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.
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
Nattai, followed by Thyagaraja's Sriranjani piece,
. 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
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.
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
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
, Mahatma Gandhi's favourite
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
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