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Goswami Tulsidas at Advaniji’s Residence
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Advaniji applauding the performance of Shri Shekhar Sen

 

 Noted theatre artiste and singer Shri Shekhar Sen performed his famous play Goswami Tulsidas to a private audience of over 300 people at the residence of Shri L K Advani, on Tuesday, 16 December.

Sen (http://www.shekharsen.com) is a multi-talented and visionary artiste who has combined the roles of playwright, director, actor, lyricist and singer to create a new genre of monoact musical plays. Sen’s uniqueness lays not only in form but also content: he has constantly dipped into the vast reservoir that is Indian culture to come up with gems of artistic creations that are rooted in our heritage and yet have a relevance to the present. Goswami Tulsidas (1998) was his first act. This was followed by Kabeer and Vivekanand.

 Born to musicologist parents, Dr Arun Kumar Sen & Dr Aneeta Sen of the Gwalior Gharana, in the town of Raipur, Chattisgarh, Shekhar Sen established his own identity as a singer of medieval poets like Raskhan, Raheem, Lalitkishori, and Bhooshan Bihari, early on in life. He has, to his credit, more than 1000 ‘live’ shows and released more than 165 cassettes & CD’s. He even sang playback in the famous television serial Ramayan.

 

Goswami Tulsidas (1532-1623), named Ram Bola at birth, was born in the present day Banda District of Uttar Pradesh, during the reign of Humayun, to Brahmin parents Hulsi and Atmaram Dubey. He was abandoned by his parents immediately after his birth, and was brought up by a lower caste couple. At the age of 5 he was handed over to a sadhu named Naranari Das, with whom he travelled all over north India visiting holy places. As he grew up, he set up base at Ayodhya and then at Benaras and, on divine inspiration, set about writing the Ramcharit Manas, a version of Valmiki’s Ramayana, in Hindi, aimed at popularising its message among the common people. Today the Ramcharit Manas is the third largest selling book in the world, after the Bible and the Quran.

 In Goswami Tulsidas, Sen traces the life of the saint from boyhood to his old age using the artistic device of monologue and peppering it with recitations from the Ramcharit Manas and the Hanuman Chalisa. Sen’s genius lay in coming up with a compelling script and seamless mobility from one role to another: sometime speaking as Bajrang Bali, sometimes as child; sometimes as wife Ratnavali, sometimes as the opposing pundits of Benaras. As Advaniji stated in his welcome: Sen’s art is unique.


 The play was enjoyed by a large number of MPs—from the BJP, the NDA and other parties—media people, and some distinguished guests like the Chief Ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh: Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Shri Raman Singh respectively. Advaniji very nicely captured the mood of the audience in his concluding remarks: “Shekharji spoke about tears swelling up in the eyes of Goswami Tulsidas. His beautiful portrayal of the life of the saint has definitely touched me enough for tears to swell in my eyes.”

 
 

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