Jubilee Program on 18th October, 2008
to cherish forever…
Impeded by the Mumbai traffic, my wife and I reached a little late at Rabindra Natya Mandir, for the much-awaited grand function
of the 18th. Rushing through the outer
corridors, we were greeted
by the strains of Ganesh Vandana in an evocative female voice, and I was sure of two things: one, that this had to be the
very first item of the evening, and two, the voice could have belonged to none other than Smt Kaushiki Chakraborty Desikan.
An atmosphere of great expectations was already created by the devotion resonating all around the exquisite auditorium…
Ushered in towards our allotted seats among our batch mates, we settled down to
soak in the well-lit stage décor. It was simple and elegant without too much decorative
distractions; the focal points were plainly and squarely the star performers themselves.
And what an ensemble it was! The radiant figure of Pt. Ajoy Chakraborty, and the
sage-like presence of Shri Shekhar Sen flanked the glowing beauty of Smt. Kaushiki. Seated
in a semicircle around them were the noted accompanying performers with their respective chosen instruments: the tabla, the
sarangi, the harmonium, the flute, the guitar…
The theme of the unique programme was already conveyed through the elaborate title:
Bhakti, Sanmati, Sharanagati! An inspired
creation of the National Award winning singer and a BES School alumni, Ms. Chhaya Ganguli. She had strung every item like
pearls in a necklace worthy of offering to Goddess Saraswati herself!
History and geography merged into expanding the canvas, as various regional flavours
and legendary exponents of poetry and music exploded into a symphony of joy and devotion…The mesmerizing ambience was
visited in spirit by immortals like Meera Bai, Narsi Mehta, Nazrul Islam…as
their timeless creations were presented with great love and reverence by the artistes on stage.
Smt. Kaushiki demonstrated another aspect of her rare genius through the ease and
dexterity with which she sang compositions from almost all corners of India, in diverse languages.
Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty was like a monumental figure singing with sublime facility
the most complex of musical offerings. He also spoke with clarity and candour about the finer points of the items that unfolded.
Going beyond his role as artiste, he also made sincere appeals to the audience to shower
its support and goodwill to the future of the school.
Shri Shekhar Sen sang a special and hitherto unpublished song written by Kavi Pradeep,
to bring alive the ‘Sanmati’ aspect. Later, responding to Chhaya Ganguli’s
special request, he also performed a small portion from his much acclaimed solo act ‘Kabeer’, without the usual
make-up and get-up of the great saint-poet! The sheer power of his voice and acting proved more than adequate!
As the evening glided along smoothly, there were
guest appearances by the key-board wizard Y.S.
the legendary arranger and saxophone exponent
Singh. Age could never leave a mark on their
except as a mark of respect. They delighted the
as worthy interludes.
There was also a thoughtful inclusion of a short film, paying tribute to the very
popular voice of yester-years, Smt. Juthika Roy. The two screens on two sides of the stage which were quietly announcing the
items in progress, suddenly came alive with sound and movement through this nostalgic documentary.
A high point of
the rich tapestry of the programme was the weaving in of a splendid dance item by the gorgeous danseuse Smt Indrayanee Mukherjee.
She was complemented by the melodious voice of Smt Smita Adhikari who sang the immortal Tulsidas bhajan ‘Thumaka chalata Ramachandra…” Without any props or stage-craft, young Indrayanee was grace and affection
personified in the role of mother Kaushalya.
The entire complex programme was beautifully conducted by the talented ‘sutradhar’
Smt. Shailaja Ganguli, whose eloquence was remarkably soothing and perfect as she switched languages seamlessly…
The grand finale of this memorable creative treat, I thought, was the very last
item. A ripple of emotions ran through the wonderfully receptive audience as Pandit Ajoy
Chakraborty announced that the ‘kirtan’ composition he was about to
sing was originally composed five centuries ago by none other than Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu himself! And as the divine notes
began to flow from the collective voices on stage, the audiences responded with their hands and body, clapping and swaying
spontaneously! As if a slice of history from old Bengal and Orissa was re-enacted in distant
Mumbai five centuries later! Such is the power of music and devotion, brought alive by gifted artistes…
Doubtless, everyone among the privileged audience that evening, went back convinced
that Sharanagati, or surrender, either
to God or to music, can bring the greatest joy!
-Shri Ashok Roy