Saturday, July 30, 2011

Barkha Ritu

Banyan Tree's 'Barkha Ritu' is an effusive platform, where musical interpretations of rains are presented. In its sixth installment this year, the event will visit six cities, and will be in Pune on July 30. Santoor player Rahul Sharma and group, and sitar exponent Ustad Shujaat Khan will visit the city as part of the event.

Ustad Shujaat Khan hails from a lofty family tradition of distinguished musicians - he is the great-grandson of Ustad Imdad Khan; grandson of Ustad Inayat Khan; and son and disciple of Ustad Vilayat Khan. His sitar-playing prowess and gayaki ang performance style have drawn invites from the world over, including London's Royal Albert Hall and New York's Carnegie Hall. It's no surprise that he finds family associations and collaborations an accentuating factor in an already dynamic classical music pool. "Indian classical music is essentially a dynamic form of music, open to interpretations. So coming together of artists only further adds to the creative synergy," he says.

But he balances his fondness for the season with deadpan pragmatism. "Right now if I think of monsoons, I can think only of slush and cities cramped with traffic! But I have very fond memories of the monsoons while growing up in the mountains. It was much more open, green and there was this whole romanticism about waiting for the monsoons! It was absolutely beautiful!" The concept of beauty is at the center of Ustad Khan's creative universe. "Of course, changing seasons is just one of the things that inspires music. There are colours, nature, beauty; beauty in a person also inspires me!"

Indian Classical music has shifted gears in the last few years to embrace a younger audience. There is better acceptance and better appreciation of music fests like Sawai Gandharva. "Yes there is a shift in interest. It could be because, after a point, they (youngsters) realise that there is life beyond mundane activities," Ustad Khan analyses. "At that point, they tend to experiment and perhaps start enjoying and understanding classical music. Also, artists are more accessible today."

Perhaps no classical artiste can escape a question on fusion music, and Ustaad Khan pitches a diplomatic assesment of the topic. "Fusion music may have played a role in attracting the youth towards the sounds of some instruments. But the full range of the instrument can only be experienced when the instrument is played in its purest form; its base, that's classical music. There is no comparison really, it's not that one thing is good for the other."

'Barkha Ritu' will be performed at Yashwantrao Chavan Sabhagruha on July 30, at 6:30pm

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