‘Smritiyaan’, held in memory of tabla ace Pt. Chatur Lal, was a blend of music and dance

‘Smritiyaan’, held in memory of tabla ace Pt. Chatur Lal, was a blend of music and dance

The Pt. Chatur Lal Memorial Society recently organised the annual event ‘Smritiyaan’ to pay tribute to tabla maestro Pt. Chatur Lal on his 55th death anniversary. The event brought together singer Malini Awasthi, who presented thumri and dadras in typical Purab Ang Gayaki while senior Kathak dancer Shovana Narayan interpreted them through movements and expressions.

Trained under the legendary Girija Devi, Malini’s rendition was marked by skill and clarity. She took care to give enough space to the dancer to display her prowess. Shovana’s sensitive abhinaya was interspersed with the kavit, tode-tukde, paran, gat-bhava, etc., climaxing the tabla laggi of the thumri-dadra with her crisp footwork.

Kathak dancer Shovana Narayan

Rich in bhava

Opening with a Bol-Banaav ki Thumri, ‘Thade rahiyo ho banke Shyam...’, set to addha theka, Malini elaborated each word with imaginative swara combinations while Shovana conveyed the meaning through facial expressions. She came up with a similar kavit for the sthayi and antara and danced on a lehera (musical refrain) in Khamaj. For instance, after the lyric, ‘Kari aun solaho singar’, she would dance on ‘Lachkat kamar... Chandra-Badan, Kamal-Nayan’ concluding with a tihai of the word Balihari, rendered thrice to arrive on ‘sam’ like a lightning.

Malini chose the thumri-dadras in different ragas such as ‘Kaun albele ki naar’ in Mishra Gara, where Shovana showcased five different ways of ghoonghat in Kathak, or ‘Tohe leke sawariya main chali jaibe’ where even the matching parans and chakkardars enhanced the appeal of the brave Nayika, who is ready to take her beloved away from the constraints of the society.

The concluding Bhairavi that Malini chose to render was a popular poem by Harishchandra, ‘Mat maro talwaria nayan ki...’, (Don’t pierce me with your sword-like eyes) which was represented through a sword fight between the vocalist and the dancer.

The invocation by Sooryagayathri set the tone for the event. The popular Dikshitar kirti in Hamsadhwani, ‘Vatapi Ganapatim’, was prefaced with the Sanskrit verses ‘Vakratunda Mahakaya’ and ‘Guru Brahma…‘ rendered in an alapana style set to the same raga.

Tribute to the maestro

‘Tribute from a Grandson to Grandfather’ that came next featured Pranshu Chatur Lal’s solo tabla performance. Trained from early childhood by his illustrious grandfather Pt. Chatur Lal and father Pt. Charanjeet Chatur Lal, Pranshu presented the challenging time cycle of 9¼ beats and played it with the clarity of conception demanded by the difficult tala.

His systematic rendering of peshkara, qaayada, rela, and chakkardar tihais were brilliant. They brought forth his effective taalim (training) and riyaaz (practice). Accompanied on the sarangi by Aijaaz Hussain, Pranshu concluded his performance with drut Teentala, which bore the stamp of his gurus.

The author writes on

Hindustani music.