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Like Master, Like Pupil

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The Economic Times, October 9, 1988

Shamim Ahmed, who played so soulfully at the Dadar-Matunga Cultural Center in observance of the International Music Day on October 1, is one of the most outstanding disciples of the sitar maestro Ravi Shankar–the other one being Kartick Kumar.

The well-attended concert showed, once again, how deeply the virtuoso has imbibed the spirit of the great Seniya tradition of Hindustani music. The style, which was enriched and popularized by his guru’s guru. Allauddin Khan of Maihar, is not only distinct but difficult too, embodying a fusion of gayaki, layakari and tantrakari.

Needless to say, mastering such a style calls for single-minded devotion, rigorous discipline and arduous riyaz under the constant guidance and direction of the master. Shamim Ahmed has not only invested it with a stamp unmistakably his own. In the process, he has more than vindicated his “shagiridi” under his long and fruitful studentship with his world famous mentor.

The bill of fare covered jaijaiwanti, Mishra Khamaj and Hamir before the interval. Later, Shamim offered Jog and rounded off with a Bhairavi. Of these numbers, Jaijaiwanti and Jog were accorded elaborate treatment in the conventional way, each beginning with the conventional movements in alap, jod and jhala, followed by gat compositions in vilambit and drut tempi. The rest of the themes were much briefer, but nonetheless neat and streamlined.

The recital, as a whole, was the very epitome of talent and imagination. But there wwere no frivolous or volatile embellishments to please the gallery – a sin that besets the approach of several executants of Shamim’s generation.

Even so, I give my palm specially to his opening Jaijaiwanti for its extremely sensitive content and the kind of tranquil grace that marked it. His command over the intricacies of taal was resoundingly brought home in the Hamir gat which he set to race and difficult rhythmic cycle of nine mantras known as matta-taal. In all his raga offerings he showed a keen awareness of the right emphasis of vadi and samvadi swaras, as also other phrases and sequences which characterise the model identity of the chosen theme.

Young Nayan Ghosh, talented son and disciple of the veteran Nikhil Ghosh, lent ideal sangat on the tabla. During the interval, Mr Bana Paranjape, the ntoed authority in the world of banking and president of the Cultural Centre, explained the significance of the International Music Day. He said that music had the power to bind the human race in a way where that could eventually generate and foster the spirit of universal brotherhood.

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