Monday, 27 August 2018

Music Has No Boundaries...

One thing which can’t be stopped from travelling to a different country without a visa or passport is- Art and Music. I will talk about music and some of its gharanas which have travelled across the borders of the country and thus taking its tradition and ethos to a completely new place. Music has no boundaries all it requires is, to touch the human soul with the perfect sur and melody. 
My first exposure to the Pakistani Music was a few days back, when I heard Ustaad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan on Youtube. Initially, I was sceptical of a form of music I wasn't really keen on exploring. But when I heard some of Ustaad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s
Ustaad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
compositions it stunned me. Then, I started exploring more and more about the Pakistani tradition of music. 

Then, I came across a gharana called Sham Chaurasi gharana, which has an interesting story behind its name. In the early years of the last century, in what was the undivided Punjab, a singer was rewarded by his patron with a gift of the revenue from 84 (chaurasi) villages. The singer, whose name was Sham, thereafter came to be known as Sham Chaurasi, and those who sang in his style – both his family and his shagirds (students), who comprised both Hindus and Muslims – were considered to belong to the Sham Chaurasi gharana.
The area comprising these 84 villages is now in India; in 1947, most of the adherents of its musical tradition crossed the newly-drawn line on the map to settle in what is now Pakistan.
Something similar happened with the representatives of the style known as the Dilli gharana. Several of them moved to Pakistan, while some others remained in India.
Gharanas are most often named after a place, rarely after a supposed founder. Sham Chaurasi gharana is an exception which comprise of both the founder’s name as well as the place’s name.

In the case of gharanas like Shyam Chaurasi and Dilli, the change in location for musicians symbolises a lot of things. For now, not only are the gharanas’ singers not located in the supposed place of origin, but a huge difference or the gap also separates them from the place after which the gharana is named. That difference is not just caused by distance. It has more to do with changes in the situations singers have to live with and the social system within which they have to work.
I believe music can be a strong and creative medium to bring about peace and stability between India and Pakistan. Since music is flexible and can surpass all borders, it can play a pivotal role in healing the frayed relationship. This is exactly why we have so many fans in India following the melodious talent that comes from across the border. Faced with strictures against certain forms, ragas, bandishes, even names, Pakistani musicians have successfully adapted themselves to newer techniques and gayakis to fit them into spaces and forms which are considered acceptable.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

SPIC MACAY- An Indian Cultural Movement...

Just saw a post on Facebook which gave the details of the SPIC MACAY’s 6th International Convention at IIT Kharagpur. The organisation has came too far and has been successfully fulfilling its primary objectives.
Prof. Kiran Seth
An organisation which was the vision of a young IIT Kharagpur Graduate, started in a small room, in order to spread Indian music, culture, and heritage to youth across the country, Spic MACAY was started by Kiran Seth.
Prof Kiran shares that many people opposed the idea initially. “When we started, most people were of the opinion that there were many more important problems that faced mankind. Many of my colleagues, friends and relatives often asked me why I was wasting my time on ‘gaana bajaana’. I must admit that I was often confused and did not know whether I was on the right track, but some intuition kept me going.”
Keeping the goal of connecting the youth with something which is their own, which is something to be proud of, was what Prof. Kiran was after. SPIC MACAY not only introduces the students or the youth to the Indian classical music, dance, folk music, yoga and other fields of Indian culture but also tries to develop their interest in these fields. An organisation which started just as an unique experiment has worked effectively for many students, helping them in understanding the fine art of living.

Pt Jasraj at performing at SPIC MACAY's concert
Over the past decades of Spic MACAY’s existence, its activities have comprised of performances and workshops on folk and classical arts held in different educational institutions across the country which has been made possible by a strong volunteer force.
The organisation has grown organically, falling, but rising each time, and learning all the way. The organisation believes that experiencing performances, and learning of unknown art forms not only instills a sense of appreciation among the youth, but also shows us how pluralistic our country is. It shows us how rich our culture is and how unknown we are to it. The biggest challenge the movement faces is the lack of funds. As per the policy of the organisation, participants pay no fee, and the organisation solely depends on donations, and government, corporate, and individual grants and sponsorships.

