Tributes & Applause
Day 4 of the Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav was the perfect mix of some astounding vocal performances, spectacular dance acts and a difficult-to-forget recital by sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan. Even if the lack of time initially made Shrinivas Joshi, son of late Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, announce that the maestro will only be able to play for about half an hour, the festival was later extended by almost 30 minutes.
The humble person that he is, Khan said that even if he could perform at the festival for 10 minutes, he would consider it to be his good fortune. "This is for the first time that we are having this festival without Panditji's blessings. At such a time, even if I am able to pay homage to the great soul by performing for 10 minutes, I will consider myself lucky," said he.
Khan mesmerised the audience by playing a wonderful composition in Raga Ganesh Kalyan. However, what made everyone sway to the notes of the santoor was his performance of Raga Kaafi which he ended by playing Rabindranath Tagore's 'Aekla cholo re'. A thunderous applause from the crowd followed.
The day also saw brilliant performances by Sudhir Rao's troupe Nritya Niketan, which brought almost all present close to tears. Their performances on Panditji's bhajans and abhangs like Saubhagyada Laxmi baramma and Majhe mahere pandhari touched hearts. Nirakar Sakar, a 45- minute kathak performance by danseuse Shama Bhate's group Nad Roop, had 12 dancers presenting a classical dance, woven around some of the best works of Panditji. Bhate undertook a study of over 200 hours of Panditji's music before composing the piece. During the performance, the troupe danced on Panditji's much loved bhajan, Baje Muraliya baje. This was followed by a bandish composed in Raga Darbari and a thumri in Raga Kafi – Piya Toh Manat Nahi. The music for the performance was put together by Narendra Bhide.