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Apart from an illustrious father, Amaan and Ayaan share striking good looks. And wear flamboyant kurtas!
 

Amaan and Ayaan: high decibel musicEvent
 
Softer please, we can hear you!

 

Mansar 2001
Music Academy, Chennai
March 10

Amaan and Ayaan blast away at a concert with U Rajesh, unmindful of people in the hall holding their heads in dismay 

 

 

Most people who turned up at the Music Academy to hear the confluence of the mandolin and the sarod on Saturday thought the concert was being deferred for want of a big-enough audience. After a while, P C Ramakrishna, the emcee with the baritone, broke the news about the delayed flight of Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and his two sons.

Amaan Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash performed with U Rajesh, student and sibling of Mandolin U Shrinivas. Titled Mansar 2001, to indicate the two instruments on display, the programme was expected to be a sell- out as it put on stage three young men who had learnt their music from the topranking exponents of the two string instruments. If it was not, it is perhaps because the programme was a hurriedly made-up substitute for a performance by the southern playback star S P Balasubrahmanyam, who withdrew because of a hip injury. 

Let's not forget to mention that the people of Chennai could have taken a more sympathetic view of the circumstances and turned out in larger numbers to support the cause of the organisers, Shakthi Foundation. The foundation strains every sinew for the welfare of the disabled. In the ultimate analysis, to quote Vasanth Raghuvir of Shakthi Foundation, music spoke. She said it was Rajesh who had managed to bring the "celebrity brothers" to Madras for the jugalbandhi in which ghatam maestro Vikku Vinayakram and tabla exponent Bikram Ghosh also participated.

And it fell to Rajesh again to assume the unaccustomed role of being at centre stage. He began the concert by playing solo, with the ghatam and tabla in tandem. He began with Mahaganapathim in raga Nattai, followed by Thyagaraja's Sriranjani piece, Brochevarevaru. One could hear flashes of Shrinivas in the higher octaves, and again when he went to the lower frets. Rajesh exhibited his mastery over the mandolin with evocative finesse. He coaxed dulcet notes out of the instrument in a serene, slow tempo. The curtains were brought down to rearrange the mikes on the arrival of the celebrity brothers, as they were called by the compere.

The curtain went up and the audience realised why Amaan Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash are already celebrities. Apart from an exceptional father, they share striking good looks. And sport flamboyant kurtas! The elder of the two, Amaan, also makes his presence felt very vocally. He apologised to the audience for the delay but insisted it was not their fault but that of the airlines. He said he would not continue to play if the mike volume was not raised. He went into contortions of irritation whenever the audio was not perfect. He went into raptures over the play of the unassuming Rajesh, embarrassing the latter performer.

Amaan might have thought he was on the sets of Saregama and not in the most prestigious concert hall of Chennai! Amaan's and Ayaan's performance began with an alaap of raga Purya Dhansree, followed by compositions in jhap tal and teen tal. Amaan described the raga as spiritual, but it emerged as strident. The brothers began well and the alaap was controlled and well delineated. However as they ventured into the folds of the raga, their playing became jarring. The brothers got so carried away with the soaring decibel level that they banged the strings harder and harder.

After their duet, Rajesh was welcomed to the stage once again. Together the trio started to expound raga Keeravani, which seems a favourite in Carnatic-Hindustani combo performances. Rajesh made the mandolin produce melodious gamakas. Thanks to this edifying precept, the brothers initially curbed for a while their penchant to bang away, and played some lingering notes. But not for long. Especially Amaan's strumming fingers were uncontrollable and many among the audience were seen rubbing their foreheads. Believe it or not, Amaan broke four of his sarod strings and the audience had a special treat in witnessing an onstage demo of string repair by the artiste.

The percussion play by Grammy Award winner Vikku Vinayakram and tabla maestro, Bikram Ghosh was the tour de force. After all the fireworks Vikku's patting of the ghatam was music to the ears. Bikram Ghosh's fingers too flew but the sound this time was pleasing and not harsh. The concert was brought to a close with Vaishnava janato, Mahatma Gandhi's favourite song. 

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, in a delightful little speech, pointed out that the three had met on stage, without practice, and carried it off. But one could not but remember the performance put up for Shakthi Foundation last year by Shrinivas and tabla maestro Zakir Hussain, where Shrinivas played a composition of Zakir's and Zakir kept perfect beat for a composition of Shrinivas'. That was a real jugalbandi. Still, it is heartening that young artistes are willing to play for a good cause, unmindful of commercial interests.  


Ambujam Anantharaman


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