Friday, June 13, 2003, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S


Art galleries – Protecting & promoting culture
Garima Pant

Every artist aspires to attain fame and admiration and wants his work to reach the widest audience. For one segment of the artist community, namely painters and sculptors, art galleries provide the perfect platform to exhibit their works. Great works combined with perfect ambience spell magic and one transcends into an altogether different world. Add perfect management by way of public and media relations and one can boast of having a successful exhibition. Their inception into our city began with a very restricted number. Their existence was restricted to certain specific areas and were definitely not within the reach of anybody and everybody.

The Lalit Kala Akademi with the help of the Delhi Development Authority in 1976 set up studios known as Garhi, the artists’ haven.

These were inspired by the city where art prospers and is appreciated the most, Paris, where artists are provided with studios and lodgings.

Only qualified professional artists can work here. Their work is evaluated and those with talent and great promise are taken in.

The artists are given a free rein to explore and discover their creativity. Though situated in the centre of South Delhi, it is cut off from the hustle and bustle of busy city life providing an opportunity to the artists to pursue their interest in a tranquil atmosphere.

Sanskriti Kendra, a peaceful sprawling sanctuary for artists and craftspersons as well as visitors, is situated at Anandgram in the Qutab-Mehrauli area of New Delhi.

Positioned amid eight acres of land having 2,000 trees, the Sanskriti Kendra was the brainchild of Mr O. P. Jain, a renowned art collector. It was visualised as a place where creative minds could pursue and interact with others with regard to the area of study of their choice with an aim that such an interaction would lead to a new sensibility that would in turn enrich and bolster the bond of our shared culture. Here, craftsperson lodge in mud huts reminiscent of their village homes while scholars are provided a complete studio, workshop, library and residential facilities. The kendra has an art gallery for exhibition of work of artists, an auditorium, and an open-air amphitheatre.

With the passage of time and growing media attention focused on art and culture, the number of art galleries also increased. Barring a couple of months in the scorching summer heat when the art galleries close down, the rest of the year is marked with exhibitions round the clock.

The galleries are spread in every corner of the city and provide new and upcoming artists a platform to exhibit their works along the lines of established names.

Gallery Ganesha and Gallery Esapace are two such examples presenting a perfect blend of both the old and the new. Established in 1989, both provide a perfect platform for an interaction between the artist and the viewer.

One of the most prestigious art galleries situated in Delhi is the National Gallery of Modern Art. The gallery is located on the premises of Jaipur House, once owned by the Maharaja of Jaipur, near India Gate. It has around 4,000 paintings of modern artists, including graphics and sculptures. It has a huge collection of art and literature on art and culture with paintings of Indian and colonial artists.

Lalit Kala Akademi is a spacious gallery spread over three floors. Major Indian artists have their work on display here. Triveni Kala Sangam has four galleries in this cultural complex, including the basement gallery run by Art Heritage.

Other important art galleries in New Delhi include AIFACS Gallery, Art Heritage, Art Today, Azad Bhawan Gallery, Centre for Contemporary Art, Delhi Art Gallery, Dhoomimal Art Center, Vadehra Art Gallery and Sahitya Kala Parishad.


Retaining the purity of ragas, he makes the
sarangi sing
Priyanka Gupta

Chewing a paan and dressed up in a kurta pyjama with a sarangi in his hand, his is a face which expresses the ups and down of life. World renowned musician Ustad Sabri Khan literally makes the sarangi sing with a skill that keeps audiences spellbound even today. Belonging to the family of Mian Tansen, Ustad Sabri Khan has been honoured with numerous awards, including those from the Sahitya Kala Parishad, the UP Sangeet Natak Akademi, National Sangeet Natak Akademi. Despite the Government of India honouring him with Padma Shri he remains steadfastly humble and approachable.

Starting to play sarangi at the tender age of seven, he has now seen eight generations of his family in the same profession. He was very much interested in sports but his father Ustad Chajju Khan forced him to learn the intricacies of playing the sitar. He leaned towards learning the complexities of Indian classical music.

Remembering his initial days of struggle, Ustad Sabri Khan said, “I owe a lot to Pandit Krishnaswamy, who taught me notations in sarangi playing in four different languages, namely Urdu, Hindi, English and Tamil. Actually, he used to make me sit away from the mike. Others used to sit near the mike. I used to feel jealous and bad. He then told me that was because I know Urdu only. He learned Urdu and used to translate Tamil scripts into Urdu for me. I got inspired from him and learned Tamil. This is an invaluable asset for me now. I also remember the initial days of struggle. But I never got disheartened as I had set my mind to making a mark in this field.”

