REVIVING MUSICAL SOIREES
Leaving listeners in revery.
“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” – (Plato)
The room is of average size. There are mattresses with immaculate white sheets spread on them. Balloons, buntings and strings of light add to the ambience as does the colourful flexi with Sur Aur Taal, (the creative host sometimes decides to give a name to the programme) written on it, serving as the backdrop to the performing artistes. A slightly raised rectangular area is for the performers and their musical instruments. Bolsters against the walls all around ensure that the listeners comfortably recline themselves all through the programme. There are extra lights and also a professional photographer so that the striking photographs of the event get frozen in time. Welcome to a private Indian musical soiree.
A dearth of good concert halls in small townships, has made music aficionados turn to private performances in homes, thus reviving those good old days of musical soirees.
In an age where entertainment has gone hi-fi and slick, the success mantra being the bigger the better, private musical soirees are like a whiff of fresh air amidst a massive stage, use of pyrotechnics, jam-packed auditoriums and swaying, shrill and screaming crowds.
“Of late there has been a resurrection of the Baithak Sangeet with people showing a lot of interest in both hosting the event and listening to the local artistes rendering gazals, bhajans and folk music with panache. Moreover, it is up to the host to make the musical evening as simple or as elaborate as he or she wants. Such musical evenings are a welcome intervention in our busy daily routine. We all know that music is always soothing and, no matter what the circumstance, it uplifts the mood. More than anything else, “such events serve the very important purpose of providing a platform and an audience to the upcoming artists,” avers Jitendra Bhatt, a music teacher.
“In the beginning, I was too nervous to go up on stage and sing. So, despite all my efforts and long hours of daily practice, I was not able to give noticeable performances or win any prizes in competitions. These musical soirees have given me the much-needed confidence to face the audience,” says Rekha Arya, a vocalist.
There may be a ‘disconnect’ between the artistes and the audience when one goes to an auditorium due to the enormity of the situation. But in private musical evenings, there establishes an instant rapport between the two. The informality of the occasion results in driving away stage fear of the youngsters, most of them eager learners of music. Also, one can ask about a particular ‘ raga’ or ‘ bandish’ in between performances resulting in clearing of doubts, with the enriching discussion an added takeaway.
“These musical soirees also promote classical music, which requires an accomplished guru and daily riyaaz. It was after attending one such programme that my daughter evinced a keen interest in joining a music school to undergo training as a classical singer. Of course, the many music schools opened in the area are also cashing in on the trend and encouraging people to host such activities so that they get more and more students.
“Anyway, it is a lot better than children immersing themselves in gadgets or watching television all the time,” comments Somna Agarwal, a homemaker.
Without rigid timings as in a concert, sometimes these musical soirees end quite late in the night. The performers are only too happy to oblige the listeners with an encore and the audience gets up only after they have had their fill. Sometimes an impromptu performance lets one discover latent talent too.
So, next time you pass someone’s home and the wafting musical notes reach you, interspersed with ‘ wah-wah’ and ‘ irshaad’ don’t get surprised. It is a musical soiree in progress quietly doing its bit for spreading love for Indian classical music among the masses.
Crossing the line It had been three months since I'd joined an IT company in Chennai. I'd made acquaintances among colleagues ( calling them ' friends' would be a stretch). I was thrilled when our super- boss in the Bengaluru branch announced an "offsite" in Masinagudi. Colleagues from different teams in the Analytics Division were invited to spend the weekend in a resort in Masinagudi, near Bengaluru.
I envisioned healthy banter between colleagues, a little gossip, some jungle safaris, sports in the resort and a sense of camaraderie being reinforced at the end of the two- day stay. What actually happened was slightly different.
About 40 colleagues from the Analytics team boarded a luxury bus to Masinagudi. I was sitting next to Deepa, my colleague. As the bus made its way through roads of all terrain, Deepa and I blithely chatted on. Charan and Faiz, the two extroverted guys from the copy department were seated across the passageway from us.
It was then that the driver suddenly started playing songs on the bus. Soon, a group of boys from the back of the bus, who I didn't remember seeing at work ever, came next to Deepa and me and started dancing ( in a rather uncouth manner).
A guy named Satish, egged the driver to play his own tape. He soon started thrusting his pelvis at Deepa and me. Both of us were rather scandalised and felt extremely uncomfortable. It was then, that Charan and Faiz messaged our super- boss in Bengaluru and informed him of this. But the nightmare didn't end with that. Somehow, due to some problem. It took us 19 hours to reach Masinagudi. However, little did we know that there was more in store for us. Once we reached Masinagudi, we broke off to occupy our rooms. Deepa and I were to occupy one room in a villa. We took a shower and got ready for the bonfire.
As we headed toward the bonfire, we saw our super- boss getting ready to address the gang. He was a rather cool guy.
Deepa and I suddenly stopped in shock. Satish was dropping one glass after another on the field, intentionally, saying ' Oops' after each one fell. The whole ground was littered with glass pieces. We were wary of Satish who seemed half-crazed but was probably drunk out of his mind.
I crossed the field and sat on a chair near the food. That's when Sridhar, a guy from the Bengaluru team came up to me and started a conversation.
I soon forgot about Satish and had a good time chatting. Suddenly, I saw a fire spreading on the field. Our super-boss came up to us and told us to go to our rooms for our own safety.
The next day, Satish was not to be seen. I heard through the grapevine that he had gone to flirt with some of the female colleagues at night to their rooms in a drunken stupor.
The rest of the day, however, we thoroughly enjoyed. It was only after we got back to Chennai that the 'shit hit the fan' for Satish. He was given a dismissal order along with two other miscreant friends and his female friend who entertained him in her room.
Deepa and I sat shocked that an offsite could take on such a sinister edge. But when someone does crazy things like Satish had done, we only felt safer at work that our super-boss had decreed such a fate for him. – Aishwariya Laxmi.