Ever wondered how it must feel to be in the presence of the Navratnas, the Nine Jewels. Well, the audience got a gist of it on a rainy Sunday evening. Perhaps, the Rain Gods decided to descend to witness the performances as well at the Shanmukhananda auditorium in Sion on Sunday evening 16th July.
Mystique Beats, conceptualized by Padmabhushan Ustad Zakhir Hussain, was aptly labeled as an instrumental fusion of 9 pristine musical jewels. The event celebrated the 85th year of Acharya Jialal Vasant Sangeet Niketan (AJIVASAN) and the centenary year of their Guru Acharya Jialal Vasant.
The show began with a tribute in the form of the institute’s recorded theme song being played, composed by Shri Vijay Prakash. This was followed by a heartwarming performance by the special students of the institute led by the teachers. Their sincere rendition received a thunderous applause. But this was only the beginning.
It was a beautiful amalgamation of music from different worlds – Hindustani, Carnatic, Folk and Western. In the words of Ustad Zakhir Hussain, the performances were homage to universal music, music that is all encompassing, tolerant and belongs to every being.
The evening was divided in to two segments but had no interval, which was extremely appropriate. The break in the momentum of the performances would have been disappointing.
Ustadji, who also played the role of a Sutradhar (I wouldn’t call him an anchor) during the performances, kept the audience entranced with his performance and in splits with his witty one-liners. He was the only constant factor throughout the evening and one can definitely admire him for his unwavering energy and stamina to perform for almost three hours. Being the week following Guru-Purnima, he and the other artistes payed their respects to their respective gurus by first giving their solo performances and then joining the others.
The first segment comprised of Ustad Zakhir Hussain on the Tabla, Ustad Sabir Khan on the Sarangi, Ustad Taufiq Qureshi playing the Djembe and Anantha R.Krishnan on the Mridamgam. Sabir Khan played his introduction piece and then continued playing the Lehra (melody that accompanies the percussion instrumental performances). The Sarangi as always had a mesmerizing and emotion invoking effect. Playing Raag Patdeep, he was then joined by Ustadji on the Tabla in Vilambit Tritaal. The evening got interesting with the entry of Punjab Gharana Tabla player, Navin Sharma. He chose to play the Dholak for the evening. The Jugalbandi between the Tabla and the Dholak was awe inspiring. But as I said, this was only the beginning. They were then joined on stage by Mridamgam player
Anantha R.Krishanan bringing in the Carnatic element. It was evident that he was thoroughly enjoying the face off with Ustadji. To add some funkiness to the performances came in Taufiq Qureshi to play the Djembe, an African percussion instrument. Did you know the word Djembe translates into “gather together in peace”? How befitting for the whole theme of the concert. Taufiqji played a variety of patterns including rhythms of the Pune Dhol and Bhajani Theka. The finale of the first segment led to soaring heart beats. The energy of the percussion instruments felt like a thousand stallions galloping. It was only admirable that the Sarangi matched up with the same fervor with fast paced taans.
The gap between the two segments was filled by Ustadji explaining the theme of the concert. The base for all music is the same. They all connect at some level. All the artistes improvised as the evening went along, with spontaneous pieces in response to another. This was especially evident in the second segment that brought in a combination of Hindustani, Jazz, Marathi folk and South Indian folk. Each of the percussion instruments in both segments, though from different genres, displayed their unique styles as well as adapted to the Kaydas and Paltas of the Tabla.
The theatre once again thundered with applause with Niladri Kumar taking the stage with his Sitar. Many wondered out loud why he didn’t choose to perform on his Zitar (the electric Sitar invented by him). He began with Raag Tila Kamod and effortlessly followed it up with Raag Miya ki Malhaar. Enter Darshan Doshi, and the atmosphere filled with passion with which he played. A student of maestros like Taufiq Qureshi and Ranjit Barot, he was at ease giving the Hindustani Tabla Taals (rhythms) a jazz twist. The crowd came into its element, when Vinay Chavan started playing the Dholki. His first stroke with the quintessential Lavani rhythm drove the crowd into frenzy with many whistling along with the folk patterns that he played. The humility of Ustad Zakhir Hussain was evident with him playing the Manjeera as an accompaniment for the Dholki. The segment ended with M.R. Vasudevan playing the Thavil, a significant instrument in folk and Carnatic music.
They had saved the best for the last. Ustadji requested all the performers to join him on stage and what followed is a musical memory to be cherished lifelong. With Ustadji leading the musical relay of sorts on the Tabla, the Dholki, Dholak, Sarangi, Sitar, Mridamgam, Djembe, Thavil and Drums (the nine jewels), replicated and improvised the same pattern played originally. The increase in the crescendo left the audience on a musical high.
Place: Shanmukhananda auditorium, Sion
Day: 16th July Sunday.
By Ashwini Narayangaonkar-Kamath
Ashwini Narayangaonkar-Kamath is the eleventh generation of her family to be dedicated to the ancient art form of Indian classical music. As a singer she has performed in India and abroad, has music albums to her credit and successfully runs her classical music academy - Deepak Music Academy all over Mumbai.
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