On Pandit Jasraj’s 92nd Birth Anniversary, his daughter Durga Jasraj launched Pandit Jasraj Cultural Foundation to honour his legacy. Inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the attempt, she says, arose from “the need to formalize his vision and all the aspirations he had for the music industry”.
Born in 1930, the legendary Indian classical vocalist shone bright among his contemporaries and evoked the admiration of people across generations. His passing away, last year on August 17, left behind a deep void in the world of Indian classical music. Nevertheless, his mastery over the art ensued that his legacy will endure for generations to come. It is to facilitate this very legacy that the foundation was set up.
Neeraj Jaitly, co-founder of the foundation says the the digital world will ensure a wider reach among audiences of various age groups. “We are making a portal and that will be developed in phases. Digital presence will help a newer age group discover his works,” he says.
This digital presence and its necessity, however, was imagined by the legend himself. “Panditji was probably one of the few legendary musicians who was never averse to the online world. He has been using skype to teach students for almost a decade. There was always a childlike curiosity in him. Openness of mind is not very common in that generation. But it is something that he had,” Jaitley recollects.
Durga Jasraj says her father used to look forward to challenges and the digital medium proved to be the perfect way to test himself. “For artistes of his stature, it is very tough to perform in a digital surrounding because they are not accustomed to that. But for him, this was exciting. He actually gave three concerts online, which will now be considered his last performances,” she fondly adds.
The late vocalist was admired immensely by PM Modi. “They had an emotional bond. Right from the time PM Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat, they knew each other,” reveals Jasraj.
This friendship, she says, evolved over the years and at the inaugural speech, the Prime Minister couldn’t hold back from recollecting their bond. “They were very fond of each other. In fact, one of his final concerts in India, before he left for the US, was at Gandhi Smriti on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s death anniversary. In fact, when Modiji became the Prime Minister in 2014, before he went to the Rashtrapati Bhavan, he actually spoke to Bapuji. That was such a beautiful gesture. Today, his address was just as warm and full of intellect,” she concludes.
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