|ARTS TRIBUNE||Friday, August 10, 2001, Chandigarh, India|
The 10-year-old tabla wizard
HOW does it feel when you happen to hear a lisping little lad of barely two, explaining with the elder’s solicitude the subtle niceties and finer nuances of tabla-playing? Sounds somewhat puerile? Incredibly, this is true of Satyan, a prolific child prodigy next door. An impromptu pow-wow with this youngest scion of Delhi Gharana at his Sector 44 residence, one in Chandigarh fine evening, proved a soul-satisfying experience.
In an animated tete-e-tete, Satyan’s proud parents, who are amongst the phalanx of his ardent admirers, confided that at the outset they were unaware of his innate artistic faculties. "But, we kept our watchful eyes riveted on his day-to-day offbeat activities. In his leisure time, he surreptitiously slip into the drawing room and would sit glued to the TV watching a kathak recital or a classical rendition and toiling hard to recreate the beats on his knees or a wooden table. We would be intrigued to watch him perform in wonderful harmony. Satyan was barely two and a half years at that time, an age when his other crawling cronies were learning to babble. With a view to sharpening his artistic sensibilities, we started taking him to weekend evening musical concerts at Kala Bhavan, Rose Garden or elsewhere. Satyan was so keen that he would even spurn the exciting offer of a hillside excursion to witness these colourful evening soirees, with a mission well defined in his heart of hearts."
Incredible as it may sound, at 10, Satyan is the master of various tabla ‘taals’, including ‘teen taal’, ‘jhap taal’, ‘roopak taal’, ‘dadra’, ‘Punjabi theka’, Punjabi kehrwa’, and of course, a number of other ‘qaidas’, with a pure classical base. His emerging on the musical horizon, tabla-playing to be more precise, as a crescent moon has indeed been enigmatic. You just ask him to play a specific ‘taal’ on the tabla and he will give a dazzling oral demonstration in his dulcet voice, followed by the wizardry of his nimble fingers — a soothing visual treat to the weary eyes!
Endowed with uncanny artistic abilities and razor-sharp wit, a powerful spark of Satyan’s inborn talent was spotted during a cultural extravaganza, organised by the Punjab Sangeet Natak Academy at Kala Bhavan in 1995. Tabla maestro Madan Khan Mir of Delhi Gharana, a deciple of Maqbool Hussain Qureshi, was accompanying a typical classical rendition at the concert. As the well-attended concert progressed, a musing Satyan, who sat huddled in his father’s lap, was painstakingly trying to recreate on his knees the ‘teen taal’ which synchronised well with the one being played on the stage by a perfect master, with some three decades of tabla-playing experience to credit. As the concert came to a close, Mir Sahib surged straight to Satyan, patted him ; held him in his tight embrace and said to the proud father: "This little chap is well-versed in sam. Do take care of him. He has the makings of a maestro."
A quick interaction and, of course, a piece of precious advice from Mir Sahib and an over-enthusiastic father agreed to train Satyan under his protective patronage. The job of chiselling this little child into a consummated tablaplayer was assigned to Ustad Majid Khan, his city-based deciple. This is how Satyan embarked upon a long journey of learning under the tutelage of "Khan Sahib", thus reviving the age-old ‘guru-shishya’ tradition. Complimenting Satyan for his articulate finger work, Mir Sahib had once said, "We have great expectations from this little lad, a young sapling of our gharana, who is for sure poised to shape up into a towering banyan tree in times to come."
Way back in 1997, Chandigarh Press Club invited Innayat Hussain Bhatti, a veteran of 32 Pakistan films and living legend of singing from the sub-continent, to enliven a cultural evening. The colourful cultural evening went off with the scintillating tabla recital by Satyan, which earned him the well-deserved applause from a distinguished gathering which went ga-ga as the little master of tabla went on weaving a web of enchantment and the wizardry of his little fingers on the tabla — a memorable concert one would love to witness again. Greatly impressed by the powerful presentation by the promising virtuoso, Hussain had said: "This boy has a beautiful command over his little fingers. He will prove to be an asset in the world of instrumental music". He also gave him a cash award of Rs 100, which Satyan gladly accepted as "nazrana" from the doyen of acting and singing.
