A file photo of Pt Jasraj
Kolkata: Pandit Jasraj’s bond using Kolkata was a particular one that started in 1946 when he began living in town together with his brother and after that, worked as an artiste in India Radio. While the news of his passing in New Jersey added into the lockdown gloom of disciples and songs connoisseurs in Kolkata, in addition, it brought back memories of his own affiliation with the town he called his next residence, where he’d spent 13 extended decades.
In January this year, before his performance prior to his 90th birthday, Jasraj had spoke about his days at Kolkata, when he spent 14 hours every day to riyaaz as a 20-year old. “Kolkata amake onek diyechhe (Kolkata has given me a lot),” he’d always say in eloquent Bengali. “I owe a lot for the town. Here, it’s simple to construct relationships. In this city lived somebody I used to phone Ammaji. Her title was Som Tiwari. She had been a disciple of my ace, (my’bade bhaisaab’ Pt Maniram). She sang well and loved my singing also. She’d constantly encourage me and state: Tumhare gaane mein ek bichitr cheez hai jo auro mein nahin hai (there’s something on your singing which is not there in other people ). She’d insist that I keep with my own riyaaz.”
He had been barely 20 then. Frequently he’d go and practice with Tiwari. Any mention of Kolkata would always bring up the titles of his friends, Dr Mukund Lath and Ujjwal Roy. Back thenhe used to play the tabla but Roy could”struggle with everybody” and insist that he did not do this. “He’d even tell my ace:’Oke tabla bajate bolben na. Aap chahe toh kisi aur tablawala ko bula lijiye. Nahi toh primary baja deta hun… (Do not ask him to play the tabla. Please ask somebody else. Otherwise, I’ll play…) I had been fortunate to have obtained such individuals . They protected me were just like a banyan tree,” he’d say.
It had been in Tiwari’s home that Pt Vijay Kichlu had met him. “Pt Jasraj belonged to Kolkata. He was an excellent singer but back thenit appeared that he was shy of singing in public. Gradually from being a tabla player, he turned into a vocalist. His influence was Ustad Aamir Khan along with his coaching from his own brother. However, he made a niche for himself without even pursuing anyone ,” Kichlu explained.
Pt Anindya Chatterjee, that had followed closely at 15 concerts, explained the legend that the rendition had a special differentiation of this Mewati gharana while reminding him of recitals of Pt Omkarnath Thakur and Ustad Aamir Khan.
Throughout his various excursions to the city for demonstrations, Panditji’s automobile would occasionally cross Kabir Road flood him with memories. His Kolkata address throughout his childhood was 32 Kabir Road. Few steps off, on 27 Kabir Road, was the home of Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. Both could often bump into each other. Their encounters were storehouse of thoughts. Nevertheless, they were not necessarily just about songs. “Once when I had been out on a walk, I found Dada wearing a vest and washing his Land Cruiser. When he discovered I was outside on a walk, he stated that I must hop into his vehicle. And in 12 seconds apartment, he drove me to Chowringhee and back! )” He’d laugh and state. Much later in life, after the two of them had turned in their VCR to see Madhuri Dixit dancing to’Ek do teen’ in a loop for more than one hour.
It was possibly that camaraderie that had made him agree to singing in the inaugural version of Kolkata’s Swar Samrat Festival that’s devoted to Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. “He had been 83 afterward and went on stage at four in the afternoon and sang for two hours half an hour. Listening to him was hypnotic,” recalled Pt Tejendra Narayan Majumdar.
Kolkata has welcomed him with open arms each time that he returned to carry out. As stated by the maestro, this capacity to love art and artistes was in Kolkata’s DNA for ages. His eyes will twinkle with delight whilst remembering how he had watched a few 10,000-strange individuals standing outside the Basusree theater to find a glimpse of Pt Ravi Shankar. “The organiser indicated he leave through the backdoor. But, Motilal Ranga and that I, who had been there with him at the greenroom, indicated he return. Ranga had chosen Dada up and put him on his mind. There he sat in the lotus pose and shortly he had been hauled from 1 man’s head to the of the other while going facing Basusree at a circle”
After during a stroll beyond the Sangu Valley restaurant at Hazra when he’d overheard the conversation of a couple of young girls over cups of tea. “One of these had stated:’Bade Ghulam Ali r gaan shunlam (I listened to Bade Ghulam Ali saab’s rendition)’. Another woman cut her brief expression:’Tui Bagher gaan shunechis? Bagher gaan shonar pore ar… (Have you listened to the Tiger? ) After having listened to this Tiger, you can not…’ Do you know who tiger they had been speaking to? It was none other than Ustad Faiyaz Khan saab!”
Overhearing such discussions regarding music was inspirational for him too. “Kolkata is a town which talks songs all the time. On a different occasion, I had been walking Hindustan Park once I stumbled upon a bunch of young boys playing with gully cricket. The second one hit the ball an onlooker said:’Dekhechis ball kikore marlo? Jeno mone holo Bhimsein er taan! (Have you noticed the way he struck the ball? It seemed as simple as a Bhimsein Joshi taan)’,” he’d often remember.
During these times, not each kid had the money to manage concert tickets. There have been numerous times when he, together with my friends, would listen to live concerts amplified by the loudspeakers. He’d stand before the loudspeakers positioned closely on the roads and listen to this recitals until the wee hours of this afternoon. “Occasionally I would wait out the concerts expecting that some listener could depart midway and be sweet enough to deliver his ticket so I could input the auditorium and listen to the final half of this concert. During these days, I’d only begun singing to the radio and on occasion the gate keepers would understand me and let me ”
If this did not work, he’d visit the bus depots and attempt to sneak within an empty bus and spend the night there listening to a concert on the loudspeaker at the area. Back then, buses was parked at night close to the Basusree theater. “On the concert times, I’d go to the depot and creep into one of those buses. If fortune favoured mepersonally, the conductor would let me lie down one of those chairs while I listened to audio. That saved any strain on my thighs also! On other events, I’d simply stop by a few roadside tea-seller and arrange for countless cups of tea and listen to musical discussions.”
Each time that he visited Kolkata, these stories would tumble from his bag. Maybe, in a different world, he’s busy once more, narrating these stories and much more to an audience containing doyens such as Pt Bhimsein Joshi, Pt Ravi Shankar, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and Ustad Vilayat Khan. The skies are definitely being regaled.