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Filmmaker Kiran Rao keen to explore a film on life of courtesan-turned-singer Gauhar Jaan, who cut a gramophone record in 1902

Gauhar Jaan, a courtesan-turned-singer who cut a gramophone record in 1902, is considered the pioneer of the thumri tradition in Indian classical music

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Kiran Rao, wikimedia

Mumbai, April 1, 2017: Filmmaker Kiran Rao says she is keen to explore a film on the life and times of courtesan-turned-singer Gauhar Jaan, who cut a gramophone record in 1902.

“Since a few years, I have been thinking of making a film on the life of Gauhar Jaan. I was trying to write the script as well, but now I think I should leave it for some years. But her life was so interesting and very few people know about her. I think a film made on her will be a treat for the audience,” Kiran said on the sidelines of a special screening of “Poorna” here.

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Gauhar Jaan is considered the pioneer of the thumri tradition in Indian classical music.

At the screening, Kiran praised “Poorna” and asserted that biopics are successful because they are interesting to watch.

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“Biopics are interesting. There are very few biopics which are made on living people. Most of the times, biopics are made on people who are retired or dead. Films on strong people are always interesting to watch, and that’s why biopics are so popular,” said Kiran, whose husband actor Aamir Khan featured in “Dangal” — a story inspired by wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat. (IANS)

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Mahalaya: Beginning of “Devipaksha” in Bengali Celebration of ‘Durga Puja’

“Mahalaya” is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha” and heralds the celebration of Durga Puja

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Mahalaya morning in Kolkata. Flickr
  • Mahalaya 2017 Date: 19th september.
  • On Mahalaya, people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers; which is called ‘Torpon’
  • Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted in All India Radio
  • The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent

Sept 19, 2017: Autumn is the season of the year that sees the Hindus, all geared up to celebrate some of the biggest festivals of India. The festive spirit in the Bengalis all enthused to prepare for the greatest of the festivals, the ‘Durga Puja’.

About Mahalaya:

Mahalaya is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha,” and this year it is celebrated on September 19.

Observed exactly a week before the ‘Durga Puja’, Mahalaya is the harbinger of the arrival of Goddess Durga. It is celebrated to invoke the goddess possessing supreme power! The goddess is invited to descend on earth and she is welcomed with devotional songs and holy chants of mantras. On this day, the eye is drawn in the idols of the Goddess by the artisans marking the initiation of “Devipaksha”. Mahalaya arrives and the countdown to the Durga Puja begins!

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The day of Mahalaya bears supreme significance to the Bengalis. The day is immensely important because on this day people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers. Clad in white dhotis, people offer prayers and take dips in the river while praying for their demised dear ones. The ritual is popular as “Torpon”.

Mahalaya
An idol-maker in progress of drawing the eye in the idol of the Goddess. Wikipedia

As per Hindu myth, on “Devipaksha”, the Gods and the Goddesses began their preparations to celebrate “Mahamaya” or Goddess Durga, who was brought upon by the trinity- Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara; to annihilate the fierce demon king named Mahishasura. The captivating story of the Goddess defeating the demon got popularized with the goddess being revered as “Durgatinashini” or the one who banishes all the evils and miseries of the world. The victory of the Goddess is celebrated as ‘Durga Puja’.

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Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted at dawn in All India Radio in the form of a marvelous audio montage enthralling the souls of the Bengalis. Presented with wonderful devotional music, acoustic drama, and classical songs- the program is also translated to Hindi and played for the whole pan-Indian listeners.

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Mahalaya
Birendra Krishna Bhadra (1905-1991). Wikipedia

The program is inseparable from Mahalaya and has been going on for over six decades till date. The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent! He has been a legend and the dawn of Mahalaya turns insipid without the reverberating and enchanting voice of the legendary man.

Mahalaya will keep spreading the magic and setting the vigor of the greatest festival of the Bengalis- the Durga Puja, to worship the supreme Goddess, eternally.

                 “Yaa Devi Sarbabhuteshu, Shakti Rupena Sanhsthita,

                     Namastaswai Namastaswai Namastaswai Namo Namaha.”

– by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC

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Delhi Thumri Festival 2017 to Witness the Performances of the Best Vocal Traditions in North India

A new style of Thumri, known as “Varanasi” developed in the late 19th century and it was not dependent on dance

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Delhi Thumri Festival 2017
Girija Devi performs classical and light classical music and has helped elevate the profile of thumri. Wikimedia
  • Thumri is a genre of lively semi-classical Indian music
  • The origin of Thumri is linked with Kathak, a form of classical dance
  • For the past seven years, Sahitya Kala Parishad has never failed in delivering a successful musical fare in Delhi

New Delhi, August 30, 2017: Thumri is a genre of lively semi-classical Indian music. it is regarded as one of the most significant types of music in North India after Khayal. In Thumri, a common theme is Lord Krishna’s romance with Radha, his companion, and gopis. This year, Delhi will witness the magic of Thumri in the month of September.