His chance encounters with the reigning matriarchs of the music world from India and the neighbouring subcontinent, including Ustad Allah Rakha, Ustad Mustafa, Chandan Dass, Parvez Mehdi, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Pandit Shiv Kumar and, of course, the reigning kings of Sufiana kalam, the Wadali brothers, have, indeed, been a morale-boosting experience exhorting him to excel, leap across and join the bandwagon of the world luminaries. The grand old man of tabla, late Allah Rakha had predicted about this child prodigy: "I am deeply impressed to watch him perform with amazing perfection and panache." He will surely than not, blaze a new trail in the realm of tabla-playing. I am excited to see Satyan basking in the reflected glory of his being a maestro at such a tender age."
A class V student of St Anne’s Convent School, Chandigarh, Satyan is a star performer at the school’s functions. He has given some stirring solo tabla recitals, besides performing along with his elder sibling Siddarath accompanying him on the flute or casio. Siddharath is an inspiring theatre artiste showcasing the best actor and other coveted awards in his age group.
Satyan, who is equally good at his studies, is a child of few words and has pleasing manners. Shelling out a good chunk of his gingerly planned schedule for the daily ‘riaz’,Satyan, feel the tabla hawks, is all set to send the entire world aflutter by dint of his fierce commitment and good going. An introvert to the core, Satyan prefers to be alone at home to playing marbles or flying kites on rooftops or simply sauntering around. He is clear and categorical about his career options.
When buttonholed to tell about
hobbies, he gives a serene smile, a la Mona Lisa, and coyly confides:
"I draw immense pleasure in drawing sketches of people and
places. Random caricatures and graffiti aimed at satirising a
situation also enthuse me greatly. I love going places, especially the
distant countryside, and be in communion with nature and capture it in
true colours." Quite regular with select TV slots, Satyan can not
afford to skip his hot favourite prime time soap operas "Kahani
Ghar Ghar Ki" and "Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi" and,
of course, the divine classical ‘ragas’ and tabla rendition,
"which is the warp and woof of my psyche".
I remember the good old days in All India Radio. They did have religion, but at the right time in the right place and by the right people. At that time, only the voice and style had to be right and we were spared the sight of strange-looking religious men (there were no women those days) while they chanted their sermons. There were days for Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian prayers. For instance, the Muslims had their Kazi sahib come in on Fridays and one heard some really lovely music, kirtans, bhajans, naats, shabad kirtans which appealed to all music lovers, no matter what their religion as what may be described as music broadcasts in their own right.
Then the different religious festivals, on radio and later on TV were again joyous occasions for all listeners and viewers, showing the common people celebrating, and members of other communities joining in spontaneously for they were community affairs and no netas around with top security. Of course, the President used to go to Kali Bari on occasion, but always without pomp and fierce gun-toting commandos or whatever around. I remember Shovana Narayan, the dancer, recalling her childhood and how as children they used to enjoy each others festivals, visiting each other’s homes and enjoying the traditional mithais and delicacies.
No more. Now religion too, has entered the ratings rat race. Religion certainly has a place on the electronics media and I will repeat what I said in an earlier column, that one respects those who want religious broadcasts and telecasts but, equally, not at the expense of other interests and programmes and certainly precious air time should not be wasted when not at a suitable time and certainly not by dislodging established programmes which also appeal to the community. In any case, in the North, and I am sure it applies to the South as well, there are 24-hour religious channels which specialise in well-planned and well-presented religious discourses. Some of them did excellent coverage during the Kumbh Mela, and one enjoyed the spectacle as well as the deep devotion of those who had come even across the country to have a dip with their families, and sometimes camped under difficult conditions.
