of Hindustani music, it will see sitarist Shujaat Khan, along with Nitin Sharma from the Kirana gharana.
Setting his hands on the swarmandal, he looks up attentively, shuts his eyes and begins to sing. His gyakai comes is infused with a spontaneous mix of ragas that are undefined by space or time. “Perfect diction, clarity in sur, extreme tunefulness, command over laya, the right choice of composition, and an interplay of notes, are some of the things I’ve been religiously following. To be a successful vocalist, all these are a must,” says Pandit Jasraj.
At age 6, he heard the song Deewana Banana hai to Deewana Bana De by Begum Akhtar. Things changed then on and he fell at the steps of learning immediately. After the initial introduction to vocals, he started learning the tabla. “That was a decision taken to shoulder family responsibilities to earn a living after the sudden demise of my father. However, at the age of 14, I rebelled against the way accompanying artistes were treated. I promised myself to never let their plight be mine. I would become a full-fledged vocalist, I told myself,” he says.
Pandit Jasraj has been mentoring students in continuity with the guru–shishya parampara without charging any fee. His music has both entertained and healed. He once visited a hospital to sing to a body suffering with cancer. He sang Raag Darbari before which he sang a Durga Sholka and Raag Bharavi. After 40 minutes, the effect of music was seen in the boy’s disposition, making him jovial again.
Based on his principles, schools of Indian classical music are running in USA, Canada, West Indies and India. “Classical music has moved beyond cities, states and countries. The fact that it’s performed all over the world, exemplifies how it is still alive. Any art which is alive is subject to change and change is life,” he says, ending our little chat with food for thought.
October 29, at 6.30 pm, Kamani Auditorium, Copernicus Marg, Mandi House.