It’s a kinda magic

I quickened my pace towards the auditorium. SPIC MACAY had organised a two-day music fest. Eminent flautist Pandit Ronu Majumdar was to perform on the concluding day that afternoon. The hall was filling in as I stepped in. Panditji was already seated on the dais. I unobtrusively took up a seat somewhere in a middle row.

After the brief introductions, the flute maestro took over. He began with an afternoon raag, apt for the hour of the day. The alaap began and so did the murmurs. The audience consisting mostly of students, many of them first-time listeners of the classical genre, grew restive. The seasoned artiste stayed patient. He politely asked his edgy audience to close their eyes during the alaap and open only when the taal began with the beat of the tabla. It worked. The message got through and the young audience grew increasingly silent, visibly embarrassed by their uncouth behaviour. Such events by SPIC MACAY strive to introduce and initiate our youth to our rich classical and folk traditions so that they develop an ear for it.

Soon, the sonorous notes of the wind instrument wafted through and seemed to permeate every nook and corner of the dark space around. It was surreal. No wonder, Lord Krishna, the ultimate lover boy played it to mesmerising effect while wooing His gopis during raasleela, thus earning the sobriquet Muralidhar.

Moving on to familiar tunes to keep his hearers engrossed, he sang and played Saare Jahan Se Achcha by poet Mohammed Iqbal, the composition set to tune by Bharat Ratna Pandit Ravi Shankar. From the same Maihar gharana, he had the great fortune of training under the sitar virtuoso, he informed us.

Vaishnav Jan To, the composition by the 15th century Bhakti poet Narsinh Mehta, was next on his list. A trained vocalist, he crooned and alternatively played the bhajan, made famous by Mahatma Gandhi, holding his rasikas spellbound.  

Flute is nature’s sound. Imagine going to a bamboo groove and you may hear the same notes as wind passes through the holes made by insects in the hollow shoots of the bamboo. It’s the sound of the whistling woods, the veteran chuckled, keeping the session interactive so as to make it interesting for the greenhorns among his listeners.

The rookie audience lapped up his rendition next of a song by Blues singer Nat King Cole. “When you are courting a nice girl, an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red hot cinder, a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity,” Einstein had remarked while explaining his Special Theory of Relativity in layman’s terms. The same held true here. The hour flew like seconds, such was the magic panditji wove.

The first outing of the show the day before had had a shehnai recital by Pandit Daya Shankar. I had missed it owing to some prior engagements despite being there at the venue. I immensely regret missing it now.

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It’s a kinda magic

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