Ab ke sawaan..aise barse

Poorna Kulkarni
Friday, 19 July 2019

Barkha Ritu, a programme dedicated to monsoon raagas, will see performances by legendary santoor player Pt Shivkumar Sharma and vocalist Pt Shounak Abhisheki

We are a country which loves to celebrate. We have a song or a dance for every occassion and for something as significant as ushering in the monsoon, we have a whole set of raagas.

For an agriculture-dependent economy that wilts under the scorching sun, the pitter-patter of the first few raindrops, the drizzle and the subsequent downpour spell joy and bliss. And, if you have the pleasure of listening to classical musicians who transport you to that magical world with their compositions, what more would you want?

In the 18th edition of Barkha Ritu festival, organised by Banyan Tree, the connoisseurs of classical music can have the opportunity to hear some monsoon raagas presented by santoor maestro Pt Shivkumar Sharma and vocalist Shounak Abhisheki. The concert will be held this evening at Balgandharva Rangamandir. 

Mahesh Babu, director, Banyan Tree, says, “These days, we don’t get to hear traditional monsoon raagas on other days. So it is an opportunity for the artists to present and for the audience to listen to different forms of Raag Malhar.”

Pt Sharma, who is inspired by the rains, enjoys playing monsoon raagas. Says he, “Indian classical music is the only system in the world where the raagas are connected with the timings and seasons. That shows how our ancestors, musicians, thinkers and writers were so much in tune with nature. Therefore, they could think about timings of raagas and raagas of different seasons. Nowhere else in the world has this concept been explored. Kavi Kalidas wrote the epic Meghdoot inspired by clouds. As a musician, I am also inspired by the rains.” 

Everything in nature is in a rhythm and hence music is an inseparable part of nature. Shounak Abhisheki, one of the leading Hindustani classical vocalists and son of maestro Pt Jitendra Abhisheki, seconds the thought. He says, “In my growing up years, my father, who is also my Guru, not only taught me raagas but also explained the relation between nature and music. Music is an integral and inseparable part of nature and if you cannot observe and absorb from nature, your art would be lacking in depth. That is why we attempt to bring out the beauty of nature, in different forms, through our raagas.” 

He adds, “When it rains heavily, we perform raagas in Malhar. Or when we see a painting, we, as artists, always think how best we can blend it in music. I feel this should always be every artist’s approach towards art.” 

Monsoon ushers in a rush of nostalgia and a swell of emotions within us. Reminscing about his memories, Pt Sharma says, “More than two decades ago, I was scheduled to play at a concert in Mumbai in the month of July along with Ustad Zakir Hussain. We left home on time but reached the venue quite late because of heavy rains and to our dismay we found the hall empty. The organisers requested us to wait for some time. Luckily, after some time, the rain stopped and gradually people started trickling in. Within the next 20 minutes, the hall was jam packed and we played for almost three hours.” 

Pt Sharma also points out what makes monsoon so special in the country. He says, “India, in particular, welcomes monsoon after the scorching heat. The concept of appreciating monsoon is not present in the West because those countries have very long winter and a rainy day is not a beautiful day for them unlike us Indians. They call a sunny day ‘beautiful’ whereas we see beauty even on a cloudy day.” 

Abhisheki too narrates some fond memories of the season along with his ‘Guru Bandhus’. He says, “During the rains, I would go on a trip with them to Lonavala and Mahabaleshwar. In those times, these places weren’t crowded. The kind of greenery we get to see there in the rains, is absolutely soothing. It is a treat for audiences to listen to monsoon raagas and even we enjoy performing them as they are performed only once a year.” 

‘Barkha Ritu’ organised by Banyan Tree will be held today at Balgandharva Rangamandir from 6.30 pm onwards. The event is ticketed

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