The magic of sitar and the lure of tabla
KARACHI: The sitar-tabla combination conjures up magic if both instruments are played with complete abandon because only then the souls of the two merge to form a beautiful body. The element of improvisation therefore assumes significance and the musicians who can improvise well can handle their instruments masterfully.
This was felt at a concert titled The Magic of Sitar featuring Ustad Sajid Hussain at T2F on Sunday evening. The ustad was accompanied by Yousuf Kerai on tabla.
The show started with Sajid Hussain’s 12-year-old son Shahzad Hussain’s sitar recital. He performed raga aiman. The young man should be praised for his effort because he looked a tad jittery in the beginning but settled in as his fingers warmed up to the task. He did a reasonable job since at such a tender age missing a note or two does not matter. What matters is the overall impact of the raga, and Shahzad did well on that count. When he rounded off his stint, he received a thunderous applause from the audience who had turned up in decent numbers.
Sajid Hussain then joined Yousuf Kerai and told the audience that he would be playing raga darbari. He said the raga had a different name but it acquired fame in Mughal Emperor Akbar’s court, and was played with such frequency that people began calling it darbari. Sajid Hussain was a little circumspect as he touched the first note. Perhaps he wanted to create the note-perfect feel of the raga, which according to him, signified the pomp associated with the royal court. As he moved on in the performance, captured the mood of the raga and the attention of the audience. The charm of the recital was enhanced when he played bits from a few bandishein composed in the raga, such as the famous Parveen Shakir ghazal ‘Ku ba ku phael gaee …’ sung by the legendary Mehdi Hasan.
In his second piece, Sajid Hussain played some known (shortened) compositions such as ‘Najar laage tori …’ and ‘Lagi re to se…’. Yousuf Kerai ably supported the ustad and played with the kind of dexterity that’s required for the job. He also kept the audience informed on the different beats which were used during the recital. For example, when Sajid Hussain played the darbari raga, Kerai explained to the audience the difference between teen taal (16-beat cycle) and ek taal (the beat that’s played in one go).
The audience, which comprised the young and the not-so-young alike, thoroughly appreciated the two musicians’ performance.