Late Indian classical vocalist Girija Devi, who earned the epithet of ‘Thumri queen’, wanted to sing a song for the country.
The revelation was made by lyricist Prasoon Joshi as he paid tribute to Girija Devi on Friday at the maiden MTV India Music Summit.
The legendary artiste was due to share the stage for a concert and conversation with Pandit Jasraj at the summit here on Friday, but she passed away on Tuesday. She was 88.
While paying tribute to Girija Devi, Joshi said: “I was reminded of her Thumri.
“I remembered my childhood, the smile, and I also recollected that just a few months ago, Girija Deviji had expressed a desire to sing a song for the nation.
“She wanted to sing something for India. She felt it had been too long (since such a song came out), and she told me, ‘Main chahti hun tum kuchh likho (I want you to write something’.
“So I thought what will I write, she said, ‘Like ‘Vande Mataram’, whatever thoughts you have about the nation, you write them. I want to sing it. Main chahti hun ki jaane se pehle ek aisa geet karun (It’s my desire that before I leave the world, I sing such a song)’.”
Joshi couldn’t write the song.
“I don’t know if she ever mentioned it to anyone, but when she mentioned this song again, I said I had started writing something. (But) It’s my destiny that it couldn’t happen,” he added.
Nevertheless, Joshi said it was commendable that at her age, “she thought about what she can still do and what she should still do to leave behind as a legacy”.
Pandit Jasraj, who performed to a full house at the Fairmont Jaipur’s Grand Ballroom, which reverberated with his powerful rendition of “Raag din ki puriya”, also remembered Girija Devi.
Before his performance, Pandit Jasraj said he was looking forward to meet his “Jiji” and share the stage with her and relive old times, but the news of her demise shook him.
“She used to bring an unmatched aura to a gathering,” he said, adding that he considers her death a “personal loss”.
Mala Sekhri, Co-founder of Musiconcepts which has put together the Summit, said she had spoken to Giriji Devi, who had told her that her “packing was done” to be a part of the forum.
The veteran semi classical singer passed away in Kolkata on Tuesday night following a cardiac arrest.
(The writer’s trip is at the invitation of the organisers of the MTV India Music Summit. Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
By Radhika Bhirani