Saturday, February 3, 2018

A Soulful, Melodious Evening At The Music Academy, Chennai!

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On 31st January, '18, we had attended a concert at the Music Academy.  The famous Ustaad Zakir Hussain played the tabla and another famous artiste Rahul Sharma played the unique instrument, Santoor.  We had attended Zakir Hussain's concerts 3-4 times earlier and are great fans of him as a person and as a tabla player.  His talent speaks everything here, in this small clip:



Ustaad Zakir Hussain is the son of the very very famous tabla player, Alla Rakha who used to play with Pt.Ravishankar (Sitar) in those days.  He learnt to play the instrument from a very young age and got a Ph.D. degree from the University of Washington too.  We, Chennai audience, love to attend his concerts.  He is a very soft-natured person with great sense of humour.  He always engages the crowd with some funny antics in the tabla or body language too.  People  never get bored in his concerts! Read about the awards these artists had in the highlighted wiki link pl. 

Rahul Sharma...we had attended his father's concert (Pt.Shivkumar Sharma, the famous Santoor player) once, some 4-5 years back along with Pt.Hariprasad Chaurasia (Flute).  This concert in Chennai was the first one for Rahul Sharma, it seems.  He played raag Bageshri first and then the famous Kashmiri raag Pahaadi.

This unique instrument, Santoor (the original name is Shatha thantri veena ... veena with 100 strings). Pt.Shivkumar Sharma explains here:

In Ancient Scriptures of India there is mention of Shata tantri Veena which is known today as “Santoor”. This instrument got its present name Santoor with the Persian language influence in our Country. There are Hundred Strings in Santoor. It is a hollow box on top of which there are 25 bridges. Each bridge used to have 4 strings resting on it. To play this instrument, two wooden mallets are used. This instrument had been in use in the Valley of Kashmir for many centuries, in a typical type of Music known as “Sufiana Mausiqi” which means a music connected with Sufi philosophy.

The Journey of Santoor changed in early 1950’s when Pt. Umadutt Sharma, Father of Shivkumar Sharma, who was a very versatile Musician, a performing Vocalist, and Dilruba player but equally well versed in playing Tabla & Harmonium, saw this Instrument in Kashmir and thought of introducing Indian Classical Music on Santoor. He had an intensive training of Music under Pt. Bade Ramdasji a legendary Vocalist of Benaras Gharana. In early 50’s Pt. Umadutt Sharma was Music incharge of Radio Srinagar for a few years. During that period he did an extensive research on Santoor and started teaching his Son, Shivkumar Sharma the intricacies of Santoor.

Pt.Shivkumar Sharma has passed on his family's talent to his son Rahul Sharma. 

The father was a tabla player too and the son is a singer too like his grand father! Multi-talented family! The son is mostly into fusion music nowadays.  World music. He showed the taste of fusion music for some 10-15 mts. at the concert.

Pt.Shivkumar Sharma and Pt.Hariprasad Chaurasia had created some good music for Hindi films in the name of Shiv-Hari.  Rahul Sharma played some traces of those songs in this concert.  The songs in 'Silsila' are memorable.  Their favourite raaga was Pahaadi!



I searched for a good link of Rahul Sharma.  Only audio links were available, well, mostly.  This link is interesting.  Father and son with the Kanjeera player, Selva Ganesh (Ghatam player Vikku Vinayakram's son!).  Interesting!



I hear 'Sangeet Saritha', a classical music programme via radio in the morning (I should say the programme involves interviews VIPs in different fields of mostly music).  I had been hearing this for the past 30-40 years! Many music directors, Classical singers discuss about their music/musical journey for 15 mts. a day, for 13 to sometimes 20 episodes.  7.30 to 7.45 am every morning.  I jotted down some points when Pt.Shivkumar Sharma spoke and did a post on it.  You can read it here!

Stress reliever....hear this!

Hope to attend more and more concerts in the years to come and write about them here!

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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Walk, Movie....Wire Walking Between The Famous Twin Towers...My Heart Was Coming Out....Tension...

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Dhadak dhadak...my heart was banging inside me loudly...it is long time since I felt so afraid while watching a movie! This movie, 'The Walk (2015)' is based on a true story and I love movies based on true stories! The story is about how an ordinary 24 year old Frenchman Petit, who was a juggler/street performer, walks across the Twin Towers (World Trade Centre)in New York on 7th Aug.1974.  He walked on a steel wire tied illegally overnight from the top of one tower to the top of the other tower, holding a 25 kg pole which weighed 25 kgs. This, he did without taking any safely measures.  He was particular about it.  He refused to do so when his mentor, Papa Rudy (Ben Kingsley) suggested it. His friends also were very ordinary people from different walks of life.  He was there, walking on the wire at sunrise for 43 mts. kneeling down, bending and looking at his admirers, walking to and fro to escape from the police on top of the towers...it is real thrill watching him and he had a smile on his face all the time.  It was his dream come true, but for us who are watching the remake of the scene, it was fear and admiration for the man.   Watch the trailer first.  More than half of the movie is about how these normal people plan and the rest is how his dream comes true.  I seemed to breath properly/normally, after it was over.  I didn't know anything about the movie, didn't know the end too and I have vertigo too:). So, it was a real 'dhadak dhadak' movie for me!

Read more after watching the movie in Prime (Amazon). 




You can imagine after watching just the trailer, how scary it was to walk on a steel cable wire in mid-air.

Joseph Gordon Lewitt who has acted as Philippe Petit is an American and had to learn colloquial French.  He learnt some wire walking from Petit himself.  Wiki says:

"Gordon-Levitt, who had no formal high-wire experience, trained directly with Petit. By the end of the eighth day, he was able to walk on the wire by himself, and continued to practice while shooting. Along with a stunt double,  the actor shot the climactic wire-walking scenes on a sound stage; it had reconstructions of the top two stories of the tower and a wire approximately twelve feet off the ground, which was connected out across a green abyss and was anchored on a pole. To learn more about what it was like, Gordon-Levitt also walked the distance between the World Trade Center memorial's two pools, which are located where the Twin Towers stood before the September 11 attacks. He visited the original observatory once before, in 2001, during his first summer in New York City. "It was touristy but I wanted to go do it. I remember it distinctly. It felt more like being in the sky than being on a tall building."

Petit made random friends who came into his life one by one which is shown nicely in the movie.  They went on top of the Word Trade Center often as workers, visitors etc. to learn the ropes.  I liked the way they showed how this idea sparked in his mind of wire walking between the Towers which are 450 ft. above the ground.   It was scary to watch the morning fog blinding the wire when he was walking.  The 3D picturization is superb.  The director, Robert Zemerickis has done a superb job.  Until I watched the movie, I didn't know that tall structures sway slightly during strong winds.  Joints in between the wires...you should watch the movie to know what I am talking about! It is superb!

This is the great man, who walked in the air, Philippe Petit
(Pic.courtesy: Wikipedia)

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