Sunday, July 17, 2011

Tara'sri' is part of Sunaad in Benagluru

Sunaad presented Swar Katha Upanishad at the Jagriti theatre and Tara was part of the event which, to borrow a line from Sunaad is all about Drupad, Drama and Divinity. It proved to be a heady mixture and I am still under its influence after I saw the first show on the 14th July and am eagerly looking forward to the 17th July one!

Tara is known as Tarasri in Sunaad. The other two Taras are 'TaraRa'jagopal who introduced Tara to Sunaad and 'TaraKi'ni who is the Director.

Quite a while ago, one Saturday morning, I woke up to see that Tara was all set for a walk! When I raised my eyebrows, she said: 'I told you about a group who practice music every Saturday on Sankey road!' I nodded and gallantly offered to drop her and continue to do so! It is almost impossible to get an auto early in the mornings in Bengaluru.

That is all I knew about Sunaad and that they were very nice people and very committed. Tara'sri' said that they hailed from all over Bangalore, from Indira Nagar, Koramangala and so on. I am used to getting up early in the morning to play Tennis and that made sense in 'hot' Bangkok. But getting up on a weekend in the glorious weather of Bengaluru for Music was beyond me!

It is only when I saw their program Raag Katha at Jagriti some months ago I got to know more about them. The event was really an exhiliaring experience. In fact, I recorded a few songs and placed it on my FB page. And the theatre Jagriti was an equally unexpected delight. I did not know such amazing theatres existed in Bangalore. I have heard of Ranga Shankara but have not seen it yet.
Sunaad is about, to quote from their FB: Many Voices... one passion.
Sunaad is an eclectic group of singers from Bangalore city composed of the school-going and retired, professional performers and hobbyists, home makers and working professionals, all of whom share a common passion – a love for Hindustani classical music.

As one can guess, the task of putting together a program of this dimension is monumental and with actors participating in addition to the singers, it would be real hard work. I can vouch for it as Tarasri has been practically missing the last two weeks! I can imagine about the others as many also went to Bhopal for practice and a number of them live far from the venues of practice.  If you read the flyer about 'How did it all come together' (I hope they will publish it in their website), you will understand how complex was the process!

  It was fortuitous for Sunaad that Gundecha brothers offered to compose music for them. I was even fortunate to attend their practice session with Ramakanthji in Bangalore . An experience I cherish and also the opportunity to meet the gracious brothers again having met them in Bangkok. Nice of  Taraki to let me listen in.

 Sri M whose autobiography is a fascinating read, spoke to Sunaadians about the story of Nachiketa and especially about the 45 slokas which were chosen for this swar katha. Again it was lucky that I could attend one of the very thought provoking lectures by Sri M.

The more I thought about the program my only concern was, will they pull it off? They did and how!
 The fact that there were 29 participants and they switched from one group of singers to another, instruments and actors came in and out seamlessly without a baton waving conductor was impressive and actors spoke without the support of a prompter. It was as if everyone knew how the whole program went and that could come only by practice and more practice.

There were a number of wonderful reactions and I borrow a few from their site.

Dear Sudha,

Absolutely a super evening - thanks for your invitation, and remembering me. Besides the excellent and unique presentation, I was delighted to catch-up with many old friends whom I had not been in touch for years. My comments are best expressed in my e-mail to Vivek, as below:
Last evening Sudha had invited me to her music group "Sunaad's" unique and superb presentation of "Swar Katha Upanishad". I attended it with Vasanthi, at a very special auditorium 'Jagriti' at Whitefield. Sudha was participating as one of the singers, under the guidance of their charismatic and enthusiastic guru Tara Kini. This was a very unique interpretation of Katha Upanishad with Dhrupad music in a very contemporary style, with the recounting of the story and philosophy of life and death (in English) narrated by Yama to Nachiketa, whom his father  had dedicated to him, interspaced with Drupad rendition of the Slokas by the singers (in Sanskrit). I must confess that the music was so soothing that really put us in a trance! To it, was added the most powerful interpretation of the life and death philosophy by Yama, excellently crafted. They succeeded in conveying what they had stated in their own words: "... the realization that the Katha Upanishad is not about death, but about life, about living."
I am sure the next performances will be equally great. Keep it up....
With love, Uncle Ashit
Ashit K Sarkar

....anyway it was a memorable evening and a wonderful opening to Sunaad's most ambitious project yet. A lot of people I did not know, too came up to me and were extremely appreciative.

Ramakantji said that he did have a few misgivings about a largish group like us pulling it off, but was proved wrong and said that we sounded very "professional". Thank you Tara and All.
I think feeling it made all the difference.
Good luck for the rest of the days!

Dear All,

Srinidhi felt that we all deserved a standing ovation. ( They did the next day!) Geeta Hegde was amazed by the clarity of the voices and highly appreciated the choice of ragas. She said that we had maintained the sur and of course praised our adorable Nishant. The Hegdes' were very happy to have been there for the show as they had no clue about what to expect and were pleasently surprised by the way the program was packaged. I also think that the warm up and silence till the
start of the show helped maintain our focus.
With Pranams and warmest greetings to our guru, Tara Ki for Guru Pournima.
With love
Tara Sri

A Huge Congrats to everyone who starred today!!

