Dhananjay Kaul Mesmerizes Houston

From left: Sangeeta Pasrija, Swapan Dhairyawan, Raja Banga, Charlie Patel, Dhananjay Kaul and Surinder Kaul.                                                                       Photo: Arun Pasrija

From left: Sangeeta Pasrija, Swapan Dhairyawan, Raja Banga, Charlie Patel, Dhananjay Kaul and Surinder Kaul. Photo: Arun Pasrija

By Swapan Dhairyawan

SUGAR LAND: An evening with an outstanding star Dhananjay Kaul was organized by India Culture Center Houston (ICC) in association and support from Kashmiri Overseas Association (KOA) and International Hindi Association Houston (IHA) on Sunday, July 27.

Dhananjay was born in Kashmir (Land of Shaivite saints and Sufi followers). His voice is cast in devotional mould and trained in Patiala Shyam Chaurasi mould. His singing is full throated and bold, with beautiful tapestry of Swaras and Shrutis (Musical Notes and sub notes). His voice has requisite bass and Jhawari (a kind of rattle in the throat) to execute different Tana patterns. His dazzling vocalism marks him as an artist of unique flair. Apart from Khayal (Raga) singing, he also specializes in semi classical forms of Hindustani vocal music such as Thumri, Dadra, Kafi, Ghazal, Sufiana Kalam and Bhajans. Dhananjay received his training in Hindustani Classical Music in Guru Shishya Parampara from his father Pandit Shanti Chaitanya Kaul. He also received training from Acharya Nirmala Arun, who is a renowned exponent of Patiala Gharana. He has received formal training in Tabla from Ustad Hashmet Ali Khan of Ajrada Gharana. He has received numerous local and foreign Awards. This was his first trip to the United States.

KOA were very enthusiastic about Dhananjay, and had made all the arrangements to bring him to the Bayou City. ICC as a coordinating link with the Greater Houston community at large, was approached and within a matter of one week; all logistics were made to hold this special event. In spite of the rigorous planning of their Signature Event 68th Independence Day celebrations, a few of the core Directors and Trustees came towards the goal of bringing an outstanding talent from India to the audience in Houston. It turned out to  be a sold out event.

The program was held at Madras Pavilion, Sugar Land starting with a sumptuous dinner. The program started at 8pm with the introduction of the Artist by ICC Trustee Sangeeta Pasrija. She also introduced the local tabla supporter Raja Banga for assisting at this event at a very short notice. Thereafter she invited KOA President Surinder Kaul, ICC President Charlie Patel and IHA President Swapan Dhairyawan to recognize and felicitate the artist. Each of them updated the organization activity and the synergy in which they came together to present the evening show. Sam Merchant was invited to present the Congressional Proclamation from the office of Congressman Al Green to Dhananjay Kaul.

 The musical program started with a thumri, followed by ghazals and sufiyana music. The audience enjoyed watching and hearing the artist perform. The company given by Raja Banga was phenomenal and none would believe that both the performers had met for the first time in life. The sound system was provided by the perfectionist Darshak Thacker of Krishna Sounds.  As the evening progressed, the Artist fine tuned with the audience and took requests from them. The original and evergreen “Damadam Mast Kalandar” was a big time hit and the audience were on their feet. Even though it was a Sunday night, none of the 90+ audience wanted to leave. The musical program which was initially slated for just 90 minutes ran for more than 150 minutes with each and every individual mesmerized and enjoying the voice of Dhananjay Kaul.

 The program ended with a vote of thanks by ICC Director Nisha Mirani.

For further information visit www.icchouston.org