With exposure to the fine arts over the 40 years, Spic MACAY’s work has helped the Indian youth to take pride in being Indian, appreciate the rich and pluralistic culture of the country, and to also become sensitive to others around them.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Katyar Kaljat Ghusali- A Marathi Movie Review!

Some are movies and then some are masterpieces. Movies have actors while, the masterpieces comprise the characters portrayed with perfection. The masterpiece –
Katyar Kaljat Ghusali– is a beautiful movie which has music as its central character, and that too classical music. Moreover, it has many firsts. Shankar Mahadevan has debuted as an actor, Subodh Bhave has debuted as a director, Sakshi Tanvar has debuted in the Marathi film and Sachin Pilgaonkar playing a classical singer for the first time! The 4 ‘S’ brings a lifetime experience, that goes hand in hand with drama, music, cinematography and dialogues.
It has the stalwarts singer Vasantrao Deshpande playing one prominent role and Pt Jitendra Abhisheki playing the other. The drama is set in the pre-independence period and has the whole setting accordingly which carries the weight and nostalgia of the whole play. The story revolves around the ego and ambition of Khansaheb to become the king’s musician. It is narrated in the form of a musical fight between the 2 schools (gharanas) of music represented by him and Pandit Bhanu Shankar Shastri. It has all the elements of film- deceit, greed, revenge and politics while the opposite side has determination, love, devotion and righteousness.
The music is so mesmerising here that it truly transcends the boundaries of language and culture and one does not need to understand Marathi to appreciate this movie.
Classical music lovers like me, will will treasure this movie, while the uninterested one’s will come out with a new admiration and passion for this genre of music. The music is the heart and soul of the film. The presentations of the bandishes like Soorat Piya Ki and Dil Ki Tapish are sure to bring tears to the audience’s eyes. Such a wonderful renditions all the songs are! Shankar Ehsaan Loy have really done a fantastic job with the music.
Cinematography is top-notch while there are some magical scenes- like that of fireflies behaving as per the music also the silence after Shankar Mahadevan’s first rendition. The beauty of Katyar Kaljat Ghusali is that one does not need any special liking for Indian classical music to like the film. More than sufficient elements come together to make the movie watching experience worthwhile. The movie also brings out the idea of how classical music can change the person completely i.e. from a evil person to a nice person.
But, the stereotypical portrayal of the Indian Classical Music was what I disliked. People still believe that such performances and such impact of classical music could only happen at that time-period, shown in the movie. Why couldn’t the director show the whole drama in the modern era?
Overall, the movie definitely does ‘pierce the heart’ with its performances and storyline. Its very rare that a movie is made where the central character in music that too Classical music. Repeating a dialogue by Panditji- The throat is strategically situated exactly in between the brain and the heart because a musician is required to use both. As a audience, I too appreciate this movie with both!

Monday, 19 February 2018

Remembering Ustad Abdul Rashid Khan, the torch bearer Of 'Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb’

