On the shores of an ocean ...

বৃহস্পতিবার, ০৪ ডিসেম্বর ২০১৪

04 December 2014 Ustad Amjad Ali Khan stepped off the stage -- the world's biggest stage of classical music -- in a bit of an awe himself as a new day dawned on Army Stadium, and a familiar feeling of emptiness began to sink in. I paced around the stadium impatiently, unwilling to leave the arena where the air was still thick with the richest of melodies, enthralling rhythms and overwhelming emotions. The thousands in attendance that began to head out through the gates seemed reluctant too, in spite of many of them being sleepless for five nights in a row with working days in between.

I have always been overcome with wonder whenever I was at the seaside, and what I was feeling in those moments was strangely similar. For me, and for the tens of thousands (more than 55,000 of who were present on one night alone) that came and experienced the Bengal Classical Music Festival, it was like standing on the banks of a new kind of infinity. We do not know which one is Raga Khamaj and which one is Bhairavi, or that what is Malkauns in Hindustani is Hindolam in Carnatic; we do not know the difference between a jhaptaal and a teentaal, let alone the Carnatic ones like the Adi tala; and we cannot tell a vocal gamak from a murki. But we can feel the romanticism of Khamaj and the peace of Bhairavi, and be it Malkauns or Hindolam (as Pandit Tejendra Narayan Majumdar and Ganesh Rajagolapan blanketed an entire stadium with on the fourth night) it takes us to a place of self-reflection. Our feet stomp in different beats on jhaptaal and teentaal, and our heads and hands involuntarily groove differently for different alankarans (ornamentations). We do not know anything of classical music yet, and possibly feel the music very superficially, but it is starting to move us, and it is starting to stay inside of us.

On the closing day of the festival when an audiovisual of the behind-the-scenes of the festival was being shown, a sitar piece played in the background, and I instantly recognised it as Purbayan Chaterjee's Raga Jaijaivanti, though I hadn't heard it ever since that night he performed here a year ago. Minutes later, my heart leaped in joy as another melody that I did not realise was rooted deep inside of me played on that AV: of the Jhinjhoti recital by the iconic Pandit Shivkumar Sharma. Where were these melodies 'saved' in my memory and why did they give me such psychic jerks? I do not know.

Of the countless unforgettable moments from this year's festival, the ones that stand out are: Guru Karaikudi Mani and his quartet's breathtaking display of Carnatic percussion -- the roaring mridangam, powerhouse kanjira, resonating thalam and the astonishing ghatam -- that left some 40,000 people at a loss of words, Vidushi Malavika Sarukkai's riveting Bharatanatyam depiction of the Maricha Vadham, the jugalbandi of the sarod and violin by Tejen Majumdar and Ganesh Rajagopalan, Aman and Ayaan Ali Khan's marvel on the sarod, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia's flute captivating a packed-to-brim stadium at 5am, Vidushi Aruna Sairam's tribute to Kazi Nazrul Islam (and Kamol Dasgupta) with an exemplary rendition of "Amar Kalo Meye Raag Korechhe", the Pahadi dhun played by Pandit Shivkumar Sharma transcending the audience to a valley in Kashmir, Pandit Yogesh Samsi's controlled chaos, accompanying three soloists each on consecutive nights, and possibly most strikingly, the exit of one of the greatest luminaries of our times, Qayyum Chowdhury, with an unfinished sentenc hanging from the corner of his mouth, at the grandest festival of classical music -- something he deeply connected to.

Kaushiki Chakrabarty's thumri in Pilu kept ringing in my ears as I walked out: "Sajanwa Kab Aaoge, Main Kitthe Bitaun Din Saara?" -- these artistes, and their creations, had become our beloved in these five days. It was love that defined it better than anything else; not to be understood, not to be analysed in their technicalities, and not even knowing why -- but to be touched, and to be moved. Being on the shores of an ocean -- not trying to dive to its greatest depths or explore its furthest corners, but to be in awe of its vastness.

We don't do goodbyes. See you next year, Bengal Classical Music Festival.

সর্বশেষ আপডেট বুধবার, ৩০ নভেম্বর -১ ০৬:০০
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