Renowned Kathak dancer Pt Birju Maharaj was recently honoured with Ustad Chand Khan Lifetime Achievement award for taking forward the legacy of the Kalka-Bindadin Gharana of Lucknow and promoting the art form around the world.
Pt. Birju Maharaj
"This award is even more special to me because I have had the opportunity to listen to the music maestro and take his blessings. Since we all belong to the field of art, my father was friends with Khan saheb when he was in Delhi during 1944-45. So as a child, I used to go to Ustad Chand Khan sometimes and listen to him," Pandit Birju Maharaj told PTI in an interview.
The award was conferred on Pandit Maharaj during the two day Sangeet Martand Ustad Chand Khan Music festival here, which saw raga rendition by some stalwarts in Indian classical music like Ajoy Chakraborty, Rajan-Sajan Misra, Subha Mudgal and Ustad Iqbal Ahmed Khan.
Shubha Mudgal began her performance with raag Chhayanat and concluded with a semi-classical singing style popular in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, known as 'Hori.'
While Pt. Ajoy Chakraborty sang khayal and thumri form of Indian classical music, brother duo Rajan-Sajan Misra mesmerised the audience with Raga Jaijaiwanti and Hori.
"We all have given our lives to music and Indian classical art forms. It always feels good to hear classical music. If I get another life, I would love to dedicate even that one to Indian classical art," says Birju Maharaj who also has command over thumri, dadra, bhajan and ghazal styles of singing.
Head of the Sursagar Society of Dilli Gharana, Ustad Iqbal Khan also introduced his student, Vivek Kumar Prajapati during the second day of the music festival.
"All the 'shagirds' (disciples) of Khan saheb and Khan saheb himself selected me for the music festival. I was told about this five months in advance and accordingly Ustad saheb started preparing me for the final performance," says Prajapati.
Prajapati feels God has gifted him this unique talent since no one in his family is fond of music.
"Singing is God's gift to me. No one in my family background is a musician. When I was in class nine, my music teacher told me that I have a good voice and I must pursue singing and since 2011, I have been learning under Ustad Iqbal Khan," he says.
Prajapati, who has been learning music from past 10 years says that he is not interested in participating in any singing reality shows and would like to stick to classical music only.
"The khayal form of singing is a difficult one. Not everyone can easily grab the details of this style. So I want to take forward this form of singing. Many participate in singing reality shows but I am not into it and would prefer sticking to khayal style of music and teaching it to others.
And for that, I work as a music teacher at DAV school in Noida and also teach a couple of students at home," says the musician.
Prajapati is also pursuing M. Phil from the Faculty of Music and Fine Arts at Delhi University.
"It feels great when the young generation is drawn towards Indian classical music. Through Spic MacAY, even I go to some schools and colleges to promote Kathak and when we see young children interested in learning, it feels good," says Birju Maharaj.