In 2006, the Darbar Festival featured eminent vocalist Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty in two sessions. The first recital was a pure Hindustani classical presentation. However, the multi-talented Pandit Chakraborty comes with vast and authoritative experience in various semi-classical forms, naturally stacking up the audience’s expectations for this genre as well. This video features the second session of a spiritually invigorating evening in which, he performed a handful of the choicest semi-classical songs and bhajans.
He begins with ‘Saiyyan Mora Din Rajni Kaise Beetey’ - a thumri he composed during the beginning of the millennium. Set predominantly to Raag Charukeshi with vignettes of other ragas, this one stands out, perhaps because upon jogging one’s memory, very few or almost no traditional thumri based on Charukeshi, a raga of Carnatic origin, comes to recall.
Pandit Subhankar Banerjee (1966-2021), a phenomenon whom we lost to post-COVID complications in 2021, had accompanied him on the tabla. He laps the rendition with nuanced, subtle thekas, prolonging the romantic pathos of the thumri in all earnestness.
Pandit Chakraborty performs the much-anticipated, ‘Kya Karoon Sajni Aye Na Balam.’ He retains the pathos of this piece in a slower tempo delineating its core raga, Sindhu Bhairavi. He layers it with rich textures of delicate and flashy vocal embellishments in sargams and melodic extensions in different vowels, atypical of the Patiala spread. Pandit Banerjee’s strong, humbling support in Jat Taal accentuated with fervent improvisations is enrapturing.
Chiranjib Chakraborty on the harmonium is a revelation, especially in this piece where the unpredictable melodic explorations of Pandit Chakraborty lurk throughout the rendition. His replications are confident, well-anticipated and sincere to say the least. He also manages some small fillers, proving his ability to add his own to the larger design.
The Surdas bhajan, ‘Jag Me Jeevat Hi Ko Nato,’ is dedicated to the memory of Pandit Chakraborty’s father who had left for his heavenly abode just 24 days prior to this concert. Although the loss is irreconcilable, he conveys through this bhajan, his acceptance of the transient nature of the human body as opposed to its soul.
The next recital is a Ram bhajan based loosely on Raag Bihag with traces of other ragas – ‘Prem Mudit Man Se Kaho Ram Ram Naam.’ He impales the emotional boundaries of his listeners with another mellowed and heartfelt devotional piece, ‘Banke Bihari Ko Hamaro Pranam,’ - a tribute to Bhai Gurmit Singh Ji Virdee.
He concludes his recital with a shabad, ‘Kahun Geet Ke Gawaiya’ - a composition of the 10th Sikh spiritual leader, Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708). Shabads are sacred hymns from the principal Sikh holy scripture, Guru Granth Sahib that narrate spiritual and humanistic teachings.
Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty (khayal)
Chiranjib Chakraborty (harmonium)
Subhankar Banerjee (tabla)
Kaviraj Singh (tanpura)
Thumri in Mishra Charukeshi
Shabad from the Guru Granth Sahib