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Interview with Durga Jasraj

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Being fortunate to be the daughter of the legendary Classical Vocalist of Mewati Gharana Sangeet Marthand Pt. Jasrajji and being the Grand Daughter of V. Shantaramji the legendary filmmaker and the wizard of the Indian Cinema, Durga Jasraj was not even aware of her grooming, as it just happened in a very natural way, as it could be.

Durga Shares her experiences in life, her lessons learned and how she has now taken up to the cause of promoting Indian arts with her initiative Art & Artiste to which she is the Founder. Here is a peep into her life’s creative journey, which she unveiled in an exciting conversation with Loudest.

Talking about her experiences living with two legends Durga said, “You cannot imagine what my exposure level is, because they both were self-made and display an extreme will-power never to give up, were self -motivated and were never dependent on anyone to create their destiny. All they achieved was a result of their sheer grit to fight all circumstances and come up winning on their own, and these were the lessons of life that I learned from them.

“I think at an early age the Gurumantra that I received from my parents and my grandfather was that If you have come to this world you have to pay back and contribute to making this world a better place.”

Talking about her initiative Art & Artiste, Durga Said, “Going back to the kind of lineage I have, to sum it up, its all about art and the creative world. So my projects have been created when I felt a need and a pain in my heart and I said no, it has to be done, as its said necessity is the mother of invention. Many of the projects today are for more than a decade old and still running, and many are coming up. Other than the ‘8 Prahar’, ‘Jalsa’and ‘Panchatatva’.”

Art & Artiste is a music production house and a digital music company which does recordings and live events and have done hundreds of albums of classical music, spiritual music and different genres of music. It is a facebook Partnered company and has done thousands of Ringtones and have our Youtube Channel and owns several IPs like Panchatantra, Tiranga, Jalsa, 8 Prahar,” added Jasraj.

Talking about the 8 Prahar Concerts, “Actually this was bothering me for over ten years to bring forth the unheard ragas of Hindustani classical music repertoire sung across the day, so we came up with the concept of 8 Prahar concerts a 24-hour concert based on the time cycle of the Hindustani classical music, which is now in its 5th year. It brings an opportunity to the artists to present a vast repertoire of the ragas of Indian classical music. These are sung at different hours of the day starting from morning, afternoon, evening, night and dawn completing the full cycle and we had audiences sitting from the morning at 6 o’clock till 4.30 the next morning, who travelled from across the world to attend it. So each artist had to come up with a list of 10 ragas in each time frame, and as producers, we designed it so that the maximum number of different unheard ragas were presented.”

Talking about the concept ‘Panchatatva‘ which is based on the environment and the five elements of nature, Durga said, “I tried to understand the five elements of nature, went back to Rig Veda to find which element came first and says that first came Aakash (Space), and then came the wind, and there is a sequence. So there are Slokes from Rigveda performed by 12 classical musicians like Bapuji Pt.Jasrajji perform the ‘Earth’ while legendary flautist, Pt.Hari Prasad Chaurasia has played the ‘wind’ and it goes after the other.”

So my partner Neeraj Jaitley selected a 40 member team from the best of the film industry visual effect and animation specialist of Bahubali, 3 Idiots, Bhutnath fame, who has created visuals to complement the sound of classical music, which is showcased on huge LED screens. So when someone is performing for the wind, imagine how to visualize wind because it’s invisible, but you have to show it. Then there are sound and light effects, poetry and music and so its a production of another kind. Panchatatva was the first musical to be presented by the king of Oman and royal opera house Muscat, and it was recommended by Lata Mangeshkarji, which puts India at the highest place, and it was seen the royalty honoured us.

So what is the way ahead to create an attraction for Indian Classical music, Durga Said, “We don’t care to create an attraction, it is a performing art, and we need to keep in mind that the audience is liking it from the very first look, art comes later. So the classical artists need to look good on the stage because first, the audience looks at you and then listen to you. So if you want people to come to your concert, remember that you are also being seen.

Talking about OTT platforms of today, Jasraj Said, “Actually today I own more content than any OTT platform would have, and so I am in a double mind to partner with an OTT or be an OTT myself because I own the content and so I don’t have to pay to another party. So the difference between OTTs and us is that they are aggregators, but we have our content which we produce and have all rights.”

So how about launching an OTT, and pat came to her reply, “Well launching an OTT depends on how we prioritize because it requires a major a chunk of funding, it depends if we decide to go to villages to record and restore the folk music of India or to invest crores in creating mega-productions like Panchatantra.”

Jasraj is talking about her session, ‘The Lost Genres In The Indian Music Landscape’ at Music Inc. 2.0. Day 1, Durga said, “The key take away points were that I met many people who were positively thinking of contributing to this the sector. So it’s nice to have a different thought process because everybody was doing things differently, like Abhinav Agrawal on the panel, who is doing a great job, coming from UP and not having any family background in the field, but has taken up to restore folk music on his own.”

“During the discussion, I only spoke about 25000 tracks of folk music, but we also have content in 258 genres of Indian music which are already there in an HD format, which has thousands of artist. Today we have content which is more than any music label, and we are already a music label. Papon called me rich, and I felt so good as I may not be as rich money wise, but my company is rich in content, concluded Durga.

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