A legend, a composer, a performer, a musician and the torch bearer of ‘Ganga Jamuni Tehzeeb’ has left us. Yesterday was the death anniversary of the legend Ustaad Abdul Rashid Khan, who left us two years back. Its once in centuries when one sees a 108 year old musician performing. But even at that age Ustaad Abdul Rashid Khan didn’t miss a note though before he started his performance he used to say “Main 107 saal ka hoon (I am 107 years old),” and then pausing for a minute and then adding, “Nahi, nahi, main 108 saal ka hoon... bhul gaya (no, no, I’m 108 years. I forgot).”  After that he used to give a disclaimer that “Forgive me if I go wrong... I’m such an old man.”Though he used to never miss a note. Ustaad Jee, a descendant of Tansen was awarded by Padma Bhushan in 2013 and thus making him the oldest musician to receive this prestigious award. He was such a legend that he has composed around 2000 compositions in his life-time. In addition to khyaal he was also known for dhrupad, dhamar and thumri. These forms of Hindustani classical music are so old that they take us back to the time of Rg-Veda.
   An incident shows his skills as a composer. He was in the famous town of Vrindavan, playground of Lord Krishna, and en route to the concert venue. The vehicle was caught in traffic and the driver said, "Radhe radhe". Ustaad Jee was then taken aback by the fact that he did not have an appropriate composition for Vrindavan. And thus in the car itself he composed the following verse, "Gaur varan chanchal nain sakhiyan sang mil, dhol karan nainan band Radhe" and performed it for the audience.
        In 1991, he was specially invited by the ITC Sangeet Research Academy (ITC SRA)  in Kolkata to take over as the senior guru. He has been giving talim there for almost last 25 years. His traditional compositions have been recorded by the BBC and Iraq Radio.
       The UP Sangeet Natak Academi and the ITC Sangeet Research Academy have more than 1500 compositions of the ustad in their collection.
He saw no difference between worshipping Allah and worshipping Lord Ram. After his passing away last year India has perhaps lost the last living embodiment of its Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb.
His musical journey was not without obstacles. Some even claimed that professional rivalry had once led to an attempt on his life. A jealous singer was reportedly so insecure after a jugalbandi with Khan that he bribed a waiter to mix mercury in Khan's food. The mercury ended affecting Khan's fingers. But it couldn't impact his voice.
I would like to conclude with my humble regards to the legendary Ustaad on his death anniversary!!

Saturday, 17 February 2018


India has a very rich tradition of classical dances. Almost all the Indian States have a particular dance form which has the roots from the culture and tradition of that particular state. Today, I will be talking about the Odissi dance form.

Odissi dance is the dance established in the Indian state of Orissa. The cadence, the bhangis and mudras utilised as a part of Odissi dance has its very own unique nature. Odissi bargains to a great extent with the affection subject of Radha and Krishna. 
This dance was kept alive by the devadasis. The devadasis are one, who dedicate their life to the service of Lord Jagannath. Prior to the presentation of the Gita-govinda in temples, the devadasi used to dance to the recitation of songs and bols of talas. In any case, after Gita-govinda turned out to be an integral part of the customs, the devadasis performed abhinaya with various bhavas and rasas. 

The Gotipua arrangement of dance was performed by young men dressed as young ladies. In this convention one can identify yanking developments set up of smooth interpretations starting with one stance then onto the next. Beam Ramananda the Governor of Rajamahcndri as a performer artist and screenwriter who instructed moving to a gathering of young men chose to order his move show, jagannath Vallabha Nataka. It was performed in the Gotipua style. 

The diverse things of the Odissi move style are Managlacharna, Batunrya or Sthayi Nata, Pallavi, Abhinaya and Moksha. In mangalacharana the artist devotes herself to the Lord and asks absolution of the Mother Earth for stamping her feet upon her; she apologizes to her gathering of people for any weaknesses and offers greetings to the Guru. Batu Nrytya is unadulterated move. It starts with a progression of sculpturesque stances symbolising the playing of the veena, drum, woodwind or cymbals. Pallivi is greatly elegant and expressive. The tune is in some raga and is sung to the backup of Sargam and Bols. Through outward appearances abhinaya portrays rasa and bhava to draw out the importance and disposition of melodies. By and large the melodies composed by writers, Banamali, Upendra Bhanja, Baladeva Rath, Gopala and Jayadeva are sung. Moksha Nrutya is the last thing, performed to the backup of musical syllables. It has a quick rhythm. The spirit of the artist is to converge with the Divine as the artist winds up overjoyed. Odissi dance is a push to draw close to God and experience genuine ecstasy.

Music Has No Boundaries...

One thing which can’t be stopped from travelling to a different country without a visa or passport is- Art and Music. I will talk about ...