Sumitra Charat Ram Award & Parikrama of Sonarpur Nadam
- Manjari Sinha
November 28, 2023
It was a joyful evening of celebration at Kamani Auditorium reverberating with the enthusiasm of family and friends on the 17th of November 2023 when Shobha Deepak Singh, the benefactor of the arts, was conferred the 'Sumitra Charat Ram Award for Lifetime Achievement - 2023'. Sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan presented her with the award in recognition of her unwavering dedication to Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra and her role as an ambassador of Indian culture, amidst thundering applause. The guest of honour Pavan K. Varma, diplomat, author, and former MP (Rajya Sabha) addressed the audience praising the octogenarian awardee in a poetic way with great warmth.
Ustad Amjad Ali Khan presents award to Shoba Deepak Singh
The 'Sumitra Charat Ram Award' for Lifetime Achievement was instituted in 2010 to honor eminent artistes who have made a lasting contribution to the field of Indian classical music and dance. Previous recipients of the award include Pt. Birju Maharaj, Kishori Amonkar, Mayadhar Raut, Kumudini Lakhia, Pt. Jasraj, Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia, Girija Devi, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Dr. Sonal Mansingh and Dr. Uma Sharma.
Presenting this year's award to Shobha Deepak Singh, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan stated, "Tonight, we honor a true legend of Indian classical music, an individual whose dedication has preserved and promoted our musical heritage. Shobhaji's impact extends beyond music, as she has championed our cultural identity worldwide. With immense pride, I present this lifetime achievement award to a true maestro."
Reciprocating the warmth and admiration Shobha Deepak Singh delivered her speech: "With a heart full of gratitude, I accept this honor, not just for myself but for the collective spirit of our nation. Our art is our soul, and I am humbled to have played a part in preserving it for the younger generation, embracing our heritage, and letting its melodies, hues, and movements ignite their passion. This award is not an end but a new beginning, a reminder of my responsibility to continue serving our nation's artistic legacy."
The award ceremony was followed by a sarod recital by Aman Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash accompanied on tabla by Satyajit Talwalkar and Anuvrat Chaudhury. The young duo played raga Lalita-Gauri, a challenging combination of ragas Lalit and Gauri. Creating the atmosphere of the raga with an introductory aalap, they played compositions in Jhaptala, Drut Ada-Chautaal, and Teental in slow, medium, and fast tempos respectively, concluding with a scintillating Jhala.
Ustad Amjad Ali Khan
Ustad Amjad Ali Khan took the stage thereafter for his solo performance. He expressed satisfaction in observing both of his sons/disciples expressing their own feelings while performing this challenging raga. He pointed out that "it's a matter of great satisfaction for a Guru that his disciples don't become his own photo-copy but evolve into individual artistes, expressing their own thoughts and feelings while adhering to the tradition."
Offering a melodious contrast after the somber Lalita-Gauri, Khan saheb opened with the romantic strains of Khamaj and played a Tagore song followed by "Ekla chalo" and the Bihu melody of Assam. He took to raga Darbari thereafter on the behest of Deepak Singh. Remembering his Guru and father's stress on compositions, he offered a bouquet of beautiful compositions in this regal raga created by Miyan Tansen.
'Parikrama' celebrating 30 years of Sonarpur Nadam
Photos courtesy: Sonarpur Nadam
'Sonarpur Nadam' (Nataraja Academy of Dance & Music) Kolkata, is celebrating its 30th anniversary with 'Parikrama', a festival of dance and music. The Kolkata-based Kathak institute was established in 1993 by Sandip Mallick, an acclaimed Kathak dancer, choreographer and educator. Nadam provides comprehensive and well-structured training in various aspects of Kathak dance including theory, movements, rhythm, and expression. Sandip says, "Dance is a language of communication and Kathak is my mother tongue".
Initiated into Kathak under Guru Sreelekha Mukherjee at the tender age of four, Sandip was further groomed under gurus like Bela Arnab, Bandana Sen to Pt. Chitresh Das and Pt.Birju Maharaj. A post-graduate from Rabindra Bharati University, Sandip is an A-grade artiste of Doordarshan and an empaneled artiste of ICCR. He received a fellowship from the Ministry of Culture for his work on the 'Geometric analysis of basic movements and footwork used in Kathak'. A sought-after performer/choreographer, he has performed in major dance festivals and taught at Padatik, the Heritage school, and also as a visiting faculty at Kathak Kendra, Delhi.
Every year, Nadam organizes 'Pratishruti', a festival of Indian classical dance and music in Kolkata. 'Parikrama' celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, opened in June with Nataraja Puja, workshops and seminars at the East Zone Cultural Centre, and 'Srijan' at Ravindra Bhavan, Kolkata. The third part of 'Parikrama' was held in New Delhi on the 7th and 8th of November at the Kathak Kendra and India Habitat Center respectively. Inaugurated by Guru Geetanjali Lal at the Kathak Kendra, the inaugural evening of Parikrama featured solo, duet, and group choreographies by the dancers of Sonarpur Nadam, Samiksha Sharma, Maitree Pahari, and Vidha Lal with live orchestra comprising Utpal Ghoshal and Nishith Gangani on tabla, Jaywardhan Dadhich on vocal and harmonium, and Anil Mishra on sarangi.
