Culture enthusiasts have probably seen Kathak maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj dance at concerts in the city. But this weekend, at a festival of Indian classical music, they will have a rare opportunity to hear him sing classical thumris.
Maharaj’s vocal performance will be the finale of Bandish, a three-day annual festival organised by the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) to celebrate legendary Indian composers.
The fourth edition of the festival will be held from Friday, July 12, to Sunday, July, 14 at the NCPA’s Tata Theatre.
“In classical music, a bandish is a composition that amalgamates musical notes, rhythm and lyrics,” says Suvarnalata Rao, programming head for Indian music at the NCPA and curator of the festival. “Ghazals originated as pure poetry, but we have included them too in the festival this year.”
Bandish will open with ghazal singer Talat Aziz singing the verses of Urdu poets Mirza Ghalib and Faiz Ahmed Faiz. “Every genre has its charm and temperament and it is good to see that ghazals have been introduced in the festival,” says Aziz.
Other artistes performing at Bandish include Hindustan vocalists Malini Rajurkar and Ulhas Kashalkar, paying tribute to composers Shrikrishna Ratanjankar and Vilayat Khan respectively, and vocalist Kaushik Chakrabarty, singing the thumris of brothers Barkat Ali Khan and Bade Ghulam Ali Khan.
Finally, Birju Maharaj will present the thumris of his grandfather legendary composer Bindadin Maharaj. “Not many people are aware that, besides being a Kathak dancer, Maharaj can also sing,” says Rao.