Posts Tagged Vande Mataram

A Journey of Raagas in Hindustani Music


 

Image may contain: 3 people, indoorDarshana Bhuta Music Academy gave its 9th annual recital at JCNC, Jain Temple in Milpitas, CA.  Darshanaben, a mother and grand-mother is a highly accomplished artist.  Her accomplishments include numerous music Bhajan albums and a Hindi album with the title “On My Own” with lyrics by Rajesh Johri and music composed, arranged, and conducted by Shree Ashit Desai. Her other albums, “Amrit Bindu” and “Mere Praan Anandghan” were distributed by Venus Records. A woman of many talents, Darshanaben runs a highly successful music academy and her 45+ students range in age from 5 years to 85 years of age. All her students together gave an outstanding performance blending information, aalap, music and songs that included bhajans, ghazals, and Bollywood songs.

A raaga consisting of at least 5 notes, refers to the melodic mood in Hindustani classical music and is a central feature of Indian classical music, providing basic musical framework. There are 36 raagas and each one has emotional significance and is considered to be associated with season, time of day, and mood and each raaga is believed to have an impact on nature and is said to impact the emotions and mood of the audience. It is complicated to talk about raagas in this way but in this event it created an atmosphere of fun anticipation and adventure for the audience.

This entire program was organized around classical raagas that are considered suitable for different hours in the day. This incredible journey of raagas began with raaga Bhatiyaar that is sung in the first “prahar” or first hours of the day, between 4 am to 6 am. This raaga is said to possess healing qualities and to calm and console a grieved mind.

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Madhviben Mehta and Asimbhai Mehta gave commentary and performed the role of MC. Wife and husband duo are immensely popular musicians in their own right and enthrall audiences with their wonderful voices in various genres including geet, ghazals, bhajans, semi-classical songs and are bay area’s beloved raas-garba singers. They both have a number of albums to their credit which are available on iTunes and on Amazon music store.

Raaga Bhairav sung during the second prahar of the day between hours of 6 am and 12 noon, depicts peaceful, serious, and serene mood. The song from this raaga that Darshanaben had chosen was “Jago Mohan Pyare” from film “Jagte Raho”.  Raaga Charukeshi also sung during these hours, is newly adapted from Karnatik music to Hindustani music and is very melodious. The audience was enthralled listening to “Syam teri bansi pukare Radha naam” from the MC duo themselves, Madhviben and Asimbhai Mehta. Raaga Ahir Bhairav, is also sung during the second prahar of 6 am to 12 noon and depicts meditative mood of early morning hours. From 1963 film, “Meri Surat, teri ankhen”, the singers sang these beautiful lyrics…
Na kahi chanda, na kahi tare
Jyot ke pyase mere, nain bichare
Bhor bhi aas ki kiran na laayi
Pucho na kaise maine rain bitai

During the next prahar, from 12 noon to 4 pm, considered 3rd prahar of the day, raaga Bhimpalasi offers mood of bhakti and the singers sang Meerabai’s bhajan, “ari me to prem diwani”.  Also sung during this prahar, is raaga Brindabani Sarang that creates romantic and mystical mood.

Fourth prahar of the day begins towards the end of the busy day, from 6 pm to 8 pm. Raaga Bhopali sung at this time, known as Mohanam in Carnatic music, tends to be among the basic raagas of Hindustani music. Singers sang beautiful, melodious “jyoti kalash chhalke”. Raaga Yaman, also one of the  basic raagas, is sung during this fourth prahar and creates mood of bhakti and shringar, when a lover looks forward to welcoming the beloved. The halls reverberated with two beautiful melodies, “jab deep jale aana” from film Chitchor and “chandan sa badan” from 1968 film Saraswatichandra.  Raaga Madhuvanti also sung in the 4th prahar of 6-8pm, expresses gentle loving sentiment and all students sang together to honor this raaga.

The fifth prahar in the 24 hour cycle, takes us in the early  hours of the night between 8 pm and 10 pm. Raaga Kedar sung at this time, is offered in melodies to Lord Shiva and is therefore placed on a high pedestal in Indian classical music. Next, all students joined also by their Guru, Darshanaben and the MCs, together sang “Vande Mataram”, the national song of India, in Raaga Des and rightfully created a mood of compassion. Raaga Khamaj, also sung during these hours, creates light and enthralling mood and is sung in thumris, thappas, and bhajans. Singers sang Gandhiji’s favorite, Meerabai’s bhajan, “ Vaishanav jan to tene re kahiye”.

Raaga Kirvani creates a somber and romantic mood and raaga Bageshri creates a mood of “virah” or longing and are sung during the hours of 10 pm to 12 am when night is still young for lovers, especially for lonely lovers. As melodious song “Radha na bole re” was sung, it had just that effect.