Then, as in the Indian cinema, mythological themes and our great epics, the Ramayana and Mahabharata have formed a very important part of the film scene in this country and later of TV. The serialisation of the Ramayanan and Mahabharata are now a part of television history and let alone our neighbouring countries in South Asia, where these epics are also a part of their culture, viewers even in Pakistan are said to have watched these epics, because they took up the universal theme of victory of good over evil. But, I repeat, religious themes and programmes should never interfere with other interests nor appear to be at the expense of pushing out other legitimate aspects of entertainment and information or be aggressive about one religion, as happens on Pakistan TV and radio, because we are a secular and not a theocratic state.
I often channel surf at night and
find some extraordinary religious goings-on at dead of night, from
fiery evangelists who tell us the end of the world is near to slick
preachers, who look like film stars and not at all spiritual and try
to sell redemption to viewers. And most religious-minded viewers of my
knowledge like their religion outside working hours and preferably
early in the morning before the household, the office goer the school
children and the housewife busy with chores, set about starting the
day in an efficient way with an eye on the clock. In this context, for
Star Plus to shut down Good Morning India, which still remains a role
model for other channels which are carrying on cheerfully, and
substitute it with a sub-standard religious programme, presented with
untelegenic preachers with no idea of TV presentation strikes me as a
disaster of the worst kind.
Anuradha Paudwal sings Meera
MERE TO GIRIDHAR GOPAL (Sony): Bhajan singing is Anuradha Paudwal’s forte. In fact, she made her mark in T-Series mainly through her devotional songs in Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Rajasthani, Bengali, Maithilee and Bhojpuri. She has to her credit rendering of Durga Saptashati, Shiv Mahima Strotra, Bhagvad Geeta, Vishnu Sahasranaam, Rudra Paath, Amrutvani, Gujarati Chandipaath, Bhaktambar Stotra and others. Even her debut as a professional playback singer had taken place under the baton of the legendary S.D. Burman for the film "Abhimaan"wherein she sang a Sanskrit Shiva Stotra. After that there was no looking back.
But rarely has she rendered bhajans with as much conviction as she does here. Perhaps, the credit also goes to the music direction of Vishwa Prakash who has maintained the aesthetics and purity of the ragas. To delineate the bhajans which have been rendered by scores of saints, devotees and music lovers down the centuries in an original manner calls for a great effort. Among them are gems like Mere to Giridhar Gopal doosro na koi ….
PYAAR ISHQ AUR MOHABBAT (Tips): Call it luck or coincidence or whatever, but Sunil Shetty gets to move his lips to the tunes of some of the year’s biggest hit songs. This tradition may remain intact with this film as well. The quality of the film does not come under our preview, but the music itself is indeed making waves.
Viju Shah brings freshness to nearly all tracks. Since he does not do too many films, staleness has not really set in.
What is remarkable about this album is that Shaan leaves his mark as a playback singer despite the fact that he gets to sing only one song (leaving out the theme tune, that is). Apni yaadon ko … is the solo in which he reminds you a lot of Kumar Sanu. Sanu himself is excellent in Main bewafa ….
After a midlife pause, Anand Bakshi is penning lyrics with considerable freshness.
PAAN KHAYE SAIYAN HAMARO (HMV): While most other record companies are signing new films, HMV continues to dip into the large reservoir of its old recordings. It tries out various permutations and combinations. These include a singer, a lyricist, a music director and a theme. Themes that have already been flogged to near-death include "dard bhare geet", "filmi ghazals", love songs and quawwalis.
The latest to be tried out is "UP folk". With that much hint, perhaps you can divine all songs that it has. Yes, the album begins with Paan khaye saiyan hamaro … from "Teesri Kasam" and ends with Yeh gotedar lehnga nikloon jab dal ke … from "Dharam Kanta". In between there are such hits as Mere pairon mein ghunghroo bandha de… ("Sangharsh"), Jhumka gira re Bareily ke bazaar mein… ("Mera Saaya"), Nain lad jaiyen … ("Ganga Jamuna"), Dhoondo dhoondo re saajna … ("Ganga Jamuna"), Koi shahri babu … ("Loafer"), Gori ke hath mein … ("Mela"), Chadh gayo paapi bichhua… ("Madhumati").
One consolation is that you get to
hear these songs in their original form and not the mutilated remix