On 16th of September, I happened to hear a Hindustani Vocal Classical recital by Abhishruti Bezbaruah in Epicentre, Gurgaon. There are many first-timers about this concert and I will need to enlist them to make this expression of appreciation more intense. To put the whole experience in a nut-shell, I would say: after the concert, I was not able to put the feeling in words given that I am a writer. (!)
I was particularly attracted to this concert because of a peculiar reason. To be honest, I never heard about this artist and never expected that she would be so young but so pristinely talented in her control over voice. The reason that took me to the concert was the name of her Guru–the people she learnt music from: Rajan-Sajan Mishra. These maestros are one of my favorites in vocal classical though I have heard their concert only once. They visited our small town Nabha in Punjab in 2006 I guess and I was literally stunned by their mastery over vocal chords. More about this later…
The night was lively as lots of people who looked quite well-versed in music knowledge had reached the place. A lot of Assamese could be heard, which I sometimes confused with Bengali. However, after sometime, I could easily decipher who was from where and who is talking in which language. Visiting Sri Sathya Sai Baba and observing people there give you a bit of clue as what to expect from what state in terms of visual representation of faces.
Okay some first-timers about this concert:
1. First time that I heard a female artist in vocal Hindustani Classical.
2. First time that I heard an artist singing in the immediate presence of his/her Guru.
3. First time I heard an artist from Assam.
4. First time I happen to meet the family members of the artist.
5. First time I happen to listen to same Bhajan sung by Guru and then by their disciple.
I had heard Begum Pravin Sultana, Vidhushi Sumitra Guha, and even Kavita Krishnamurti, but in electronic mode only (concerts available from Radio Sai Global Harmony sung in presence of Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba)–never heard a female artist in Hindustani Classical Vocal. A few days back, I happen to hear Jayanthy Aiyar in Carnatic Classical Vocal. I must admit that this concert was a sort of eye-opener for me: the voice was so controlled and mastered–I never felt I am listening to it for the first time. I literally sat on staircase of the auditorium, running hither-thither to shoot some clicks and also tamed down by the power of sound. I enjoyed being there as a music-lover, as a photographer, and as a person who could write about it later. 🙂
The accompanists of the artist were also highly competent and had a strange mastery over the instruments. I particular noticed the natural confidence of the Tabla player who reminded me of Pt. Vijay Ghate: an artist I like very much as a lively player bringing so much joy and presence on the stage and matching the class of Ustad Zakir Hussain. Shailendra Mishra was playing with utmost ease and splendid control, which gave that extra-edge to the already powerful presentation of Abhishruti. The harmonium player never went out of harmony and provided excellent support to the vocalist. Sumit Mishra effectively delivered what was expected from him. The two girls of Tanpura, Swarn Vijh (the Guru sister of Abhishruti) and Tulika Lal (her friend from college) were nicely tuned to the notes.
The main feature that I expected to note and which I actually did was the style of Abhishruti. When I heard the concert of her Guru Rajan-Sajan Mishra and Ritesh Mishra, I noticed that they had a particular knack of going from a very high note directly to very low note. During that concert in 2006, my friend Gurvinder and I were almost taken aback by the control of this technique–it looked that it was not possible to do it and how on earth they could do it. Abhishruti excelled in this technique and I was reminded of that concert again and again.
She ended the concert with a song that her Guru also sang, which was so nicely delivered. All the composition that she chose during the concert were so spiritually enlightening and relaxing. I perhaps never heard “Bada Khayal”, which is a particular mode of singing where speed of the notes is fairly levitating in a sense that you find it extremely relaxing. She started her recital with this mode which actually set the theme of the concert. One more feature that I liked in her presentation was the diction and knowledge of pronunciation that she used. Though she is from Assam but living in Delhi for so many years and visiting various places around the world gave him that edge. I have often noticed many artists not paying attention to this side of their personality and being a lover of languages, I invariably happen to take note of it.
Now some adjectives about the concert: it was powerful; it was controlled; it was spiritually elevating; it was relaxing; it was excitingly calm; it was aesthetically presented; and the synchronization between the artists was exquisite, which actually is the pinnacle of Indian classical music. It happens on the stage at that very moment! It was speedy but never in a rush. It was smooth but not a lull. It had variety but was deep.
After the concert, I talked to her sister, her mother and the artist herself, which I never imagined possible in my life coming from such a small town. They were so generous, polite and un-offended by my over-enthusiasm to tell them how lovely it was to be there. I sometimes wonder how on earth I could get such opportunities so easily? This is where you just can sit back and marvel on your own luck…being an ardent lover of Indian classical music and performing arts, I can not ask for more than these sorts of presentation. I wish the artists good health, grace from their Guru and God, and excellence in their ventures!