Your musical stars will have to be perfectly aligned to witness Ustad Zakir Hussain, Pandit Birju Maharaj, Pandit Dr Ajoy Chakrabarty and Dr Trichy Sankaran perform on one stage for the first time in Mumbai. Kala Sangam, a musical charitable trust, has achieved this unthinkable feat.
Founded in 1973 in Kolkata (then Calcutta) by Bobby Sethi, along with Late Ustad Amir Khan, Kala Sangam has since then worked towards preservation of classical music not just in India but in Pakistan as well. Since 1982, Sethi has been organising yearly Music Summits in Mumbai. “Last year we had a sell out show and this year everyone asked how we were going to raise the bar. This is going to be one of our finest shows with extraordinary musical combinations,” says Sethi, who is also the managing trustee of Kala Sangam.
The show this year is the celebration of Pandit Birju Maharaj’s 75 glorious years in Kathak. Divided into two parts, the first performance will be by internationally-renowned mridangam maestro Dr Trichy Sankaran and his co-artists on the violin, ghatam and kanjira. “In the 60 years of my career, this is my first performance in India and for Kala Sangam. I will be playing some traditional compositions from the Palani style of mridangam and some of my own compositions too. But to top that I have something special planned for Birju Maharaj,” says Dr Sankaran, who has flown down from Canada for this event.
The second half of the programme will feature the inimitable ensemble of Ustad Zakir Hussain on tabla, Pandit Dr Ajoy Chakrabarty, the master of Patiala Kassor gharana and the Kathak sage Pandit Birju Maharaj himself. “The true definition of Sangeet with sur, taal and nritya coming together defines our tribandhi,” says Dr Chakrabarty.
Planned for the evening are compositions by Pandit Birju Maharaj and also by Pandit Bindadin Maharaj, Pandit Birju Maharaj’s great-granduncle. “The compositions of Pandit Bindadin Maharaj were a product of a spiritual trance that he went into when he danced. It is believed that all his compositions came from Lord Krishna himself,” explains Dr Chakrabarty.
After witnessing the recreation of the Awadh heritage of dance, the hour and a half segment will end with a special commemoration. “We have a finale ceremony where a pandit will perform Vedic chants to bless Birju Maharaj. We will also showcase the commemorative stamp that we have created for him,” signs off Bobby Sethi, the eternal music enthusiast.