Mesmerized by the Master, Pandit Jasraj

Pandit Jasraj in Cambridge
A few weeks ago, we attended a concert by the maestro Padma Vibhushan Pandit Jasraj! And what an evening! He started with a beautiful raga. Then, for the rest of the evening he mesmerized us with Krishna bhajans! In a live concert, he would take a four line bhajan and make variations to it for 30 minutes. I was on the edge of my seat! And this went on for more than three hours, and we were still not ready for it to end. When it did end, we hung around him, got his autograph and chatted with him (more like he chatted and we listened).

What a stellar performance. His command and control of his vocal chords was phenomenal. Panditji was accompanied by Sougata Banerjee, an accomplished vocalist in his own regard. But supporting Panditji, he came across as a tongue tied novice. Panditji would lead him through variations of a phrase, and in only a few cases Sougata could keep up. Many a times, Panditji would shake his head and repeat the phrase; and repeat again and again!

Anuradha Pal provided tabla support and was one amazing player. She was billed as the only female professional tabla player. Certainly the first I had even seen. And, she was super talented. She read, no sensed, Panditji's mood and development of the bhajan and changed the beats accordingly. And every time she read him correctly, he would turn to her andnod his appreciation. He nodded at her a lot, that evening.

This collage will give you a gist of Panditji's incredible repertoire! Can anyone tell what instrument the Panditji is playing?

You can tell M was enraptured by the maestro. Not only for the wonderful evening, but for the unique autograph he signed for her!

Panditji signed for everyone. Then, when M nudged forward the back of the announcement poster, he paused and his pen hovered over the paper. Then he started to scribble. As the words were imprinted, M's eyes grew wide, and a chorus from the others rose, “Panditji, please write like that for us too?” Panditji replied, “No more autographs.”

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