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Golden Voice Golden Years A celebration into the world of the living legend Pt Jasraj

The eighty-nine year old living legend Pandit Jasraj has enthralled his audiences, over eighty years, with his sonorous voice presenting unique Bandishes and rare ragas with a perfection attained through years of riyaz and dedication.

The maestro turned ninety as the clock struck midnight on March 15. On this day his music lovers had gathered at the Shanmukhananda auditorium Mumbai to listen to their favorite maestro, wishing him a great musical journey ahead.


Golden Voice Golden Years, conceptualized by Durga Jasraj, is indeed a great initiative to bring forth interesting pieces from the maestro’s life. It is in the form of a story telling format, one of its kind featuring the living legend himself.


The documentary, shot by Durga Jasraj, captures key instances from the life of the maestro show casing his evolution from being a Sadhak Jasraj to becoming Sangeet Mathand Pt. Jasraj. Each segment of the documentary, showcased an audio-visual clip taking through the most important turning-points of Panditji’s journey – from his childhood days to his first exploration at a radio station in Kolkata to becoming one of the most celebrated music maestros in the world!


Talking about his initial days reminiscing his father Pt. Motiramji, who initiated him into vocal music, and how his father’s untimely demise changed the entire course of his life Panditji said, “I was just 4 years old in 1934, when my father was about to be appointed as the state musician of the then princely state of Hyderabad, but he untimely passed away the same day early morning. The incident changed the complexion of the entire family and my mother had no option but to encourage me to play Tabla that I learnt from my elder brother Pt. Pratap Narayanji. Eventually I started accompanying my elder brother and my guru Pt. Maniramji in concerts which also helped earning a living for the family.”


In spite of all odds, young Jasraj played the Tabla so well, that he eventually became a child prodigy at the age of seven. His rhythmic invention and articulation became something to marvel at so he started getting invitations to perform in various musical Baithaks and Tabla Akharas organized by the Royalty then. The documentary gives a rare glimpse of Panditji’s tabla performance, as he says, “Even today before every performance I always play a bit of my favorite instrument.”


Panditji credits the leading vocalist of his time Begum Akhtarji, who inspired him to take up vocal music, as he remembers bunking school to listen to her Ghazal, ‘Deewana Banana Hai to Deewana Banade’ at a local restaurant on the way to school.


At the age of fifteen he began training under his elder brother Pandit Maniramji, who eventually became a father figure for him in due course of time. Panditji spoke about learnings and knowledge received from his guru Pandit Maniramji and his spiritual guru Maharaja Jaywant Singhji Waghela.


Every year since 1972, the maestro organizes a music festival in Hyderabad, to commemorate his father Pandit Motiramji and elder brother Pandit Maniramji, titled Sangeet Samaroh. It has kept the tradition of Guru Shishya Parampara of the Mewati Gharana alive.


The documentary was interwoven with live musical performances from students of the Pandit Jasraj School of Music Foundation. It was followed by a performance by Bhajan Samrat Anup Jalotaji who, as a tribute to the living legend, sang Panditji’s favorite Ghazal of Begum Akhtar ‘Deewana Banana Hai to Deewana Banade’ and ‘Aisi Lagi Lagan’.


The performance was followed by a unique tabla symphony “Raagas on Tabla” composed by Kedar Pandit that showed the shades of Raga Bhopali on Tabla. It was indeed a rare experiment to play a classical raga on a percussion instrumental amalgamation, because it requires so much coordination to create a raga on the beats flowing like a melody amongst the team of percussionists. Next was a performance by Dr L Subramaniam who gave a melodious presentation of Raga Jog followed by a composition in Raga Mishra Khamaj.


The last segment of the biography completed the submission of Pandit Jasraj at the feet of the Lord. At this stage in life, the maestro hails Jai Ho...That is symbolic of the manifestation (meaning Avahan in Hindi) of the supreme power, thus surrendering everything and whatever he is today to the Almighty God!


The ecstatic musical journey continued throughout the second half of the concert, as the Maestro himself performed with the unspeakable majesty and tenderness of Raga Jog. It was followed by his favorite Bandish  dedicated to the Goddess Durga-Bhavani ‘Mata Kalika’ in Adana culminating with an extended bhajan, ‘Govindam Gukulanandam’ that rained showers of pure ecstasy over an enraptured audience!


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Picture credit ‘Art And Artistes’.

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