The Origin-

The origin of Thumri is linked with Kathak, a form of classical dance. Thumri requires delicacy, a soulful voice to deliver its actual beauty. This form has evolved due to Awadh’s Nawab Wajid Ali Shah and Sadiq Ali Khan, the musician of his court and play a big role in what thumri is today. Wajid Ali Shah was Lucknow’s governor for the period between 1847 and 1856. His reign saw the rise of architecture, music, poetry, dance, and drama. His contribution to India’s Art is a lot. However, some musicologists feel that before him, Thumri grew as a classical form after which it achieved popularity. A new style of Thumri, known as “Varanasi” developed in the late 19th century and it was not dependent on dance.

Thumri and Perspectives-

Many traditionalists opposed the blending of dance and music in this form. However, there also existed numerous classical musicians who got attracted to this form, as it has the ability to mix notes belonging to other Ragas through innovation. Due to this reason, Thumri was selected by various performers, including instrumentalists as well as singers. This gave rise to many forms of Thumri.

Even after so many years, the tradition and love for this form of music have not completely vanished. This has been made possible by Sahitya Kala Parishad, part of the Delhi government’s Department of Art, Culture, and Languages. For the past seven years, it has never failed in delivering a successful musical fare in Delhi. Shrimati Sindhu Mishra, the organizer of this fare, has not only introduces best vocal traditions in North India, but she has also motivated the singers of genre other than Thumri to give a performance on her stage.

ALSO READRagas for Preschool Children: Combining Classical Music with Fun Exercises

Some of the extremely talented, but less exposed singers who have been provided with a platform in Delhi’s Thumri festival include Banaras’ Debashish Dey, Samrat Pandit, Pandit Channulal Mishra, Pandit Ajoy Chakravorty among others.

Delhi Thumri Festival 2017-

This year this festival will be held at Kamani Auditorium in Delhi from 1-3 September. The festival will commence with the performance of Vidushi Arti Ankalikar who will be portraying the Jaipur Atrauli gayeki. This will be followed by Indrani Mukherjee. Her guru was the famous Vidushi Purnima Chaudhari, but now she learns from Banaras’ Manju Sundaram. She says he teaches in the Gurukul way of old times. The first day of the concert will be terminated by Pandit Chanulal Mishra of Banaras.

The second day will witness the performance of Indore’s Kalpana Zokarkar. She has a good musical descent which comprises of training in Ustad Rajab Ali Khan’s tradition. This will be the first platform for Kalpana and she agreed that she is excited about her staging. Ramakant Gaikwad, who is an upcoming singer portraying the Patiala Gharana Thumri, will be next. To put an end to the evening, the stage will be handed over to the well known Padmashri Smt Malini Awasthi.

On the final day, Delhi based singers Pooja Goswami and Meeta Pandit, the fifth descendant of the erudite family of Gwalior Pandit will take over the stage. The grand finale will be made memorable by the performance of Padma Vibhushan Vidushi Girija Devi.

-prepared by Harsimran Kaur of NewsGram. Twitter @Hkaur1025


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Raja Chari: Indian American Astronaut chosen by NASA

Raja Chari, an American of Indian descent, has been chosen by NASA as one of the 12 astronauts for a new space mission.

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Raja Chari. Twitter.
  • Raja Chari is an American of Indian descent chosen by NASA for the new batch of astronauts
  • Currently, he is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force
  • Chari will have to go through two years of astronaut training which begins in August

June 06, 2017: NASA has chosen 12 astronauts out of a record-breaking 18,300 applications for upcoming space missions. An American of Indian descent, Raja Chari, has successfully earned his spot in the top 12.

The astronauts were selected on the basis of expertise, education, and physical tests. This batch of 12 astronauts is the largest group selected by NASA since two decades. The group consisting of 7 men and 5 women surpassed the minimum requirements of NASA.

Born in Waterloo, Iowa, Chari graduated from Air Force Academy in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in Astronautical Engineering and Engineering Science. He went on to complete his master’s in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The astronaut is also a graduate of US Naval Test Pilot School.

Currently, Raja Chari is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force. He is the commander of 461st Flight Test Squadron and director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

After Late Kalpana Chawla, Lt. Col. Raja Chari is the second Indian American astronaut chosen by NASA.

The 12 astronauts will have to go through two years of training. Upon completion, they will be assigned their missions ranging from research at the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft by private companies, to flying on deep space missions on NASA’s Orion Spacecraft.

The US Vice-President Mike Pence visited the Johnson Space Centre in Houston to announce and congratulate the new batch. Pence also said that President Trump is “fully committed” to NASA’s missions in space.

by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2393