January was a musical month for Punekars with 3 big events taking place back to back. It started with SwaraZankar, followed later by Vasantotsav and, ended on a high ‘beat’ with Taalchakra, scheduled on the last day of the month. Although the event was previously scheduled in November, for some reasons, it was postponed. As long as it brings a host of wonderful artistes to enthrall music lovers in the city, the slight rescheduling didn’t seem to bother Punekars much. The event took place from January 31 to February 2 at New English School Grounds, Ramanbaug.
The first day of the festival began with the performance of ‘Rakesh and Friends‘. The young group of musicians consists of Rakesh Chaurasiya on flute, Gino Banks on Drums, Sheldon D’Silva on Bass Guitar, Shridhar Partasarthy on Mridamgam, Sanjay Das on Guitar and Sangeet Haldipur on Keyboard. The fusion music was quite different from the usual classical music programmes that take place in this part of the city and the flute mingled wonderfully with other instruments. Gino Banks and Rakesh Chaurasiya were at their best, enthralling the audience with solo performances as well as intermingling with the rest of the performers. A wonderful start to the event.
After the performance, the great Ghatam maestro Vikku Vinayakram was felicitated and congratulated for winning the Padma Bhushan. Ustad Zakir Hussain, Taufiq Qureshi, Kumar Bose and Vijay Ghate were present onstage for the same. Vikkuji gave an emotional speech and also mentioned how he won the Padma Shri when Zakir was conferred with the Padma Bhushan and how he has been awarded the same honour while Vijay Ghate bagged the Padma Shri this year. Ghate too was congratulated for winning the prestigious title.
After the felicitations, Zakir Hussain sat down with his tabla. It was 8:40 in the evening now and there was very little time left for the performance by the maestro. He wished Ajay Joglekar, who was accompanying him on the harmonium using the tabla to play the tune of ‘Happy Birthday’ before beginning his performance. Like always, Zakir was the crowd-puller, getting a full house at the venue. Many were seen standing in line, waiting for a pass while most of the space in the Ramanbaug ground seemed wasted. The organisers definitely did not expect such a huge audience to turn up! The few lucky ones who got in couldn’t have thanked their stars more, for the ustad and his tabla delivered and how! Zakir, it seems, only gets better with every performance, transcending his ability with the instrument to an all new level. A standing ovation and loud applause throughout the performance with chants of ‘waah!’ were how the audience ensured the maestro knew how impressive he was!
The second day of Taalchakra started with Subhankar Banerjee and Yogesh Samsi showcasing their talent on the tabla. The performers who, in the past have accompanied noted performers in Indian Classical Music, performed together on a rare occasion. They were accompanied by Tanmay Deochakke on harmonium and both put together a wonderful performance with the tabla. The jugalbandi was loved by the audience.
The highlight of the day, however, was the performance by Taufiq Qureshi and Vikku Vinayakram. Taufiq bhai played onstage with his son Shikhar and their versatile performance with the Djembe (an African drum instrument) was loved by the audience. Shikhar, it seems, has grasped the instrument at a very young age and matched the beats of his father, leaving Taufiqji beaming with pride.
However, the best was yet to come. Vikku Vinayakram graced the stage with his grandson Hariharan. While Vikkuji put together an amazing performance with his various Ghatams, grandson Hariharan accompanied him on Kanjira, also singing the talam and explaining the rhythm that was being played. Personally, this was the best performance of the festival and once again, day 2 became the best day of the 3-day festival (it was the same for SwaraZankar and Vasantotsav too!).
The third and final day of the festival saw two performances that were very different from the rest. Ranjeet Barot on the drums and Trilok Gurtu on his various instruments put together a hatke show, playing rhythm in a wonderful way. Although both the artistes were quite unknown to most of the musical audience in the city, they definitely managed to leave a mark.
Later in the day, two Bengal tigers were set loose in the event (not literally). Pandit Anindo Chatterjee and Pandit Kumar Bose, both well-known for their ability and talent to create wonderful rhythm with the tabla, played alongside each other. The high octane performance was loved by the audience and they set a very high pace from the beginning. Together, they played the tabla with a ferocity like never before. So much so, their performance was extended up to 10:30 PM, the only time when the festival would not stop before the 10 PM deadline. They seized the moment to impress the audience and enthralled everyone present. The event definitely ended on a high note.
Although the 2nd and 3rd day did not see as big a crowd as on the first day, Taalchakra managed to create a stamp on Pune’s musical map once again.
Photo Credits: Sana Sohoni
Disclaimer: The pictures of the first performance of Taalchakra ‘Rakesh and Friends’ are unavailable as our contributor photographer was preoccupied. We apologise for the same.