The host group Sonarpur Nadam with chiselled dancers namely Sourav, Priyadarshini, Chinmoy, Arindam, Madhurima, Suchansra, Deepdas, Anvita, Anulekha, Shuvam, along with Guru Sandip Mallick, opened with Durga-Stuti "Bhavani Dayani' concluding with a traditional Paran depicting Mahishasura-Mardini freezing into its dramatic tableau. Solo by Smriti Chanda opening with a Kavitta "Thirak thirak paga dharat jaat.." set to Rupak taal, further presented the technical aspect of Kathak in Vasant Taal of nine beats cycle. Chameli Debnath, who had done her Masters from Ravindra Bharati, presented nritta in Chautala of twelve beats time cycle in slow and medium tempo. Mondira Pal, a senior student of Sandip opened with "Shantakaram..." and danced Ashtamangal Tala of eleven beats and a Thumri "Dagar chalet" with the mudra of Bindadin Maharaj.
Susanto Ghosh and Shubhradip Shaw
Dhamar Tala came as an impressive duet by Susanto Ghosh and Shubhradip Shaw, senior disciples of Sandip Mallick. Right from the Paran-Aamad "Dhatak thunga" all the compositions presented by the brilliant duo, perfectly fit in the fourteen beats time cycle of this challenging tala. Even the Gat-Nikas (usually danced in teentala of 16 matras) were danced to the Deepchandi Theka of 14 beats to fit exactly in the time cycle of Dhamar Tala. The last item 'Taalim' by Guru Sandip Mallick and his group was preceded by "Batiyan Nainan ki", a duet by students of Samiksha Sharma.
Opening with the invocatory shloka "Omkar bindu sanjatam," Taalim was a remarkable presentation dealing with the basic training of traditional Kathak. Right from cultivating the rhythmic proficiency in a meticulous way with 'Thaah, Dugun, Tigun, Chaugun, Chhaigun, Satgun and Athagun' etc, this also included an exquisite solo by Sandip himself in-between the group compositions danced by disciples. The power-packed recital of Sonarpur Nadam ended with a chakkardaar Tihai amidst thunderous applause.
Maitree Pahari's group
Vidha Lal's group
Maitree Pahari's 'Nadi' choreographed by Bhaswati Mishra and enhanced with appropriate music composed by Sharat Chandra Shrivastava, was presented with professional finesse by Shailaja Nalwade, Shilpa, Apala, Bhavana, Kanchan and Aanchal Rawat. Vidha Lal's group presented Ganesh Vandana "Gauri sutaya, Gananayakaya," followed by a Tarana in Teentala. The dancers were Anjali Munjal, Muskaan, Shruti, Sonali Vishwanathan and Anamika.
'Purnata' by Sonarpur Nadam
Ragini and Yashaswini Maharaj
Malti Shyam's group
The second evening of Parikrama held at the Stein Auditorium of Habitat Centre was inaugurated by the Chief Guest Manjushri Chatterjee. The dance performances this evening were all presented on recorded music. 'Purnata' by Sonarpur Nadam opened with the invocation "Omkara bindu" and "Aangikam bhuvanam yasya" presented as a full-fledged item by Sandip Mallick and disciples Mandira, Tanushri, Priyadarshini, and Suchandra. This was followed with a duet by Ragini and Yashaswini, the granddaughters of Pt. Birju Maharaj and daughters of Deepak Maharaj. They presented Jhapatala in slow and medium tempos and Bhajan "Meera rang raachi" sung by Pt. Birju Maharaj. The group of Sanjeet Gangani presented Dhamaar with Rahul and Hitesh Parihaar, Bhawani and Pooja.
'Gaandhari' by Mamata Maharaj, the gifted daughter and disciple of Pt. Birju Maharaj was an abhinaya based powerful presentation. 'Khayal' by Malti Shyam's disciples Ashwini, Hasti Gajjar, Gauri, Anchal, Shubhi, and Nikita was a beautifully choreographed and well rehearsed presentation on Khayal Malkauns, "Kaiso neeko lago banara" set to Teentala.
'Boond' by Sonarpur Nadam
The two-day 'Parikrama' concluded with 'Boond', a sensitive choreographic production based on the journey of a droplet of water that starts right from the pinnacle of vast mountains, speeding down with momentum and ultimately becomes steady and unrushed before merging into the perennial ocean, symbolizing the euphoric journey of our life. Thoughtfully conceived and imaginatively choreographed by Sandip Mallick, 'Boond' was presented by the Sonarpur Nadam group with music by Sunanda Mukherjee. Tanya Saxena, the young Bharatanatyam dancer, did a good job of anchoring Parikrama at both the venues.
Musicians (from left): Utpal Ghoshal, Shuvom Mallick, Sandip Mallick, Jaywardhan Dadhich, Anil Mishra
Manjari Sinha has an M.A. in Sanskrit and Music, and trained in vocal, tabla, sitar and Kathak dance. She has regular columns in national dailies as a music and dance critic.