118 years of trust
Chandigarh, Friday, October 30, 1998
Epitomising the Indian tradition
By Nonika Singh
RAAJAN and Saajan Mishra. The famous vocalists who have entranced Hindustani classical music lovers the world over, are not identical twins.

And now Hindi rock "n"roll.
Audioscan by ASC

Gift to theatre lovers
By Rama Sharma
THE Amateur Dramatic Club, Shimla, could easily be described as the most famous, oldest and at one time the best-equipped club in the world.

In memory of Mukesh
By Sonoo Singh
"MUSIC, when soft voices die, Vibrates in the memory".., wrote Shelly.



Epitomising the Indian tradition

By Nonika Singh

RAAJAN and Saajan Mishra. The famous vocalists who have entranced Hindustani classical music lovers the world over, are not identical twins. Nor is there an uncanny resemblance between the two brothers. Raajan, with his bespectacled visage, has a sombre demeanour, while Saajan, younger by five years, possesses an affable countenance further enhanced by fair cherubic looks.

Yet, when their vocal chords blend in unison, unfurling the vast repertoire of ragas — on record is one for each hour, compiled in a 24 CD collection in Holland — but for the discerning listeners, it’s near impossible to tell them apart.

Exponents of Benaras style of singing, hailing from a family with a musical legacy dating back to three centuries, their formal initiation began under the auspices of legendary Bade Guru Ram Dass. However, their musical sensibilities and the momentous decision — the brothers must sing together — were shaped by none other than their own father Pt Hanumanth Prasad Mishra and uncle Gopal Mishra, both wizards in the intricate and complex art of sarangi playing.

Raajan, the more vocal sibling who continues to dominate the conversation reflects, "Both our father and uncle displayed foresight and acumen in realising back then that if we share the stage, we stick to each other". So the common passion for music has forged an inseparable bond between them and their credo line is to spread the message of brotherhood and love.

Meandering through the streets of Benaras, dotted not only by the sacred Ganges, but also peopled by simple unpretentious, unassuming men and women, their musical journey began via sammelans at Sankat Mochan Mandir in the holy city. The inherent strength, of Indian classical music, the duo aver is its linkage with the Vedic tradition. Music and religion for Mishra brothers are bywords for each other. Small wonder their music room in Delhi from where they disseminate Saraswati to disciples is enconsced within a temple in the ambit of their home.

Keeping alive the guru-shishya parampara — no fees is charged — they assert, "The tradition of yore has not turned dysfunctional in modern times. Only now the guru has to ensure and train his students in a manner that they are not impervious to outside influences and can not only take on the outside world but also learn ably from external forces."

However, learning for them doesn’t involve bowing to market pressures or popular demand, as the brothers have refrained from diluting the purity of shastriya sangeet. They question, "Who are we to create new ragas named after us? We are willing to experiment, but within the defined parameters. For instance, if there exist four compositions in Raga Malkaus, we can add one more composition."

The incredibly gifted singers also dismiss the suggestion that hybridisation is essential to popularise classical music or that "pucca" ragas are beyond the common man’s level of intellect.

Sure classical music’s reach is limited, but Raajan exclaims, "Our — I mean all Indians’ — constant refrain is that our ‘Bharitya sabhayata’ is under attack. But tell me, what are we doing to counter the propaganda, the gyrating semi-clad visuals unleashed at us via the satellite invasion? The government with its vast resources and innumerable cultural bodies can make a vital difference by involving artistes in the cultural decision-making policy, but the real onus rests on people alone."

Still the duo is not disheartened or dismayed for they contend, "Music is nature’s instrument to create harmonious balance and not a stimulant to cajole one to drive full speed in an inebriated state or to indulge in physical gesticulations. Ultimately, people will have to return to their musical roots for Indian music alone possesses magnetism and power to provide a balm to frayed nerves."

Already they feel the renaissance has started, the tribe of true connoisseurs growing by the day. While they have performed in the USA, Europe, Russia and have even been granted honorary citizenship of Baltimore city, USA, the real "daad" — special requests for playing particular ragas — has come their way in their own land of birth alone.

