RARELY DOES a classical musician play to a stadium packed to capacity and hold a predominantly youthful audience in thrall.
But then every serious artiste does not have the kind of charisma and mastery of his art, which Zakir Hussain has. Though an ‘ustad’, yet he prefers to remain just a disciple.
A brilliant student of music and acting, Zakir appeared on the stage at Abhay Prashal on the eve of Republic Day with the humility of a ‘shagird’ (student).
It’s not that it was his first appearance in the City. He has performed here in his preteens and later as a renowned accompanist with Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma and Pt Hariprasad Chourasia. This time too he appealed to his young admirers. His easy going manners, quick wit and stage presence—packed a punch in his tabla.
Assessing the mood of the audience that paid him a standing ovation even before he began his wizardry with the tabla and did not disappoint his fans.
Bypassing the technicalities of beats and counts, he explained the classical compositions in a language, which even an uninitiated could understand.
The audience was amazed when he reproduced the reverberating roar of a thunderstorm, the pitter-patter of rain and the sound of a moving train on his tabla.
Zakir Hussein’s nimble fingers never ceased to amaze the audience throughout the evening.
But the more discerning listeners wished they had rather stayed out, savouring the lingering memories of some of his earlier concerts. Tabla is after all an instrument, which is not very often used for solo music and when it takes the centre stage it has to resort to some kind of gimmickry.
Because of his star status, soon Zakir Hussain will be redundant as a good accompanist. Now he no longer shares the dais with any other musician except Shiv Kumar Sharma and Hariprasad, not even Pt Ravi Shankar. No new artists, the brilliant ones, in their right frame of mind would do so.