The seventh prahar, between 12 am to 2 am offers two raagas.  Raaga Malkauns is one of the oldest raaga and renders serious and meditative mood, befitting the midnight hours. This raaga is believed to have calmed Lord Shiva and the group sang “pag ghungharoo bandh”. Raaga Darbari is a popular raaga sung deep in the night and is said to have therapeutic effect and to cure insomnia.  Audience revelled in the lulling melody “tora man darpan kahlaye” sung in this raaga. Literal translation of these lyrics is Your mind is the mirror. That reflects both good and bad, It watches the flow and reveals to all!

Last or eighth prahar in a 24 hour music cycle occurs between the hours of 2 am and 4 am. Raaga Kalawati is said to to create a pleasant, serene and welcoming mood for the new day, in the early hours.  The MCs sang beautiful composition “Shubh Swagatam” that was a welcoming song in recent Asian games opening ceremony. Shree Ashit Desai conducted Pandit Ravi Shankarji’s orchestral compositions for this song.  Raaga Bhairavi offered at the end of this beautiful journey of raagas is said to create an atmosphere of piety and amicability. When the group sang Zaverchand Meghani’s “kasumbino raang”, honoring the motherland, it had a truly mesmerizing effect on the audience.

img_20170204_194545123.jpgSuch an outstanding program not only speaks very highly of our beloved Darshanaben but also of the community of parents and singers in the bay area who support the academy and graced this occasion. A very special mention goes to the chief guest Shree Alap Desai who made a special journey from India, for this event. There aren’t words to describe this amazing young artist, singer, and composer. Born to artists and recipients of numerous distinctions and awards, Shree Ashit and Hema Desai, Alapji began his musical journey at a young age of 3 and has never looked back. He offers originality in his music and enthralled the audience with two beautiful songs, a bhajan, “baje muraliya baje” and a ghazal, and ended the program to a standing ovation from a packed audience.

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Vande Mataram – Play Review


Flag adopted by the Indian National Congress i...

Flag adopted by the Indian National Congress in 1931. First hoisted on 1931-10-31 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Let me take you back to the year, 1942”, thus begins the play, taking the audience back to August 8, 1942, the day when Gandhi launched the “Quit India” movement, against the British.  Based on real events, the story of Keezhariyur Bomb Case in Malabar, Kerala is adapted for stage by brilliant playwright and director, Sujit Saraf and produced by Gopi Rangan.

 

India, in 1942, was a diverse nation, divided by languages, dialects, caste, class, religion, and loyalties, and divided by the lack of infrastructure, in the analog age.  India’s struggle to rid itself of the colonialism has to be as complex and multifaceted, as its people.  It is even a marvel that Gandhiji managed to unite the nation and helped achieve India’s independence, spearheading the struggle under the banner of non-violence.  But there were various rebel groups and leaders, with their own brand of nationalism, their own value system, their own worldview, and their own interest in future independence of India, that resulted in multitude of little struggles.  Some of these ended in small scale violence, only to ignite a sizeable imperialistic response, some puttered and fizzled out, some joined forces with others, and eventually most gave their support to Gadhi’s non-violent struggle for independence.

 

The characters of this play, tell the story of one group of Indian rebels, in the 1940s, in the backward state of Bihar (at the time), and the superb cast makes them truly memorable.  Led by a Colorado trained professor, brilliantly played by Salil Singh, a small group of rebels discuss the plan to shake up the Brits, with some strategic bomb blasts.  Sujit Saraf, in the role of a renegade Congressman, is equally superb, as he straddles the issue between allegiance to Gandhi’s perspectives and participation in the Professor’s activist stance.  Mukund Marathe and Amol Deshmane, in the role of two brothers at odds with each other, coming together to finance the rebel project, are also fantastic.  Their participation in the project, heals their earlier wounds and they are both in agreement that that their businesses not suffer any harm on account of their participation in this project.  Surender Singh, also fantastic, in the role of the restaurantor, provides the space for the project.  Soumya Chakravorty, plays the role of Banwari, recruited to build and detonate the bombs.  Banwari refuses to work alongside Muslims, he is in equal measure prejudiced, fanatic, stupid, and a victim of his circumstances, who looses his land to land owners but feels compelled to do something, against injustice.  Chakravorty is absolutely brilliant in this role.

 

This group of individuals could not be more different, in terms of their interests and affiliations, their cynicism, idealism, and ambition, and are coming together and uniting in one cause, independence of the nation.  Will this group, so flimsily connected, stay true to the cause and hold together or will it fall apart by betrayal, stupidity, or other self-interests?  Irrespective of whether they will succeed or fail, this is a fantastic play about human endeavors to be free, at the very basic level.  It is a play that brings out the complexity inherent in the task of nation building.  Saraf moved the story to Bihar (from the real life incident, that took place in Kerala), so that it can be produced in Hindi.  Eventual language is a beautiful mix of Hindi, Bhojpuri, and Marwari.  Excellent set design is by Siva Kollipara.  Vineeta Singh and crew have done great job in set building.  Sowmya Ballakur has provided supertitles, so the play can be enjoyed by non-Hindi speaking audience members as well.   And once again, I will say the entire cast is brilliant and the acting is flawless.

 

Vande Mataram is playing to sold out audiences.  Book your tickets early.  For registration, go to www.naatak.com .

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