Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Enchanted by the Bamboo Flute and its Devotee

The maestro of the bamboo flute, the magician with the hollow stick, one of the greatest flutists of the century Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia had an unbelievable connection with Odisha.
The Allahabad born UP boy took his first tutelage from Pt. Bholanath inspired by whom he shifted to flute. He had his first job in his late teens in AIR Cuttack, which brought him so close to Odisha and its culture.
When I agreed to volunteer for SPIC MACAY, I knew I will get chance to meet and interact with such artiste but never imagined such an evening.
In his heavenly Vrindavan Gurukul situated behind the Khandagiri hills, in a silent neighbourhood lived quite a few blessed souls who worshipped flute and were tutored by the greatest of teachers.
A special recital was arranged for Pandit Ji to interact with students and youth. SPIC MACAY in association with NALCO arranged event with just 200 students allowed. All SPIC MACAY Chapters were allotted few seats and IIT Bhubaneswar got 20 seats.
I knew this from a month ago and spread a word throughout the music enthusiasts and SPIC MACAY volunteers.
I got a bus arranged for the event. Arranging bus to go for a concert was a rare feat but I have done quiet a few firsts until now in IIT BBS.
But the juniors ditched again. I was expecting 15 and just 11 turned up. Facing the boulder of unexpected absence we started off to the special recital at Vrindavan Gurukul.
After couple of wrong turns and U-turns we reached the serene school of flute. The recital was outdoor in a lawn carved out like an Open Air Theatre. Accompanying Pandit ji on tabla was Shubanker Banerjee, and Pandit Ji had a senior student of his for support, an Israeli named Amosh.
Irony or tragedy of Indian cultural art forms evidently comes out in situations like this when foreigners are seen respecting and loving, mastering the art much more than its own citizens.
The maestro kissed his bamboo stick and a melody flowed out. It was raga Madhubani to start with. He was in a great mood and interacted with kids, asking them about music and rhythm.
It was a great treat to watch him play a melody on flute and quickly a kid from SAI International School recognizing the raga to be Hamsadhwani. Pandit Ji was in jovial mood of all and wanted to interact more and more with the kids. He asked someone to volunteer and a small Bengali girl jumped on and sang ‘Payoji Maine’ mesmerizing even Pandit Ji.
A young lad from XIMB sang an alap and left the crowd gaping with the harmonics of his voice.
Pandit Ji was happily interacting and answering questions as he talked in length about bamboo sticks used for making flute and the stories of people offering him golden flute to play.
He talked about the current Bollywood and cinematic music trends; the embarrassing times when his students ask him to teach them ‘Lungi Dance’ for parties.
The evening ended with Krishna Karthik, our General Secretary So-cult asking Pandit Ji for a final rendering of Khamaj raga on flute. He serenaded with the music disseminating in the ambient air.
There were very few people so we had all time to meet him and get clicked with him. Babita Mam of SPIC MACAY had a chat with me and gave me some souvenirs to give to Pandit Ji and Shubhankar Sir. We all went later and got clicked in leisure, and also had a free chat with the maestro himself.
It was experience of a lifetime to be standing with such a renowned talent, a self-made man, one of the greatest flutist of his times. It was an evening to remember forever.           

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