‘If there were no Radha Krishna, there would be no music’

Debarati Palit Singh
Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Composer Tushar Bhatia and dancer Shambhavi Dandekar talk about their concert Gaur Baran Radhika to be held in the  city on Sunday.

The eternal love of Lord Krishna and Radha has been depicted several times on stage. Their relationship has been the foundation of romantic literature for poets and exponents of literature. At a music, poetry and dance concert, titled Gaur Baran Radhika, to be held in the city on Sunday, the relationship will be looked at from Radha’s perspective.

The concert, presented by Playpen Performing Arts Trust and Swardhara Events, will bring together three well-known artists — Tushar Bhatia (sitar player and composer), Aditi Kaikini Upadhya (vocals) and Shambhavi Dandekar (Kathak dancer) on stage.

Dandekar tells us that Indian classical concerts typically focus on one aspect — either music or dance. “But Gaur Baran Radhika is a nice crossover for the audience. The poetries — thumri and bhajan by Tushar bhai will take you a couple of centuries in the past,” she says.

The team has performed in the concert in Mumbai four years ago, and this is the first time they are performing in Pune. “I shifted to the USA and Tushar bhai was not ready to replace me even though I kept telling him to do that. We have been waiting to bring it to Pune,” adds Dandekar.

Breaking the norms
Dandekar, who is currently based in USA, says that while choreographing Gaur Baran Radhika, she has challenged herself. “After choreographing for 10-15 years, nothing excites you like it did in the past. But in Gaur Baran Radhika, I felt like going back and starting off again, because music, specially the lyrics and poetry is intense. I rediscovered myself as a choreographer. I wanted to break away from my team structure of choreography and how I treat poetry and music compositions,” says the dancer, who has also rendered a few solo tracks with Aditi Kaikini Upadhya.

The Kathak dancer adds that the choreography pieces are different from each other and those coming to watch the programme will get to see a nice variety of choreography and music.

To this sitar player and composer, Bhatia adds that there are new approaches to the traditional compositions. “These are original compositions, but a lot of thought has been given to how we wanted to present it because there are solo and group dance performances. I have experimented a lot with the composition,” he says.

Connect with the youth
It is believed that the youth is more attracted towards English programmes and losing touch with traditional and classical music. To retain their attention, Bhatia says that they are presenting the acts in capsules. “Usually at classical concerts, we have ragas going on for hours. But here each piece is of eight to nine minutes. When we were young, we also listened to Western music. But we also attended concerts by Zakir Hussain and Amjad Ali Khan. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with today’s youth, because Western music has been glamourised,” he adds.

From Radha’s perspective
Usually when Krishna and Radha’s story is depicted on stage, the former always takes the centrestage and the story is told from Krishna’s point of view. But Dandekar says that Gaur Baran Radhika is told from Radha’s perspective.

“In this concert, the Radha Krishna interpretation has been done differently. That’s because Tushar bhai and his family are ardent Krishna devotees and he pointed out that whenever their story is being told, Radha becomes a side-kick. He wanted to change that. The poetry is from the perspective of Radha and that has given a kind of grace and ornamentation to the pieces. That also makes the poetry stand out and has also inspired the choreography.”

Interpretation of Krishna
Each one of us interprets Krishna differently and he plays different kinds of role in our life. We worship him as god; to others, he is their teacher; his teachings become a way of life. “It is funny but my husband keeps telling me, ‘Krishna makes me insecure’. As Kathak dancers, Krishna becomes a part of our emotional journey. When we were younger, we started off with small pieces and as we grew, we did thumri and complex pieces,” explains Dandekar, adding, “Sometimes when there is a certain kind of void or emotional issue that I am facing, Krishna inspires me to overcome that. I think the way he has treated and enriched others’ lives is what is so inspiring about him.”

As for Bhatia, Krishna is the greatest composer. “I am a composer and so is he. He understands music. I come from a family that’s devoted to him, so I worship him. As I grew up and learned music, I realised that if there were no Radha Krishna, there would be no music, because every composition revolves around them.”

ST Reader Service
Catch Gaur Baran Radhika at Tilak Smarak Mandir, Tilak Road on January 14 from 11 am-1 pm

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