Muzaffar Ali captivates with dance drama on Yamuna at the 5th Wajid Ali Shah Festival
The Festival promoting composite culture of Avadh and spreading the message of peace in society
Lucknow Noted film director of the classical Umrao Jaan, Anjuman, Aagaman and Gaman fame, MuzaffarAli, once again delighted the audience at the 5th annual Wajid Ali Shah Festival organized by the Rumi Foundation, Lucknow Chapter in collaboration with the U P Tourism, Government of Uttar Pradesh
Held at the sprawling Dilkusha Palace Lucknow the Kathak ballet Yamuna-Dariya Prem ka has been conceived and directed by Muzaffar Ali.
Speaking to TIO on the unique theme of the festival this year, MuzaffarAli said, “Yamuna was an essential part of the life of noted Sufi poet Amir Khusrau’s life as Khusrau was a part of Yamuna’s. The river flowed and Khusrau contemplated on its banks on its changing rhythms. She gave him words to craft beauty. The beauty of the Beloved.”
“Khusrau’s message transcended religious boundaries,” says Ali, “He heard the bells of his cows and was moved to tears as images from the life of Krishna were brought back with that sound. . He saw the Rasleela of Krishna and dalliance with the Gopis on its river banks. He heard the flute from the soul of Radha in its myriads shades of light and darkness, in different ‘Ragas’ and ‘Bandishes’ and words began to find meaning in every passing season and age.”
I see the river Yamuna was the timekeeper of our history and Khusrau an iconic milestone. Thus the Kathak ballet ‘Yamuna – Darya Prem Ka’ is the reflection of Yamuna’s feeling in composition of her ‘lovers’. The Sufis who have lived by river and felt it flow in their veins and seen Krishna from her timeless position,” he averred.
There is a sense of timelessness about the river, as it has meandered through India’s capital city, witnessing glorious past, a colonized future and the present. It also flows by the Taj Mahal, and has seen the monument grow and become an iconic symbol of eternal love. When time has flown by only Yamuna remains to remind you of the timelessness of the human soul, the basis of mythology. And this realization that is the call of the eternal flute. The call to action.”
True to that, all who attended the show returned with a private, personal, intimate feeling of the river’s message and a prayer for her eternal beauty and purity to last the tests of time.
Scripted by Deepa Gupta and choreographed by Astha Dixit the hour-long ballet depicted the Yamuna River and its changing rhythms, the Rasleela of Krishna and dalliance with the Gopis which gave Amir Khusrau words to craft the spiritual beauty of the Beloved.
Smita Bellur, India’s first female Hindustani vocalist to have been accepted into a lineage of traditional qawwals and to have received extensive guidance from them, sparked up the second part of the show with her mellifluous voice. Her mastery of Bhakti and Sufi traditions were there for all to appreciate mostly due to her deep engagement with mysticism and her exhaustive training in the Khayal form of Hindustani classical music.
The Rumi Foundation, is a non-profit charitable society, set up as a national body in New Delhi in 2004 with Dr Karan Singh as its Chairman and Muzaffar Ali as the Secretary and Executive Director to present an all-embracing face of Sufism and spread the message of love, compassion and surrender in India and beyond. It promotes the Sufi heritage and projects a global humanistic outlook which is so necessary in the turbulent times we live in.
In addition to its many events and initiatives, the Foundation has been presenting Jahan e Khusrau, an annual International Sufi Music festival at Delhi’s Humayun Tomb campus followed by Jaipur, Lucknow, Patna, Srinagar, Boston & London. The Foundation’s Patrons include Prince Al Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, Mrs. Esin Chelebi, 22nd generation granddaughter of Jalaluddin Rumi from Turkey and Lord Khalid Hameed of Hampstead, England.
The first chapter of Rumi Foundation outside Delhi was set up in Lucknow in 2010.The Foundation is committed to the promotion of composite culture and communication arts through festivals, symposiums, publications and films. The Foundation’s flagship event in Lucknow has been the annual Wajid Ali Shah Festival which was established in December 2013 and is supported by U. P. Tourism along with some corporate sponsors.
Nawab Wajid Ali Shah was a rare ruler who was a connoisseur of the arts as well as a creative artiste. In his time every kind of performing art flourished and the creative spirit of the people flowered, when craft balanced the life and aesthetics of the user and the maker.
Over the last five years the festival has been instrumental in promoting composite culture of Avadh and spreading the message of peace in society, besides promoting talent in various aspects of traditional dance and music.