Lucknow fest celebrates Wajid Ali Shah's artistic brilliance

Lucknow: The fourth annual Wajid Ali Shah Festival celebrated the magic of the artistic brilliance of the last nawab of Awadh here.

The Rumi Foundation's fest was held at the Dilkusha Palace here on Valentine's Day and Uttar Pradesh Tourism Day on Tuesday.

The approximately two-hour long fest presented a dance ballet, "Rang" that offered a tribute to the classical dance form, Kathak, and to the light classical musical form, Thumri -- patronised by Wajid Ali Shah.

The festival was inaugurated by Governor of Uttar Pradesh Ram Naik, who also took the opportunity to urge locals to give their vote to their choice of political leader.

After thanking the organisers, he sat down to watch "Rang", under Muzaffar Ali's direction.

The dance ballet was inspired by Kathak and Thumri compositions of Wajid Ali Shah.

But why a festival on him?

"This country is going through some kind of a strange disconnect...socially and culturally. I've noticed that there is a lack of harmony in the society," Muzaffar Ali told IANS here.

"Wajid Ali Shah was a man who didn't see differences. But the biggest thing about him was that he was an artiste and he was even a bigger patron of the arts," he added.

About 2,000 fest attendees got to see Shah's "artistic bend of mind".

"Since he was deposed, he went through that anguish of being deposed and leaving his hometown...his city which he had built so lovingly.

"So that angst gave even more poignancy to his poetry. It gave a huge emotional content," Ali said.

Muzaffar Ali said Shah's losses were "monumental".

"His losses were not just material, but hugely emotional. He was involved with land garden and didn't want bloodshed here.

"When he goes through that anguish, the outpour is also creative. He also embraced cultures. He embraced the whole ethos of (lord) Krishna. So, these kind of things made him endearing to people. That is what needs to be known and shared," added Muzaffar Ali.

Artistes like Thumri singer Barnali Chattopadhya, Qawwali singer Haider Buksh and group, Kathak dancers Anuj and Neha Mishra and group, Odissi dancer Zia Nath and Kathak dancer Shivani Varma got together on stage for the fest.

Varma told IANS: "My first show with the team of Muzaffar Ali was in 2012. Since then, we have done many shows. The Thumris that we did today were about being separated from your beloved...can be your home too. So, Qawwali and Thumri were happening together, Odissi and Kathak was more like a dialogue between the singers and dancers."

The festival also witnessed the foundation felicitating people working in the field of promoting cultural legacy of the region of Awadh.

Those awarded were Padma Bhushan winner Kumudini Lakhia for her unparallel artistic contribution to the dance form of Kathak.

The award for Cultural Activism was conferred on noted women's rights activist and revivalist Madhavi Kuckreja.