The ustad revealed he never wasted time loitering around. Instead, he relentlessly did riyaz whenever he was free. His patience, discipline and hard work paid off eventually and he went on playing at cultural evenings and sammelans.

Ustad Sabri Khan has played with world famous musicians like Bade Gulam Ali Khan, Omkar Nath Thakur, Amir Khan, Dagar brothers, Bhim Sen Joshi and eminent singers of Pakistan, namely Ashiq Ali Khan, Umeed Ali Kahn, Salamat, Begum Roshan Ara, Fateh Ali Khan and many more.

Ustad Sabri Khan has generated his own style over a period of time. Purity of the raga, variety of taans, layakari (rhythmic oscillations), alaap and the traditional form of sarangi are the hallmark of his style. He added, “Playing as an accompanist is a challenging task because each gharana has its own particular style. Therefore, the accompanist has to catch the vocalist’s mood.” He has mesmerised the audiences of UK, France, West Germany, Holland, Mexico, Thailand, Canada, Italy, Spain, Bulgaria, USSR and many more countries with his performances. He was also invited as a visiting professor by the University of Washington.

Now Sarvar, Jamal, Kamal, Gulfam, Farzana, Suhail and Faisal complete the trained and talented tree of Ustad Sabri Khan’s family. He brought the interview to an end with this statement: “Though man’s dreams can never die and the quest for learning music increases with each passing day but this curiosity makes man perfect. Now I want to teach as many students as I can at an institution or a school perhaps where I can share whatever knowledge I have with me.” Words fail in attempting to describe his personality. 


Another star on the Indipop horizon

Raghav SacharTwentyone-year-old Raghav Sachar is probably Indipop’s first multi- instrumentalist who can do a bit of singing too. He can play three kinds of saxophones, the flute, the harmonica, the keyboard, the clarinet, the recorder, the blues harp, the guitar, the digeridoo and percussion.

He began his tryst with music at a very young age. He has won many awards at various competitions. He has also formed a band called ‘Canzona’ with a few friends in Delhi. ‘Canzona’ is an Italian word meaning ‘any song’. He has done his graduation from Monash University in Australia and was given the Golden Key Award and Earnest Award for excellence in academics in 2000 and 2001 there. He is all set to make a splash in the music world with his solo debut album being brought out by Saregama India. Here’s a look into the life and thoughts of this upcoming talent:

You were born in a family of music lovers. but generally people are fond of music. What attracted you to music at first?

My father was playing the harmonica for my mom one night when I was four years old. Hearing him, I got inspired and started playing.

Could you tell me something about your early years?

I was born in Rourkela (Orissa) and stayed in a lot of towns, including Bhubaneswar, Gwalior, Shillong etc as my dad, who is a cop, used to get transferred frequently. Later, I largely stayed in Delhi where I did my education from Mount St Mary’s School.

How did ‘Canzona’ happen?

While in school, playing in the band with Hitesh (guitarist of Euphoria), Lokesh and a few more school friends, I decided to form a rock band, adding many instruments in it to make it sound different.

Why did you choose Monash University in Australia for your bachelors degree?

I got in at one go and it was economically viable for my family. I had heard a lot about it from friends and know for a fact that it is one of the biggest universities in the world.

How was the learning experience there?

Very beneficial! My playing skills improved by about 80 per cent and all knowledge given and learnt was very good, which helped my overall development as a musician. I had a blast there.

Was your family supportive of the career you chose? Did you face any troubles while deciding on this field?

My family has been extremely supportive in every respect. I can’t thank them enough. Nothing that I wanted was ever met with a no. My sisters have been very supportive and I give my family full credit for what I am today or will be tomorrow.

What inspires you the most?

Good music done and executed well. Good melody lines, arrangements and projection!

Numerous awards have been bestowed on you from an early age and you have visited various countries. How does it feel after receiving so much adulation and recognition?

I think I am one of the luckiest people in the world to have done so much and got recognised for it. I would thank God and my parents for all of this. I, of course, feel very good and special.

Your first solo album will be out soon. How are the preparations going and how do you feel at the moment?

I am very excited about it. It is an awesome learning experience. I am hoping that my music is appreciated by the audience and received well. As of now, I am concentrating on putting in my best and getting a good product out in the market.

What are your hobbies apart from music?

Playing squash, badminton, tennis and golf, driving and listening to good music without critically analysing it.

Any idols / role models?

Yes! Sting, for his awesome melodies and execution of his work. R.D. Burman, for his timeless melodies and a few others but largely these two.

How would you describe your kind of music?

Funky. A cultural blend with inspiration from various countries. In two words, cultural amalgamation”.

Garima Pant

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