In the time span of two weeks I had opportunities to listen to two famous musicians of India. Both of them play Sitar, one of the most delicate instruments in Indian Classical Music. I had listened to Ustaad Shujaat Hussain Khan Live twice in Pune. Niladri Kumar was quite new to me. Pt. Niladri Kumar was going to be accompanied by Ustaad Zakir Hussain, the great Tabla player today. I was quite curious about performance of Pt. Niladri Kumar.
The good part was, 2 weeks ago, Ustaad Shujaat Hussain Khan started his concert with Raga Shuddha Kalyan and Pt. Niladri Kumar too, (un)fortunately chosen same Raga shuddha kalyan to open up his performance. I generally do not like to do comparison; especially, I never compare artists because everyone has something special, something unique. I am not writing this article to criticize Pt. Niladri Kumar, but to feel the greatness of Shujaat Hussain Khan.
In case of Shujaat Hussain Khan, his first stroke steals away your heart. His strokes are so perfect, so natural, that you just cannot sustain it. I can remember the impact of his first stroke even now; it was so vibrant. I did not find this get up in the performance of Pt. Niladri Kumar. Raga Shuddha Kalyan has a very attractive personality. When played by a maestro, this Raga can make someone go mad with the ecstasy. Shuddha kalyan played by Ustaad Shujaat Hussain Khan had this ecstasy from start to the end. I could not find it in the entire performance of Pt. Niladri Kumar.
One thing which I would like to clarify is, this has nothing to with the skills of the artist. Pt. Niladri Kumar is famous for his fast and skilled performance. Ustaad Shujaat Hussain Khan, is equally skilled, but his performance has a fragrance which I consider more important than skill. Artist should have something, some experience to express through his performance. Performance of Shujaat Hussain Khan is full of this expression.
Ustaad Shujaat Hussain Khan is very humble person. At the end, when people were still clapping, Shujaat Ji said in a shaky voice that he does not deserve this respect that he cannot play even a fraction of what his Guru and father Ustaad Vilayat Khan used to play.
Ustaad Shujaat Hussain Khan will be performing in Pune in Swarjhankar Music Festival in January 2013. Waiting to see him, feel his Sitar and getting carried away in his divine notes…..