RE­VIV­ING MU­SI­CAL SOIREES

Leav­ing lis­ten­ers in revery.

Woman's Era - - Contents - Vi­jay Pant

“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.

IN­STANT RAP­PORT

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.

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