Indian classical musician Ustad Amjad Ali Khan looks a tad intimidating but the minute he steps onto the stage, his no-nonsense demeanour is transformed by a smile.
The famed sarod expert’s performance was a highlight in Soorya India Festival 2015 at the Civic Centre in Petaling Jaya.
The salt-and-pepper-haired maestro has earned numerous accolades including India’s second highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan, in 2001.
Guests at the festival were expecting a brilliant show from the musician, known for introducing new-yet-timeless renditions on the sarod, and they were not disappointed.
Together with his son and disciple, Ayaan Ali Khan, as well as tabla extraordinaire Satyajit Talwalkar, Ustad Amjad gave a 45-minute performance during the show held in conjunction with the Festival of India in Malaysia.
Organised by Sopaanam Arts, the official coordinator for Soorya India Festival, the show titled “Sarod and Bharatam” was held in aid of Cansurvive Centre Malaysia Berhad.
Cansurvive provides guidance and community support for cancer patients as well as their families and friends.
The night began with Ayaan and Satyajit performing a slow, rhythmic rendition which tempo gradually increased.
At one juncture, both playfully challenged each other with their respective musical instruments.
If Ayaan was playful and skilled, his father was suave and experienced.
Ustad Amjad treated guests to one of his own compositions called Ganesh Kalyan. He also provided valuable details and information on Indian classical music as well as the sarod.
“The sarod comes from a Persian word that means music and it can play all genres of music. It can entertain children with something familiar like this,” he said before launching into Jingle Bells.
All three musicians then took the stage together to perform another enthralling number, with a lot of teasing and bantering.
After the musical performance, Malaysia’s very own Shankar Kandasamy took the stage to perform an incredible bharathanatyam dance.
Shankar, the head of the Bharathanatyam faculty in Temple of Fine Arts, mesmerised the audience with his lilting movements and expressive eyes.
Beginning his repertoire with the Lord Ganapathy Taalam, he went on to showcase the beauty of the Ardhana Eshwar, a depiction of Lord Shiva and Parvati.
Shankar exuded the fierce form of Shiva and the soft, delicate movements of Goddess Parvati simultaneously, drawing admiration from the audience.
Their performances mirrored Sopaanam Arts coordinator Dr C.D Siby’s vision for the night.
In his speech, Dr Siby said India’s vibrant culture would be reflected in the night’s showcase of Indian talents.
Soorya Festival is the longest arts and cultural festival with an event happening every day in any part of the world.
It has chapters in 36 countries and is a non-profit, non-commercial, voluntary organisation with no paid staff or office building anywhere in the world.
Also present at the event in Kuala Lumpur was Indian High Commissioner T.S. Tirumurti and Westports Malaysia executive chairman Tan Sri G. Gnanalingam.
During the event, Sopaanam Arts also presented awards to individuals who had contributed to the Indian music and dance arena.
The three recipients were Samuel J. Dass, a noted sitar player, and bharathanatyam dancers Radha Gopal Shetty and Malar Gunaratnam.