However, be it hordes of ardent admirers — only recently they performed in Chandigarh to a packed "pandal" — unadulterated praise, scathing criticism or a string of awards (ranging from Kaalidas Sanman, Sanskriti Award, Kumar Gandharva Sanman, UP Sangeet Natak Academy Award to Sangeet Naik and Bhusans), their unswerving commitment to music remains unfazed.

Music for them is akin to "tapasya, pooja" in which money — yes the final barometer of one’s mettle in today’s world — and fame are sheer peripherals. The only ambition they harbour in their hearts too is rather unwordly — to be able to reach a pinnacle where music will translate into silence. A divine trance!

With each new concert and a fresh album (24 to their credit, latest being Deepavali), their quest continues. Their saga to transcend beyond the mechanical frontiers of excellence remains untainted by arrogance or delusions of self-grandeur. Even at the zenith of their career, blowing their own trumpet is an anathema. They ponder, "Only a tree that is slightly bent can weather the gusty winds of a storm." Epitomising the great Indian tradition the brothers themselves stand as a living testimony to the dictum "humility is the greatest teacher."Top

Audioscan by ASC

And now Hindi rock "n"roll

DHOOM (Archies Music; Rs 30): Euphoria is a Delhi-based band comprising Palash "Polly" Sen, Debajyoti "DJ" Bhaduri, Manjit "Gussy" Rikh, Benjamin "Benny" Pinto, Hitesh "Rikki" Madan and Mayukh "Raja" Hazarika. The young energetic team has been the pioneer in playing original music in public performances since 1992. This is their maiden album.

The unique selling point of this mix of rock-n-roll and retro rock is the "Hind rock ‘n’ roll", although the album has considerable variety. On the one hand, we have the soft acoustic Tumse pyaar ... and on the other there is the raunchy Body love .... Their stress on the Indian percussion instruments provides a wonderful experience in the folk ballad Dhoom pichuck ... featuring Shubha Mudgal. The music video of this title track set in Varanasi is also out of the ordinary.

The band has been made bold to even include a ghazal sort of number, Dilli ... , and serious songs like Maa ... and Aamne saamne ...

Lyrics are by Dahlia, Palash, Debleena and Sam.

If they carry on the good work that they have started, a bright future is very much on the cards.

SURAJ (BMG Crescendo; Rs 55): Punjabi music is on the ascendancy all over the country. The so-called rap and rock groups too are falling back on bhangra music regularly. Making the most of the opportunity, Jagtaar Jagga, who is confined mostly to Punjab, has attempted to mark a national presence through this cassette. The path he has chosen is the same as that of Gurdas Mann and Daler Mehndi, but the vehicle is not quite that efficient.

The trouble is that to cater to the national tastes, one has to adopt to an almost western beat. Jagga’s songs are far too steeped in the typical Punjabi music to appeal to the hep-crowd. Jatti raidua bajaye naale ... is the kind of low-brow stuff more suited for the rural Punjab than a metropolis.

He has eight songs here. The longest is Maye ni maye ... which runs into almost eight minutes. This is the only song not composed by Jagga himself (it has been written and composed by H.M.Singh). One song that stands above the rest is Suraj ... written by Naqsh Lyallpuri and Jagga.

Kinni sohni... has been written as well as composed by Jagga. It is in two versions, the traditional one and a DJ mix.

CARVAAN GUJAR GAYA (Venus; Rs 30) Venus has been recording the poems of well known Hindi poets in their own voices under its "Kavya Manthan" series. This is a welcome addition to that series.

Padma Shri Dr Gopal Das Neeraj is a poet who needs no introduction. Most of his offerings have a raw human element making them a piece of art not only to be admired but to be incorporated into one’s daily life. Here he sings 13 of them in his melodious voice.

The title song and Chandni mein ghola jaye ... are well known. The ones that one enjoys even more are Aadmi ko aadmi ... , Ye Neeraj ki Prem Sabha ... and Jaagte rahiye jagaate rahiye ....

The introductory notes have been written by Dr Ramji Tiwari of Mumbai University Hindi Department and presented by Mrinalini Singh. Amidst the cacophony of instruments, this kind of cassette comes in as a whiff of fresh air. Top


Gift to theatre lovers

By Rama Sharma

THE Amateur Dramatic Club, Shimla, could easily be described as the most famous, oldest and at one time the best-equipped club in the world. With its glorious past of 160 years, the ADC has become an important part of rich cultural heritage of the township.

