Life and times of an inimitable maestro

Devoted

Sangeet Martand Pandit Jasraj is a film made by his daughter, Durga Jasraj in 2009.

Recently screened at IIC as part of Films on Music from India and Abroad, the 122-minute documentary, attracted a large number of ardent admi­rers of the Hindustani Classical maestro. The screening was organised in collaboration with Doordarshan - whose arch­i­ves are full of such gems.

The recordings in the documentary included renditions of Raga Jog, Malkauns, Kalawati and Miyan Malhar, alongwith bhajans.

Pandit Jasraj, who belongs to the Mewati gharana has a voice is filled with awareness, insight and dedication. The screening included intervi­e­ws with Panditji’s daughter Durga who spoke of his teaching style. Durga recalled that he would impart training in his inimitable style - it could be on a train journey or in a room or a place which caught his fancy, irrespective of time but whenever in the mood.

The film was a montage of Panditji’s recordings which combined live and studio performances. Clips in the film also included shots of his disciples listening to him intently as he spoke about Indian classical music and imparted learning of the craft.

His soulful voice has the power to render the viewer in a trance like state. Interestingly, the rise and fall of the emotions flowing through his voice have a calming effect on whoever watches him play.

Music is sadhana for this living legend who has been awarded Padma Vibhushan and the Sangeet Natak Academi Award apart from several other international and national honours. Panditji has the uncanny ability to bring alive the environment around him and infuse the atmosphere with sublime energy. The movements of his hands and facial expressions show how he has surrendered himself to his work of art.

Given the monicker Bright Sun of Indian Classical Music, Pandit Jasraj’s work is defi­n­ed by an emotive, devotional, rhythmic-conscious and lyric-conscious style by introducing stylistic elements into the traditional Mewati style. Music is not just a spiritual pursuit but a mission that he has lived and continues to live. He says, “Music is the breath of my life. I breathe it.... I absorb it unconsciously and it manifests getting metamorphosed into an unrecognisable element of my sing­ing.”

In comparison to the youth of today who are easily swa­y­ed by popular numbers the older generation prefers to listen to the tranquil music of the yesteryears and reminisce the good old days. “There was a time when Doordarshan was the only channel and we often sat with our families to listen to the ragas of Pandit Jasraj and Pt. Bhimsen Joshi. Having attended the film today, I feel that nothing has changed,” commented Dara, a septuagenarian who attended the show.

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