Yesterday, I was the chosen one as I got an opportunity to see legends like Pt. Birju Maharaj, Ustad Zakir Hussain, and Amitabh Bachchan together. I experienced a beautiful jugalbandi between ghungroos of 79 year old Kathak wizard Pt. Birju Maharaj and tabla of forever young Ustad Zakir Hussain.
I learnt some lessons for a lifetime.
Humility is a choice, the most worthy one: When Ustad Zakir Hussain entered, Pt. Birju Maharaj had already come. Zakir sahib straightaway went and did Sashtang Pranam in his feet before taking his seat beside him. When both masters reached the stage, Ustad Zakir Hussain commented in an honest, childlike way, “I am not performing today, I am playing in Sewa of Maharaj ji”.
Humility is a choice that legends like Ustad Zakir Hussain make each time they interact with anyone.
Life Long Learning is a way of Life: When I introduced my daughter to Hussain Sahib, I said, “She is learning Classical music”.
He smiling looked at her, “Oh! Even I am learning music. What a coincidence.”
He gave her a high before blessing her.
If he is a student of music, what are we harping about our expertise?
Passion is the fuel for fulfilling life: Pandit Birju Maharaj was walking cautiously with a stick off stage. When he reached on stage, we expected him to do a symbolic 4-5 minutes performance.
He danced with deep poetic grace and electrifying footwork for around an hour. His passion surpassed his physical concerns and he mesmerized everyone with his awe inspiring performance.
Excellence is a zero option philosophy: Both the maestros were meeting each other after years. It simply meant that they had neither rehearsed nor performed together in near past.
Without any pre practice, their synchronized and effortless performance was pitch perfect. Each ‘thaap’ on the tabla and each ‘khanak’ of the ghungroo were in unison. They listened to each other intently and followed each other.
When Pandit ji explained a taal or gat, Ustab Zakir Hussain listened and then played to perfection. When Zakir Hussain got into his musical crescendo, Pandit ji tapped with grace. Their individual mastery over their craft led to a harmonious act together without any upmanship. There is no alternative to excellence in whatever we do.
Hold on to yourself: In the middle of a sea of talent, I learnt a big lesson from the host of the event, Shailesh Lodha. Though he is my husband, I am generally his worst critique.
However, his poetic words and anecdotal lines kept everyone hooked during the four hour long event. His eloquence and sense of timing won him blessings from everyone including the three stalwarts of art – Pt. Birju Maharaj, Ustab Zakir Hussain, and Mr. Amitabh Bachchan.
He held on to his belief in graceful humour, poetry and pathos among these doyens and contributed immensely to the success of the show. (I don’t want him to read this, though).
May these stalwarts stay around to bless our lives with their unending creativity and authenticity!