02 March, 2010

Bleeding fingers and broken wrists

Its been over 2 months since I last wrote anything on my blog page. Yesterday was Holi and I enjoyed a great celebration with Saskia and our beautiful son, Ishaan. Many wonderful things have taken place recently--my duet concert with my GuruBhai, Sarod player Partho Sarathy in Coimbatore. We were playing together after almost 10yrs but it seemed that there was never any gap at all. We played together quite often in the nineties but have gone our own individual ways the past few years. I am happy to see how well Partho Bhai is doing for himself. We were accompanied by the father-son duo of Pandit Anindo Chatterjee and his son, Anubrata Chatterjee on the Tabla and it was wonderful to play with someone as accomplished as Anindo da.

The other few good things that have happened recently are the international tours Saskia and I will be doing later this year and early 2011. In July/August, we have been invited by the prestigious Edinburgh Festival. After this, my adventures with my great friend Ty Burhoe and our month long tour of Japan. October is the month when Delhi will be hosting the Commonwealth games and I am happy that we will be touring South Africa during that period. Who wants to be caught in all the traffic jams?!!! But the biggest confirmation we have had is the concert at the Kennedy Center, Washington DC in March 2011. The Kennedy Center is organizing a 3-week long India Festival and we are billed as "one of the highlights" of the festival. Really looking forward to it.

The other thought that came to me recently after witnessing one of the most amazing concerts is a question that I am sure is asked by many. What is it that drives an artiste to such heights that one can even forget physical pain and go on to a plane where nothing matters except being totally one with the art. I have had a few occasions when I have cut my finger during the concert and its bleeding but I am completely unaware of it till much later when I take a pause in between my Ragas or during the intermission. On 29th Feb, I saw this same passion when I witnessed the concert of the great Kathak dancer, Saswati Sen. The concert was organized at my Guru, Pandit Ravi Shankar's Centre and it was wonderful to see the 2 great giants, Guruji and Pandit Birju Maharaj ji sitting right in front and enjoying Saswati didi's concert. Towards the end of her first item in Dhamar Taal, to everyone's horror, she fell down badly during her last Tihai. The whole audience was dumb-struck and a few people rushed on to the stage to help her. In just a few seconds, she was on her feet and apologized to the entire audience, continuing where she had let off as if nothing happened. I was sitting with Anoushka and we were counting the number of chakkars that she wanted to take and looked on breathlessly. To our great delight, Saswati didi not only finished the Dhamar without any more hurdles but went on to dance for over an hour after her fall. She even invited her guru, Pandit Birju Maharaj ji to sing the memorable Thumri that he had specially composed and as a concluding item, he even played the Tabla to the delight of a houseful audience. The full moon was a witness to this wonderful evening. Only next morning did I learn when I called Saswati didi that she had fractured her wrist when she fell down. Despite the pain, she did not stop even to take a breadth.

Its not money that drives passionate artistes to overcome bleeding fingers or fractured wrists but the deep desire to perform in front of an august audience and share all the years of hard work and practice with the audience. The need for recognition and respect is greater than the lure of the money and when I saw that same passion in Saswati didi's concert that evening, I was moved to tears. Thank you Saswati didi for re-kindling that feeling in me.