Play it for the master

Jul 24, 2012, 11:30 IST | Surekha S

Seven years after his demise, musicians still remember Ustad Shafaat Ahmed Khan fondly and respectfully, as they converge to pay tribute to arguably one of the most prolific tabla players that India has produced

“In 1981, I first heard Shafatbhai (Ustad Shafaat Ahmed Khan) in performance. He had been called to accompany the living legend Birju Maharaj. I was mesmerised, when both of them commenced their recital. The two hours thereafter was sheer magic as was Shafatbhai’s simple, elegant and excellent artistic persona and skill. The evening created a thrilling resonance, which is seldom heard,” recalls Shashi Vyas, director of Pancham Nishad Creatives. Today, on the occasion of the Ustad’s seventh death anniversary, Pancham Nishad Creatives has brought together talented musicians to pay tribute to the tabla legend.

Ustad Shafaat Ahmed Khan

The first session of the concert will be a jugalbandi between tabla master Pandit Anindo Chatterjee and his son, Anubrata Chatterjee. Anindo Chatterjee was not just a contemporary of Shafaat Khan but also a very good friend. “We have performed at the same festivals on countless occasions. Back in the 1990s, Shafaat and I have performed together alongside Ustad Amjad Ali Khan. It was a great experience. Shafaat was one of the most talented musicians, we have had,” the Pandit maintains. “He was also a beautiful person, very friendly with a wonderful sense of humour. The entire concert will be a tribute to his soul. May be, we will play a few compositions that Shafaat loved to play as well,” adds the senior Chatterjee.

Pandit Anindo Chatterjee

For 28-year-old Anubrata Chatterjee, Shafaat Khan is someone of whom he has very fond memories of: “He was very popular, especially with the kids. I met him for the first time about 15 years ago, when he was in Kolkata for a performance. I visited him in the green room; he was so warm and friendly and I became friends with him, almost immediately,” reminisces Anubrata. As a student of tabla, Anubrata was also a big fan of Shafaat’s musical genius. “I was a fan of his tone and his relaxed approach to music,” he shares.

Anubrata Chatterjee

The concert will also witness a sitar recital by Niladri Kumar, who has also known Shafaat Khan since he was a kid. “He never considered us as juniors. For him, the music was more important,” states Kumar. “He was a light-hearted and fun-loving person. He was also very approachable. That nature of his translated on stage as well. I recall him telling us stories about senior musicians. He could be your dad’s friend and also your confidant,” believes Kumar, while recollecting the tabla genius.

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