Today evening, I attended a Hindustani concert organized by IIT madras music club. The concert was by Smt.Lakshmi Shriram, wife of a respected faculty in IIT madras. Last week, the same music club had organized a flute concert by famous artist Smt.Mala Chandrasekhar witnessed by single digit crowd. Hence, with no great expectation about the audience, I entered the MBA seminar hall, which to my surprise was packed with people. A mischievous thought crept into my mind “How come so much crowd for a not so famous person, especially after such a poor attendance for Smt.Mala Chandrasekhar. I thought, perhaps the vocalist might have invited all of them to attend and fill the hall”. I can't stop thinking stupidly; so I accepted and digested my thoughts and settled in a nearest cushion chair dressed neatly in a romantic red fabric. The stage was too big for the three, vocalist, harmonium player and the tabla player. The vocalist, who have already crossed her thirties was a tall lean figure draped in a dung coloured silk sari. The harmonium player, who was around 50 covered himself in a purple coloured kurta and pajama (if surf excel marketing get hold of him, they may use his kurta to show the whitening power of their product by labeling it as “before washing with surf excel”). To avoid my acrid criticism on whiteness, the tabla player sat there inside his saffron coloured kurta.
Inside the seminar hall, with black board background, the lean vocalist was singing with one of her folded legs perpendicular to the other, in a typical pose of Hindustani recital, allowing the big bellied tambura to rest in between. The pure sound of “shrudi” crawling out the moments following the vocalist’s slender finger plucking the stretched strings of tambura filled the air; a joyous feeling also spread along, like a fragrance of ‘cycle brand’ incense sticks in the study room, or like a tint of elachi in the evening tea. The ambience was softened by the cool breeze spit by the 2+ ton A.C machine. In the cozy cool atmosphere, I think even the dead skin of animals stretched in tabla also started hibernating; not yielding to earnest efforts and hammering of tabla player. The fine technology in the A.C started sucking more air than it pumped resulting in lack of air for harmonium. The harmonium player forced it to inhale and vibrate the swaras; I think poor harmonium was suffering from asthma like my ‘appa’; it was really suffering to breathe between its bellows.
Smt.Lakshmi was singing wonderfully; her beautiful vocal cords strainlessly reaching the fine gamakhas and swaras; I sat spellbound for some time. The nuance and finesse in her undertaking the greatest art was really appreciable. I don’t know anything about Hindustani music, other than my cousin’s bhajan “
However, despite her great delivery, I felt some sense of incompleteness. Well, as an idiot, incapable of expressing my views in the technical terms, I would like to compare her with masters like Bhimsen Joshi or Abdul Karim khan. Well, she’s definitely not equivalent to great men like Joshi. It would be a sin in my part even if I attempt comparison. Had she been at least 1% equal to them, she would have been proportionately famous like them, about which I think she’s not. But, since I don’t have any other choice, I shall continue comparing. I would say that Joshis swaras and brigas are like a free turbulent flow; like a rocket piercing the blue sky challenging newtons gravity with its escape velocity. Whereas Smt.Lakshmi’s flow is like an intermittently choked flow, may be like electron flow in a high resistance wire. Something, something was missing. I dare not to identify as shrudi, may be something else failing to fill the gaps. I felt her like a new cyclist driving zig zagly without balance in a supposedly straight line. I may not reflect the reality as whatever I’m detailing is based on a emotional impact she made on my mind.There is a reason in my describing it as an emotional touch; I found Hindustani music sinking in my emotions than the carnatic music. Well, I would like to take an anology, if I take an investment brochure, I may dwell upon the better performing sectors, share market prices etc; but if the same thing is handled by my handsome nephew ‘ayush’, he would have wondered about the advertisement and bar graphs and would appreciate only those soft unimportant aspects. Similarly, I, an idiot in the technical details of Hindustani can’t enjoy the core Hindustani music, but can attempt to talk only about the boundary impacts it generates. I was telling that the vocalist was lacking some inexplicable details. But, so what? A humble music lover like me is like a hungry beggar; quite contented with any food, whether a swiss chocolate or previous day’s food demanding bio-degradation. It’s good to be an innocent hungry music lover like me, because
- you are happy with any music you listen to
- your expectations are either nil or very low
- any music appears new and above all
- You can’t find any technical mistakes in any music.
I’m happy in being dumb in music. After all, I can appreciate the musician wholeheartedly instead of finding faults. After enjoying the aalapana, meera bhajan and kabhir bhajan, I left the auditorium longing for the next opportunity to listen some good music.