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I am humiliated in my home town, says Manjari Chaturvedi

Manjari Chaturvedi says she has performed in 35 countries but was never asked to stop midway till organisers in her hometown Lucknow stopped her, objecting to a qawwali as the background score

I am humiliated in my home town, says Manjari Chaturvedi
Manjari Chaturvedi (IANS Photo)

Sufi-Kathak dance form creator Manjari Chaturvedi is distraught. She was asked to stop her recital mid-way because she was told that she cannot perform on Qawwali.

This was the first time in her 25-year career that she was asked to stop her performance mid-way, she exclaims before adding that what pained her even more was that this had to happen in her own hometown Lucknow, the city of tehzib and nazakat.

The recital was part of the 7th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association India Region Conference on Thursday evening. Officials of the culture department of Government of Uttar Pradesh have given an explanation saying that her performance was stopped not because of the quawwali but because of time constraint. But people in her team pointed out that since the background score was pre-recorded, she could not have exceeded the time-limit. And in any case the organisers did say, “Yahan Quawwali Nahin Chalegi” ( There will be no quawwali here).

Manjari admits that officials have spoken to her and tried to clear the cloud. She herself says that she does not want to politicize the matter but she admits that she is hurt because she feels she was humiliated. “An artist should not be treated like this. I was humiliated in my home town,” she said.

In a telephonic interview she explains what had happened:

WE have heard that officials of the culture department abruptly stopped your performance and announced the next programme.

Very true. Exactly this is what had happened. And it happened in Lucknow, the city to which I belong and admire the composite culture of the region. The way my performance was stopped abruptly and the next performance was announced, it was shocking. I am hurt … very hurt. I was there not of my own. I was invited by the Uttar Pradesh Government.

Officials claimed you had overshot the time given to you...

I was allotted 45 minutes for my performance. I performed my Radha-Krishna sequence which everyone appreciated. My next performance was on qawwali – giving a message of universal brotherhood. It was a nine minute sequence and I was almost through. I can say that almost 8 minutes of my performance was over. Suddenly the background music was stopped. Initially I thought there was some technical problem. But my musician said that they were forced to stop by the officials.

Was it because of qawwali? Did the officials say anything to that effect ?

Yes, I was told that I was not allowed to perform on quawwali. If I was not allowed to do so, organisers should have informed me earlier. My performance was pre-planned and the organisers knew about it before hand. I am shocked that and I did make my disappointment public. I have performed across the globe. This never happened (to me)

I believe officials are now in touch with you..

Some officials rang me up and apologised. They say that I had exceeded the time limit and therefore I was asked to stop. There was another performance and the VIPs had some pressing engagement. One of the officials said they would plan another performance, with no interruption this time !

Do you think this happened because of the present government or present scenario.

I do not want to politicize the matter. I am an artist. I want peace and love on this earth, so I do not want to drag the matter further.

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