Tejashri Powar is a Hindustani Classical vocalist, a tabla player, a degree holder in music. Tejashri Powar is also a jailor, posted in the Satara prison. It takes a while to sink in that someone with her credentials is not a full-time musician. It takes even more time to fathom the sheer talent of a Khaki-clad Tejashri who recently regaled the legendary Zakir Hussain by playing Trital on a tabla.
“My senior, DIG Swati Sathe had organised a programme at the Yerawada jail in Pune in February this year, which was attended by Hussain Sir. She knew that I play the tabla so I was called on the stage. He asked me if I would like to play with him. I immediately agreed and we played Trital. I never dreamt that I will ever get a chance to perform with Hussain Sir. I had to pinch myself to believe that I was performing with him, doing a jugalbandi with him. It felt surreal,” says an elated Tejashri.
The music aficionado has had a humble beginning. Daughter of a farmer, Powar (28) was initiated into music by her father who used to sings bhajans at their village temple in Kolhapur. The incumbent Satara jailor went on to bag a formal degree in music from Mumbai University. However, the family’s economic conditions drove the eldest child to look for a “stable government job”. She wrote MPSC and cleared it in first chance.
“My baba is responsible for introducing me to music. I used to hum the bhajans he used to recite. While I wanted to pursue a career in music, I am the eldest child and therefore I was advised to look for a government job and I started preparing for MPSC. In 2013, I cleared the exam for jailor and after receiving training appointed as a jailor at Satara jail last year,” she says.
Since her appointment, Tejashri has made music as a part of the jail life. “A few NGOs regularly organise music shows in our jails. Occasionally, I also sing at these shows. It feels good when a prisoner walks up to you and says that they find solace in music. Many of them have taken up singing bhajans and they sing during our weekly bhajans session held at the prison,” she adds. “I feel music has the power to heal a person, calm him down and even plays a pivotal role in reforming him. I hope the prisoners use this art to their benefit,” says Tejashri.
The busy police life seldom gives her time for riyaz (practice) but she manages to take out time. “Even if it’s for 15-30 minutes, I practise every day. At times it get hectic but I push myself and once I am at it I feel relaxed. In a police job, it acts as a therapy,” says Tejashri.