Independent, feisty: That’s Gauhar Jaan in Jaipur

Jaipurites would soon be transported to the world of India’s earliest superstars.

The play, My Name is Gauhar Jaan, directed by Lillette Dubey, would be staged tomorrow at Maharana Pratap Auditorium.

Based on Vikram Sampath’s book – My Name is Gauhar Jaan it deals with the extraordinary story of an independent, courageous, talented woman who lived a life that was unthinkable for a woman in her times – at the turn of the 20th century.

Gauhar was the first woman from this part of the world to sing in a long playing record in more than 20 languages. Her vast repertoire of Hindustani Classical music ranged from light classical forms like thumri, dadra, kajri, hori, chaiti and bhajans to pure classical forms like khayal and dhrupad. She sang more than 600 songs and her signature style was announcing her name in English – ‘My name is Gauhar Jaan’ at the end of her renditions on record.

Director Lillette Dubey says that she was fascinated by this classical superstar – ‘feisty, independent-minded woman who was way ahead of her times….whose face was emblazoned on postcards and matchboxes as far as Europe. But who was hardly known today, in spite of her compositions being sung prolifically around the world even now! Hers was a story that had to be told.’

Lillette also adds ‘We have completed 20 house full shows with it across India, and we are keenly looking forward to bringing it to Jaipur, which with its rich cultural heritage and strong musical tradition, has always been enormously appreciative of our work. And I’m sure this time too, they will embrace this play, which is imbued with the spirit of this
great artist’s music and soul.’

The playwright Mahesh Dattani says, ‘I am absolutely thrilled that Gauhar is performing in Jaipur. Gauhar Jaan was a maverick who took the music world by storm and reached out to millions at a time when only a privileged few had access to the music rooms of tawaifs. With sound recording, Gauhar Jaan became a household name. She is indeed the first mass media superstar of India.’

Rajeshwari Sachdev essaying the role of Gauhar is herself excited. She says I feel great to perform in Jaipur. People are culturally aware. Great audience, Gauhar is special as I will be playing in a drama after 10 years in Jaipur.’

The play will be staged by Prabha Khaitan Foundation and presented by Shree Cement on September 10, 2016 at Maharana Pratap Auditorium.

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