‘Girija: A Lifetime in Music’ - a Rare Look at the Queen of Thumri

‘Girija: A Lifetime in Music’ won the 65th National Award for Best Film on Art and Culture. 

2 min read
The late Girija Devi in concert. 

Girija Devi, the queen of thumri (also fondly known as Appaji) would have turned 89 today. The Indian classical singer, who passed on in October of 2017, was however, not just the thumri queen. While Girija Devi did play a dominant role in elevating the musical stylings of the thumri, her knowledge of styles like dhrupad, kajri, bhajan, chaiti, and holi was commendable as well. Capturing the life of this cornerstone of classical music was the only intention of the documentary, Girija - A Lifetime in Music, which it has succeeded to do so.

The queen of <i>thumri</i>, Girija Devi.&nbsp;
The queen of thumri, Girija Devi. 
(Photo Courtesy: Pinterest)

Girija - A Lifetime in Music beautifully portrays the life and times of Girija Devi, who held and performed in concerts in a time when it was looked down upon. The documentary captured the hearts of many as it recently won the 65th National Award for Best Film on Art and Culture.


Take a look the curtain raiser for Girija - A Lifetime in Music.

“Music was like a vast ocean for me. I felt as though I were swimming in it with immense joy. For me, music has divine powers.”
Girija Devi, Artiste

The documentary makes ample use of rare concert footage, music sessions, and interviews with Girija Devi, as well as other renowned musicians. The filmmakers passionately interviewed Appaji’s peers, students, associates and musicians like Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Abdul Rashid Khan, and Kishori Amonkar to capture Appaji’s musical element in the documentary. The film aims to shine a light upon traditional Indian music and its profound universal appeal, while exploring Appaji’s life in Benaras.

Directed by Debapriya Adhidary, Samanwaya Sarkar, and Sankalp Meshram, the documentary was has been produced by Madhu Chandra and Sudha Datta. It is widely available online for viewing purposes.

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