Given a chance to be in Delhi, I would find myself heading to a concert or performance in the evenings. I was at a meeting that got over at five in the evening and I had a choice of either going to shoot one more contemporary dance performance of Ignite festival or head to where Indira was keen on going though I was very reluctant to go – Shaam-e-Abida Parveen. I have not heard her live, yet was not inclined, as I knew that the arena will be packed and it is no fun going to such a place.
Yet, I got into the metro and headed to central secretariat, walked along the boulevard towards IGNCA. My fears came true, when I saw all roads heading into the area packed with cars. Thanks for being on foot, I managed to get into the arena easily though crowd was surging. I found a place for myself, to lean against a huge tree, a good hundred feet away. Placing my laptop bag between my feet, took out my camera along with the monopod, all set to shoot.
The occasion was annual day of Indian women journalists association and the event management company made fool of the crowd, to the utter surprise of even the IWJA, had two young tyros singing hindi movie songs for an hour. It was followed by a Kathak performance of Geetanjali Lal’s troupe from Kathak Kendra. The crowd was eagerly waiting for Abida ji. While the Kathak was on, one another gentleman came and stood next to me, smiled and then unleashed his cam and set his monopod. We were smiling and sharing the same angst, while I recognized a very familiar face, that of jayanti, and I accosted her. She was shocked and could not recognize me. I shared a few instances about our neighbouring office cabins at our SONY CORP office in Mumbai fifteen years ago, to help her find moorings. To my surprise the gentleman with cam next to me turned out to be Jayanti’s worse half, Prasad!!
As Kathak was progressing, we, Prasad and me, slowly moved towards the stage wading through the resurgent crowds. Our Cameras were our passports to the stage!! Bingo, in a few minutes we were on stage, standing next to Abida ji’s chair who was waiting for the ‘kitsch’ performances to end. I experienced her humility,patience and soft spoken behaviour. It was a wonderful moment.
The high and mighty from Delhi had descended and occupied the front seats. I was very surprised to see the demure, coy lady of a few words transform herself into an exuberant one on stage in no time. It was an evening of peppy yet intense, sonorous yet mellifluous voice that kept the electrifying arena, thunderous yet silent…..Abida Parveen, with wild looks but very soft and calm demeanor off-stage, won many hearts at IGNCA, Delhi!! Next couple of hours was all about ‘Gao, Jhumo, bhajo and natcho’ with her renditions of Amir Khusro, Bulleshah …
Catch the varied moods captured! Very fortunate to have been a few feet away from her through out the concert… Thanks to the Camera!!