NOTED RUDRAVEENA player Pandit Asit Banerjee feels that strong steps should be taken to prevent the veena from fading into oblivion. “It is true that very few people are playing veena today, which is really very unfortunate”, he told the Hindustan Times.
Conceding that the cost of veena was high (from Rs 30,000 to Rs 50,000), he said, “I have asked some persons in Jaipur and Lucknow to make the instrument at a low price. I have just taken over at the Ramkrishna Mission in Gwalior and have enunciated some steps for the revival of the instrument including the establishment of a Guru-Shishya Parampara (teacher-disciple tradition). My main objective is to revive the glory of veena and dhrupad”.
“While veena is traditionally known as the mother of music, dhrupad is known as the father. It is really lamentable that both have been relegated, he said, adding, “While the cost of the instrument is high, the main reason for the unpopularity of veena is the lack of Ustad or Guru to teach the instrument. The government should outline measures to give scholarships to talented students and also open Gurukul.”
Reminiscing his association with his Guru Ustad Zia Mohiuddin Dagar, he said, “Bade Ustad was one of the stalwarts of Dhrupad tradition in the post-independence India. I hail from Dhanbad and as a young child used to play tabla while my sisters would sing.
Despite having trained in tabla, I had a strong penchant to learn veena. As an eighteen-year-old in 1964, I went all the way from Kolkata to Mumbai. After a lot of hunting around I found Dagarji’s house and told him about my desire to learn the instrument. At that time there was no student for learning veena.
I started my riyaz and after several years of rigorous practice returned to Kolkata in 1978 and started giving programmes. My stay with Bade Ustad and his younger brother Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar (Chhote Ustad) was a turning point of my life.”
Panditji gave an enthralling performance at Bharat Bhavan on Wednesday as part of the ‘Aaspas’ series. He started with Rag Puriya Kalyan. The Bandish was in Choutal and pakhawaj accompanist was Akhilesh Gundecha. He then took out Rag Malkosh, the bandish again in Choutal.