‘Qawwali nahi chalegi’: Kathak dancer says performance stopped

“I thought it was a technical glitch,” Chaturvedi, speaking from Hyderabad, said Friday. It wasn’t. She realised it in minutes when she was still sitting on the stage and the next act was announced. UP officials say it was cut short due to time constraint

Delhi-based Kathak dancer Manjari Chaturvedi was performing at the 7th Conference of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association-India Region, in Lucknow Wednesday, when the music paused midway. She was presenting a Sufi Kathak performance titled ‘Colours of Love’ to the popular qawwali, Aisa banna sanwarna mubarak tumhein, often sung by Pakistani qawwal Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

“I thought it was a technical glitch,” Chaturvedi, speaking from Hyderabad, said Friday. It wasn’t. She realised it in minutes when she was still sitting on the stage and the next act was announced.

She said officers of the event, organised by the Culture Department of the UP government, rushed to the front row, and said “Qawwali nahi chalegi, stage par qawwali nahi hogi.” The qawwali had followed a piece on Radha-Krishna, and a short one on Gauhar Jaan — the first recording artiste in the country.

Chaturvedi said she soon grabbed a microphone and said, “In a career spanning 25 years and performances in 35 countries, my show has never been stopped or I have never been removed from the stage. I will continue to talk of the Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb through my dance.”

She was in the last leg of her 45-minute performance when the plug was pulled on her performance. “I was shocked,” said Chaturvedi, who found out from her technician later that officials came to him and pulled the plug on her performance despite his repeated pleas that there were only a few minutes left for the end of the performance.

Hriday Narayan Dikshit, Speaker of the UP Assembly, was seated in the front row.

Officials, who did not wish to be named, said religion or the form of music had nothing to with the programme being cut short. It was stopped due to time constraints, they said.

Two cultural affairs officers, Chaturvedi said, later came to her backstage and said, “this shouldn’t have happened. But you handled it with a lot of shaleenta (decency).”

Senior officers called her the next day and said it was not their intention and invited her for a programme during UP Diwas.

Source: The Indian Express

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