The ‘dream stage’ for all classical Indian musicians has opened its doors to around 10,000 music lovers. The sixty-fifth Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav saw debutants as well as veteran musicians play their divine tunes in the memory of late maestro Bhimsen Joshi.
The inaugural performance was given by shehnai player, Madhukar Dhumal, who played Raag Bhimpalasi and Pahadi Dhun. This performance was followed by Dr Vijay Rajput’s melodious vocals. He started with Raag Puriya Kalyan. The vocalist was also a student of Bhimsen Joshi. His performance ended with a bhajan, ‘Raghuvar tumko meri laaj’.
“This really is a dream stage for all classical Indian musicians. I now teach in Newcastle but the guru-shishya relationship that is shared in India is very different from what is practiced abroad. Guruji was a very kind but a strict teacher. I remember a time when I came 10 minutes late and that angered him. He told me to never be late again. This is my first time performing at the Sawai festival. I dedicated my performance to him,” said Dr Rajput.
Debashish Bhattacharya performed the chaturangi, a slide guitar instrument with 24 strings. He too is a debutant performer. “I lived in a village and I never had electricity at home. We had one transistor and Pandit Bhimsen Joshi’s tunes were playing. I didn’t know who it was, and I asked my father, he told me that it was the sound of god.”
Speaking to Pune365, he further adds that his first time playing at the festival was an amazing experience. “I have been playing since the age of 15. It has truly been a privilege to do what I’m doing. I have met Pandit Joshi many times. I have even performed in front of him. Today, I see so many people interested in learning this instrument. It’s great!”
Rajan Mishra and Sajan Mishra, a vocalist duo performed Raag Puriya which was followed by their duet in ‘Vilambit Ektal’. Later, they sang ‘Main toh kari aayi piya sang rang raliya’, in ‘Trital’. This was followed by a ‘Rachna’ in Raag Sohini and concluded with a bhajan, ‘Jagat mein jhuti dekhi preet’.
The festival also saw the inauguration of a calendar which includes Hariprasad Chaurasia and Shivkumar Sharma’s photographs while performing. These have been photographed by Sateesh Paknikar. The calendar was launched by flute maestro Hariprasad Chaurasia, who later gave the concluding performance of the first day.
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