The Shimla ADC produces a few plays in a year, when amateur theatre lovers get together to enjoy this summer treat. Two one-act plays staged this month at the historic Gaiety Theatre, located on The Mall, "Remember Caesar" in English and "Darkhwast" in Urdu were runaway success.

The English play revolves around the tension in Judge Lord Western’s mind when he finds a stray piece of paper in his pocket with only two words "Remember Caesar" written on it.

It opens with Lord Weston, a famous judge deliberating on the virtues of his bright academic record, hard work and clear vision, which have enabled him to attain the great heights of his career, suddenly scared to death on finding a stray note in his pocket with "Remember Caesar". The date being March 15, the day when Julius Caesar was murdered, the judge gets panicky that he too will be assassinated. His feverish imagination runs riot and so does the entire household, including Clark Roger, the pantry-maids and the gardener.

But the flippancy of Lady Weston to treat the incident as a big joke lends the action fine dramatic and immense humour. Particularly when the packet of a velvet cloak delivered by the tailor for the judge is drowned in a bucket full of water, thinking that it contained an explosive to kill the judge.

Brig Sushil Bhasin’s fine and at times loud acting was in tune with the main character.

Sunita Bhimbrahw as Lady Weston acquitted herself creditably and her flippancy stole the show.

The Urdu play "Darkhwast" was adapted competently from Anton Tchekaov’s "Proposal" by Prof G.R. Sood. The slick adaptation kept the packed house fully entertained throughout.

Col Rajiv Tiwari as Yasin stole the show with his Lucknawi accent. Neeti Chopra as Ayesha and Anil Sharma as Kumar were good.

The story revolves around Ayesha on the one and and Kumar, their neighbour, on the other when they fight for the ownership of a plot of land and ultimately settle for matrimony.

Both plays were directed by Professor Sood, one time art critic of The Tribune based at Shimla, and were the part of the programme to celebrate the 8th Raising Day of the Army Training Command,Shimla. Lt-Gen Vijay Oberoi, president, ADC, Shimla, distributed souvenirs to the artistes.Top


In memory of Mukesh

By Sonoo Singh

"MUSIC, when soft voices die, Vibrates in the memory".., wrote Shelly.

And how true, when we think of the age-old songs in the melodiously timbre voices of the likes of Mukesh. Whether it was Sajan re jhooth mat bolo ... or Bhooli huyee yaado, mujhe itna na satao ... or the highly popular song for all ‘Majnus’ Jis gali mein tera ghar na ho balma ... Mukesh has always been able to move his listeners in a stirringly poignant manner.

Mukesh, who started his career under the influence of the great maestro, K.L. Saigal, by first copying him and then gradually evolving his own exceptional style, is most remembered as the "voice of Raj Kapoor", having sung some hit songs for him like Awara hoon ... and Mera joota hai Japani ....

Little wonder that when the Payal Musical group organised a Mukesh nite at Tagore Theatre, Chandigarh, last week, the hall was not only full to capacity, but also had people standing in order to listen to their all time favourites.

The evening, "Mukesh ki Yadein-6", began with the beautiful Jyot se jyot jalate chalo, prem ki Ganga bahate chalo ..., in N.S. Vardhan’s voice. This sightless singer from Tamil Nadu also belted out Ek raat main do do chaand khile ... along with an upcoming artiste Ritu Sharma.

It was Harkesh Thakur, also fondly called the "Mukesh of Chandigarh", who walked away with the maximum round of applauses from the audience.

In his silvery smooth voice he sang O mehbooba, o mehbooba... His renderings of Mukesh’s ever-popular Main to ik khwaab hoon ... and Mere toote hooye dil se koi to aaj ye poochhe ... had the audiences clamouring for more. And the audience was literally on its feet when he sang Ramayya vasta vayya....

Pawan Chopra bagan by singing Kayee sadiyon se, kayee janmon se..., and went on to sing Teri nigahon pe mar mar gaye hum... and Chanda re mori patiyan le ja..., a duet with Poonam Thakur, in his soft-sad voice.

The other singers included N.K. Talwar, Narinder Kumar and Vipin Sharma.Top

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