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Review

A family enterprise

They sound a bit like the Colonial Cousins, but they're actually
real brothers!


Savariya
3 Brothers and a Violin

Magnasound
Rs 60

You've seen Three Weddings and a Funeral? Now hear 3 Brothers and a Violin. They know they remind you of the movie title... but it's their sense of humour that's prompted them to choose such a name.

The most famous member of the family that's done this album is Anoorada Sriram, who sings a lot in southern films. Her husband Sriram, an engineer and management graduate, is the violinist. His brothers Vishwanath and Narayan sing and also play the mridangam and ghatam. Vishwanath's wife Shobha writes the words, and so the entire family's ventured into a pop experiment.

The distinct style of the brothers comes into the picture late, by about the fourth song. Till then they carry on in the style of the Colonial Cousins. Which means a pop beat backs up some Hindi and English singing, with occasional classical graces thrown in.

The brothers do live up to their maxim, "Real innovation comes from a deep understanding and respect for tradition", in a couple of songs.

The lyrics, by Nusrat Badr, K Jairam (Hindi) and Shobha Vishwanath (English) move freely between Hindi and English in the opening Savariya (Once upon a time). It is about sweet and painful memories, but the mastering is so full of echo that the words are generally unclear. Not that the words are stunningly original:

They are remembrances of a place in time
They are recollections of some dreams gone by...

O that sweet wondrous moment of ecstasy
Was it for real, was it my fantasy!

The brothers sing with ease and competence. Music by Sriram-Radha shows Indipop's full range of influences -- Hindustani, folk and of course pop. And you sometimes despair why this family's doing the sort of music only lesser talents should be doing.

Some tracks have rather more character. Blue on white is an instrumental featuring the violin and an orchestra (keyboard, heavy drums, chorus). It's based loosely on the northern raga Bhairavi, and weaves back and forth between a contemplative violin and a dance beat. The second bit with the electric guitar on a sombre bass is riveting. Sriram handles the violin with sensitivity and style. No gimmicky phrases.

Mat jaa is its vocal version and seems to be a tribute to Mother Teresa. Tere Bina uses silence and music very well. The tabla, ghatam and modern rhythms stylishly complement each other. The tune is full of short phrases which rise, fall and abruptly stop.

Barkha ritu comes in a Hindustani dhrut khayal-style rendering by Anoorada Sriram. The rhythm is played by a dholak. The violin plays slow bits off and on.

S Suchitra Lata


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