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Mesmerising music makers

The "Making of India" concert at the Image Auditorium held the audience in thrall

THE AUDIENCE danced in their seats, swayed to the music, nodded time, tapped their feet, clapped in ecstasy and beat on the seats in front of them — the Manganiars of Rajasthan were a runaway hit with the audience at the Image Aduitorium, where they performed this weekend at a concert titled "The Making of India." The five Manganiar musicians treated the audience to their musical collaborations that usually represent seasonal cycles and creation. Castanets, the khamayecha, a traditional three-stringed instrument and the dholak set off the powerful voices of Ustad Anwar Khan and Ustad Barkat Khan. Sindhi, Punjabi, Hindi and a touch of Gujarati go into their music. The Manganiars are part of the folk music tradition of Jaisalmer.

At the concert, they performed songs of devotion, celebrating creation and Nature. The song that essentially compared man to one of the many colours created by God was a happy and glorious celebration of the creation of man. The energetic castanets player Ustad Ghazi Khan Barana and the dholak player Ustad Firoze Khan seemed to race their way through the intricate rhythm patterns with Ustad Ghevar Khan cheering them on with his khamayecha.

Mridangam maestro Umayalpuram Sivaraman, who had given the inaugural recital, and the Manganiars then performed together. An energetic piece on the mridangam was followed by the dholak and the clacking of the castanets. Umayalpuram Sivaraman took off with vocal percussion, konakol and was joined by Ustad Anwar Khan, who produced his own set of castanets rattled and clacked them along with Ustad Firoz Khan on the dholak and Ustad Ghazi Khan Barana, also on the castanets. After a couple of minutes Umayalpuram Sivaraman put down the mike and went back to his mridangam to finish the jugalbandi, which he described as a "national integration of minds through music."

Later in the evening, love legends and stories were depicted harmoniously through Sufi music and dance. Soothing, mystical and very worldly in its powerful interpretation, the music troupe led by Madan Gopal Singh gave Chennai a taste of Sufism. The accompanying instruments for the singers were the harmonium, tabla, dholak, sarangi and a guitar.

In the Sufi tradition, music and dance are considered a form of communion with God and this was brought out in Navtej Johar's surreal dance performance. The measured movements had a hypnotic quality, as Johar seemed to go into a trance while he swayed back and forth to the devotional music.

The nearly four-hour-long concert was presented by Swaralaya, a forum for promotion of Indian art and culture, Sahmat, a platform for creative action in defence of democratic traditions of India and the Media Development Foundation, a non-profit trust.


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