Everything does pass, and we can endure and we can survive!! – Rahul Dravid
Come January, come Saarang! 🙂 🙂 IIT, Madras is THE place to be during their annual festival. This year’s classical night was excellent, as usual.
The evening started off with a musical jugalbandhi by the Malladi Brothers and the Gundecha Brothers. The Malladi brothers are exponents in Carnatic music, which is the traditional music South India. The Gundecha brothers are experts in Dhrupad style of music, which is said to be the oldest vocal genre of Hindustani classical music that is still in use. The jugalbandhi was conducted to show the similarities between both styles of music – that before the North South divide became prominent; it was all one Indian music!!
Initially, the Malladi brothers started off with a rendering in a specific raagam in Carnatic music to which the Gundecha brothers responded in the equivalent raag in Dhrupad. The Carnatic keerthanas were mostly Telugu, Tamil or Kannada, sometimes Sanskrit. The Dhrupad ones were mostly in Hindi, Marathi, Sanskrit and other North Indian languages.
Then, they sang a Raagam Taanam Pallavi piece in Raagam Keeravani for nearly 45 minutes, effortlessly continuing from Carnatic to Dhrupad and back as though it didn’t matter!! The transition was so seamless that it showed the similarity between both styles of music so blatantly. The 4 sang together as well as individually, taking off from where the other left off as though it was the same thing! It was brilliant! They closed with a piece on Shiva – which again all 4 sang together.
The brother duos were accompanied by an amazing violinist and mridangist, and there was Akilesh Gundecha on the pakhawaj (instrument very much like the mridangam) used to accompany Dhrupad singers. All of them were extraordinarily good. They played solos and there was a mridangam – pakhawaj duet as well. It was phenomenal.
After this came the Kathak dancers from the Birju Maharaj Gharana!! They were simply spellbinding!! What elegance!! What joy Kathak exudes!! Kathak is one of the primary dances of North India used in early days to tell stories in temples. It has then passed through the courts of Muslim rulers who added their own awesome flavor to it to the modern day, where contemporary themes are taking over the traditional ones. Amidst all this, Kathak has retained its elegance and its striking poses!! When the dancers came on stage, it seemed as though the OAT was lit with joy!!
In fact, it was the Mughal rulers who made Kathak popular and actually defined much of its characters. The spin movement, the dresses, the gunghroo and much of its themes were patronized by the Mughals. The anchor announced that Kathak’s rhythms were extremely complex and that it has numerous striking similarities with Flamenco – a Spanish dance form. Kathak is said to have influenced Flamecoo a great deal!!
The men dancers were good, but the women dancers made Kathak theirs! Elegance gels more with feminity than with masculinity; Ganguly and Lara are exceptions, but then, cricket is a different stage all together. Whether it was the girls dancing to formations or otherwise, the poses were just breathtaking and the dancing scintillating.
The costumes were beautiful – women wore long anarkali style chudidhar kameez or the lehenga – choli, in either case; the salangai or ghungroo is hidden from view. When they jump or make rounds, the kurta lifts up in a fan and reveals the ghungroo!! The dress added more to the grace of the dancers! The men wore kurta – churidhar or kurta – dhothi (tied with pleats that look like fans in Bengal style).
What appealed to me most was the cheer that the dance seemed to spread around, the footwork that was as good as the percussion (!) and the playfulness of the dance form itself! It didn’t seem as perfect as Bharatnatyam or as boisterous as Kathakali, Kathak was beautiful in its own way! It is now my favourite dance form!!
Of Birju Maharaj – I suppose there isn’t anything you can write about a person who follows his passion at nearly 75 years of age! Kaana kann kodi vendum!! 🙂 🙂