Delhi boy braves fractured toe, travels by train to open Sawai fest

Doctors had prescribed six weeks' rest to Bhaskar Nath, 15, last Monday when his toe was fractured after an iron table fell on his leg while playing in his school. The Delhi Public School boy, also a shehnai prodigy, ignored the advice and travelled by train to Pune, that too without reservation owing to which he had to squat on luggage.

His efforts bore fruits on Thursday when his performance drew a thunderous applause at the Sawai Gandharva Music Festival. Nath, a class X student, knew that the chance to open the festival was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Shehnai has been a family legacy for Nath as his uncle, the late Pt Jagannath, was a renowned Shehnai player. "The music tradition has been there in our family for some 250 years."

He had begun his musical journey by accompanying his father and classical singer Pt Vishwanath on harmonium when he was only eight. He then learnt flute. "I performed flute at the Meerut Festival in 2005. I shifted to Shehnai later. My uncle taught me for a while. Now, I am learning classical music from Pt Jasraj."

His uncle Ram Nath, mother K Rajlaxmi and sister Aditi attended his performance on Thursday. Rajlaxmi, a manager with State Bank of India, said she was more happy to see the reaction of audience than her son's performance. "I was a little worried, as he had fractured his toe. But he was determined to perform and he did his best... This year in March, we had visited Pt Bhimsen Joshi's place to seek his blessings. Bhaskar performed at his house and Panditji gave his blessings. In October, he received the invitation to perform in Sawai Festival."

Nath says he wants to become an IAS officer. Interestingly, science and mathematics are his favourite subjects and he loves exploring new things on his personal computer. "I start my day at 5 am, go to school at 6.10 am, comes back around 2 pm and then start my riyaz, which at times lasts till night." He played Raag Multani and a tune in Mishra Pilu on Thursday. Kirana gharana singer Sudhakar Chavan sang raag Madhuvanti next. Bhuvnesh Komkali, grandson of late Pt Kumar Gandharva, also performed. Pt Hariprasad Chaurasia and Begum Parveen Sultana were to perform later. Earlier, as per tradition, audience paid tributes to artistes who passed away in the year.

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