Ramakanthji told us that our sur was indeed perfect.
Best of Luck for tomorrow, in the hope that by the time we finish all these shows, we will have realized the self. (just kidding)

The Sunday show:
 While the first day was very good, I could perceive a little bit of tension in the performers. The Sunday show went amazingly well. I guess, as Nishant hoped, they all had realized that, if not the self, they had jelled well as a group and gave a splendid show!
I had asked Tarasri  what she thought was the defining moment. I suppose it is difficult to say as there was so much one could choose from. It was the play- the acting, the costumes, the setting and so on for the drama buff; the clarity of the sloka for the sanskrit scholar and purity of the swara for the lover of music.

It is best I quote Tara Kini:
Dear SKU team
 I think we were all in a different world the whole of the last week -rising, rushing through morning chores, including getting the costumes ironed, packing for the afternoon and rushing to Jagriti. Then it was a well-oiled flow from snack to changing to warm up to silence and then performance!
The response of the audience and the packed theatre on all four days has been quite heady! I for one, never imagined, that such a serious theme, with such deeply classical music would be so popular. It makes me re-think the meaning of the word popular! We normally think of it as Pop culture. But what appeals to many is true excellence in any field. That to me is a discovery.
 The fact that a group of non-professional musicians with perhaps very little experience in theatre, could render a show like SKU that became 'popular' because the quality was high, as certified in all sincerity by some of the musical greats who were there and the seasoned theatre people we worked with, is a discovery.The discovery that complete and focused engagement leads to the development of all that lies surging within each of us, waiting to be ignited! I want to thank each of you for that complete and focused engagement that made this whole project so thoroughly enjoyable.

and I also quote this:-)
we are resuming regular Sunaad this Saturday - July 23rd - at 7 am - we will start exploring the Ragas we sang in SKU - in greater depth!
See you for sure!

In conclusion:
I did not take any pictures during the show as Tara kept reminding me about 'No photos and Videos' during the show. But here are a few before and after the show.
Those keen to see more could go on to their website and buy the DVD when it is released!

As I wait for our friends to arrive I looked around the foyer.


As we wait for the show to begin.

The show begins!
Final moments:
After the show:
Nishant waits for Guru Lalit Rao, on the left, to come up the stage.

In the foyer after the show.

The work is never done. Time to pack up!
A job well done! Time to say bye!


Tara Kini said...

Wonderful documentation of your view of Sunaad and the coming together of this show, Srinidhi!

Thank you very much for this! I loved the photos and your take on all the proceedings - as a person who was very much a part of it all via TaraSri!

Your photos of the show gave us a glimpse of the visual scene that we could not see as the singers never could turn and watch what the actors were upto!

Really enjoyed reading every bit of your blog! Will encourage all the others to see it too!


Vir said...

How wonderful to see Sunaad and Swar Katha Upanishad through your eyes - notes, quotes and photos! Thank you so much for this wonderful post and your support! :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Tarasri and Srinitara,
It was a wonderful experience at the Jagriti Theater last evening. I normally have not been following Nidhis blogs but caught up with this as we were part of the "happening"!
Tara, you are really your mothers daughter in the true sense of the word!!
Keep moving and all the best.

Kesari said...

Lovely toe-tapping folk song on FB. Thanks for sharing.
Your camera remains focused on only 2 ladies in the whole troupe! Hmmmm
Do I read anything into that? :D

srinidhi said...

Kesari thanks for your comments! I have linked a sufi composition on 'songs'. Thanks for noticing tht both 'songs' and 'FB' were linked to the same toe-tapping folk song!

Nandini Shrinidhi said...

Congratulations, Amma! It's wonderful that you found the Sunaad group so you could be part of this. These must be the fruits of the years (decades!) of learning and practice. Thanks for sharing the details, Appa.

Jayashree Mani said...

Aunty is great .. never stops exploring newer and different pastures..


Raji Murlidhar --Sunaad said...

Dear TaraSri and Srinidhi,
I just read your blog and want to say a Big Thank You.
I am sure all Sunaadians realize that without the support of the family it is not possible to get out of the house so often for practices. So Cheers to supportive husbands.

C S Balasubramanian--Sunaad said...

Cheers to supporting wives and children as well :-)

ramasamy said...

It was one of the most delightful evenings we've had in a while. Excellent choreography, lighting, sound and theme presentation.A lot of work has gone into it and the pleasure you have given is beyond expectations! Wonderful! May it be possible that you are inspired to produce more of the like. Thank you so very much.

Praneeta Varad said...

At the beach holidaying in San Juan, Puerto Rico and reading thru the blog and seeing the pics, we are 'at the show' so to speak. Very minutely observed indeed. I know we have missed a good evening. But, do look forward to being there at future efforts. Good show Nidhi, running alongside Tara in all her varied interets!

Keep them coming!


srinidhi said...

Hi Praneeta,nice to hear from you and thank you for your comments. I suppose running keeps me fit:-)

Have a great holiday and regards to Varadarajan!