By Surender Bhutani
The profile of Poland has gone up by many notches as a cultural destination for Indian artists. After Bollywood films and translations of Urdu masters into Polish language, Pandit Hari Prasad Chaursia, one of the doyens of Indian classical music maestro, enthralled the Polish crowd in three cities - Wroclaw, Krakow and Warsaw.
In all these places, Chaursia won the hearts of the audience with his spell-binding flute recitals.
"He creates magic with his flute and we simply feel enchanted with his performance. It was once in a lifetime event and so memorable that we would love to remember him for a long time to come," Janusz Krzyzowski, president of the India-Poland Cultural Committee in Warsaw said.
Chaurasia was jointly sponsored by the Pandit Chaturlal Memorial Society of New Delhi along with its sponsors the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and the Embassy of India. They had persuaded Chaurisia to give concerts in Poland to mark the annual Chatur Lal Music Festival. He was accompanied by Snehgunshu Banerji on the tabla.
Pandit Chatur Lal was regarded as a tabla wizard in his days when he used to play with Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and other great artists not only in India but also in western countries.
Yehudi Menuhin, a great violinist, once said: "Chatur Lal was one of those few supreme pioneer musicians who won for India the greatest and growing following it now commands. He stole the hearts of his audience wherever he went with his art and his enchanting personality."
Unfortunately, Chatur Lal died at a young age of 40 in October 1965. After his death, a memorial society was established, and since then the society organises its main function on his birthday.
On his 86th birth anniversary, the admirers of Indian classical music in Poland had a feast of functions, named "Smritiyan".
In each of the three cities, there was a local body to sponsor the event. In Warsaw, the Indo-Polish Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IPCCI) under the patronage of J.J. Singh agreed to foot the bill. Similarly, the India-Polish Cultural Committee (IPCC) in Krakow provided the local hospitality.
"We are really indebted to ICCR for selecting Krakow, the cultural capital of Poland, as a venue for one of its programmes. The love for Indian classical music for Krakowians is an established fact and many classical dancers and musicians have been coming to this city in the past fifteen years. We eagerly awaited for Chaurasia's concert and he obliged us," Umesh Nautial, president of the IPCC, Krakow branch said.
In Wroclaw, a fast emerging metropolis because of its proximity to Germany, the Embassy of India along with Wroclaw University organised the function. It was for the first time that the citizens of Wroclaw had a chance to listen to Chaurasia's magical flute.
"The attraction of Poland for the Indian artists has grown very fast and now many big artists want to come to Poland to give their performances. There is an absolute necessity to have an Indian Cultural Centre like we have the Nehru Centre in London where I was the director for four years,"Monika Kapila Mohta, Indian ambassador to Poland said.