The weekend brought some good news for those clued to culture in Chandigarh. Three luminaries from Punjab, playwright Dr Atamjit Singh, Hindustani vocalist Pandit Yash Paul and London-based gurbani (kirtan) vocalist Ustad Harbhajan Singh Namdhari, feature in the list of the 2011 Sangeet Natak Akademi Award. "I am elated with the news, but there is a pressure and expectation attached to the award, which Iím dealing with," says Singh. He was also chosen for the 2008 Sahitya Akademi Award in Punjabi language, for his play Tatti Tawi Da Sach, based on the martyrdom of the fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan Dev.

"The earlier award was well-received, but it declared that I am a theatre person, a performer. This award establishes me as a playwright. I am not only a Punjabi playwright, but an Indian playwright, and itís both a huge honour and liability," says Mohali-based Singh, who recently retired as the principal of ASSM College in Mukandpur.


3 maestros from region to get Sangeet Natak Awards by SD Sharma

3 maestros from region to get Sangeet Natak Awards 
SD Sharma

Chandigarh, January 22
Three maestros of performing arts, including Pandit Yashpaul, Dr Atamjit and Ustad Harbhajan Singh, have been chosen for the prestigious Sangeet Natak Award for 2010 from the region. The awards carrying a citation, memento, shawl and a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh will be presented to each of them by the President of India at a national-level function to be held shortly. In all, 38 maestros will get the coveted awards for excellence in their respective realms of art besides two fellowships to classical vocalist Girija Devi and danseur Nataraj Ramakrishna. Here is the brief detail of awardees from Punjab and Chandigarh.

Pandit Yashpaul "Sagun Piya" will get the award for his contribution in the Hindustani classical music. He is an innovatory genius-performing artiste of International eminence since 1952. Holding allegiance to Agra Gharana, he had received training from acclaimed gurus, including late Ustad Vilayat Hussain Khan Saheb. A proponent of the guru-shishya tradition, artistic values, purity of the ragas and compositions, he emulates his mentors but with his individualistic aesthetic approach, insight and creative ability. Decorated with Sangeet Sumeru Award, Punjab State Award and the Punjab Sangeet Natak Academy Award, the former principal of MCM DAV College and chairman of Panjab University Music Department, Pandit Yashpaul is one of the finest vocalists of his generation propagating classical vocal music in the region.

Dr Atamjit will be awarded for for his contribution to playwriting in Punajbi. An acclaimed academician, actor, playwright, author and theatre director, Dr Atamjit is a blend of many fine traits. Credit with quality work in performing arts, especially theatre, and authoring over 30 publications and editing 25 books

He has given new dimensions to Punjabi theatre. On invitation from Canada and other countries, he had staged his plays there grooming and training their actors. Recipient of many prestigious honours, including national honour of Sahitya Academy besides Punjab Sahit and Punjab Sangeet Natak Academy awards, Dr Atamjit feels recognition of his contribution has inspired him to scale new horizons of meaningful theatre and literature.

Ustad Harbhajan Singh Namdhari is being honoured for Gurbani kirtan. Recognising his exceptional talent, Sri Satguru Jagjit Singhji undertook the of training him in Gurbani sangeet. His talent was nurtured by prominent gurus and Sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan. He has inspired Gurbani aspirants, taught kirtan, classical music and performed in Thailand, Kenya, Canada, the US and the UK. As the prominent exponents of Gurbani Kirtan parampara and the senior most among the Namdhari community, he stands tall among his contemporaries.


I P Singh, TNN, Jan 26, 2011, 04.27am IST

JALANDHAR : Punjabis have bagged eight Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards in two years, including three this year, but two winners of this years - Harbhajan Singh Namdhari and Pandit Yash Paul, have remained uncelebrated though having made immense contribution to their respective fields. 

Last year five Punjabis bagged the award including Ustad Lacchman Singh Seen for tabla, Dhadhi Vilayat Khan Ragi (for ballad singing), Neeta Mohindra for acting, Kuldeep Singh for music for theatre and Kamal Arora for theatre make-up. And this year apart from Atamjit (for theatre playrighting) Harbhajan Singh Namdhari (Gurbani kirtan) and Pandit Yash Paul (Hindustani vocal music) have been selected for the awards. However even the state government showered praise only on Atamjit while leaving out Namdhari and Yash Paul. 

Of late a trend has been seen where the akademi has recognized those unacclaimed artistes also who have been quietly working for the perpetuation of their respective arts. Bhai Baldeep Singh, executive board member of the Sangeet Natak Akademi has been rooting for such accomplished but unrecognized names. 

Harbhajan Singh, 66, is one of the top exponents of Gurbani kirtan who combines it with the use of instruments of antiquity. 

While he had the privilege of training under Ustad Tara Singh, Bir Singh Namdhari and Pandit Mahadev Prasad which was followed by eight years of training by sarod maestro Ustaj 
Amjad Ali Khan, he has been focusing on propagating rare compositions from his musical repertoire that comprise rare Gurbani kirtan and dhrupad-dhamar compositions. He has also emerged as an accomplished composer. 

Pandit Yash Paul , 74, is a vocalist of Agra Gharana of Hindustani classical music. Apart from training under Pt. Kasturi Lal Jassara he also learnt under the guidance of late Ustad Vilayat Hussain Khan and late Ustad Yunus Hussain Khan. He is considered among the finest vocalists of his generation.He has received many awards and honours including Sangeet Sumeru Award, besides Punjab State Award and Punjab Sangeet Natak Academy Award.