It is a journey defined, driven and dictated by music – Hindustani classical. For more than 35 years, Navjeevan Khosla, now 98, has been promoting the cause of Indian classical music, bringing to Chandigarh maestros and new voices in the field, and in the process sensitising generations about the timeless beauty of our musical heritage.
Khosla’s life and passion is intrinsically linked with The Indian National Theatre, a registered society, which was formed way back in 1965 by Sherie Doongaji. The society’s founding members, Kanta Saroop Krishen, Usha Saboo, Jitie Sodhi, PN Thapar, HC Khanna…to name a few, came together to give the new city of Chandigarh a rich cultural, musical, artistic and literary life.
It was none other than the legendary Prithviraj Kapoor who formally launched the society, with the citizens of Chandigarh thereafter being treated to a series of plays, music concerts and dance recitals.
Ustad Vilayat Khan presented the first music concert for the society, with maestros like Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma, Pt Budhaditya Mukherjee, Smt Kishori Amonkar, Pt Bhimsen Joshi and Pt Jasraj being invited for subsequent concerts, giving music lovers a rare chance to hear them live.
The Society presents an annual three-day concert of Indian classical music– Chandigarh Sangeet Sammelan and seasonal concerts during spring and monsoons. From Ustad Bismillah Khan to Pt Kumar Gandharva, Ustad Vilayat Khan to Kishori Amonkar, Pt Bhimsen Joshi to Begum Parveen Sultana…the legends have been part of the much awaited Sammelan, held in October or November, an integral part of Chandigarh’s cultural calendar.
The executive team of the society is headed by Khosla, a former civil servant, who joined INT in Chandigarh in 1975, in an honorary capacity. While the philosophy of the society was the promotion of performing arts and infusing soul in the newly-built and first modern city of India, Khosla’s dream for INT was to introduce a ‘Sangeet Sammelan’ on the lines of the Harballabh Sangeet Sammelan in Jalandhar. Therefore, classical music became the principal focus of INT under Khosla’s leadership of over four decades now, with Kanta Saroop Krishen continuing to provide support and guidance.
Khosla’s constant endeavour has been to bring to stage here in Chandigarh, talent of high calibre, relatively unknown to this part of the country and over the years, both legends and emerging voices of the country have performed on the platform of INT.
After retirement, Khosla immersed his time, energy and vision to the cause, serving the society without receiving any monetary gain, supporting the society financially and graciously donating a large sum of money to the society a year back to ensure that the mission of promoting music goes on after him. “In 2013, he took a team of musicians to Lahore, who participated in the ‘Sanjan Nagar Sangeet Sammelan’ back there. He is 98 years young and nothing can deter his spirit to go on,” smiles classical vocalist Vinita Gupta, who joined the society as honorary secretary about a decade ago.
She has been working with Khosla in his consistent endeavour of selecting good musicians for audiences here and the society has been organising music appreciation courses for music lovers, helping them enjoy music concerts even more.
“I was a student of music when I was first introduced to the work of the society, with Mr. Khosla encouraging many of us to be part of the society. My role is to carry forward the responsibility entrusted upon my shoulders by him and bring the best quality musicians to the city. I have always wanted to involve our local musicians and teachers with us so that we can reach out to the younger generation and ensure that they are not deprived of this experience of listening to our treasured art form. It is an enriching experience to work with Mr. Khosla and as a tribute to his dedication and tireless efforts, I have made a documentary on him, one that charts his amazing work with the society. In these challenging times, it is not going to be possible to hold concerts in auditoriums for a while, but we are working towards organising digital live concerts which our listeners will be able to access online,” sums up Gupta.
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