Friday, December 4, 2009


Zakir Hussain, Shankar Mahadevan, Sivamani, U. Srinivas & Selva Ganesh = Magic!

This concert was aptly titled Heartbeats, coz there were times when I forgot to breathe and only the title reminded me to keep my heart going!

This was the first concert of its kind that I have ever attended. No songs that I knew, nothing that I even understood. Yet, it was a mesmerizing experience. Initially, we were sitting on chairs allotted to us but soon I realized that I couldn't even see the screen from that position, forget about the stage. So my purse and jacket rested peacefully in my seat while I stood at the end of my row and looked on. That was when I got the feel that I was watching a live concert! My friend, who inititally refused to leave his seat, claiming that he only wanted to "listen" and not see what was going on, soon ditched his seat and joined me. I don't know why it was so important to see. I guess, if I hadn't seen, then it would have been like hearing it on radio or something.

As I watched on, the magic unfolded on stage. At first, they all played and sang together, which was chaotic but good fun. My main pain point was that Selva Ganesh and Zakir Hussain kept playing together and I couldn't distinguish between the sounds of their instruments (Kanjira and Tabla respectively). Thankfully there were solos so good for me :D After the initial jugalbandi, there was Sivamani and Srinivas (mandolin) jugalbandi. Half the stage was dedicated to Sivamani and his percussion instruments. Towards the end of this piece, Sivamani went solo and it was a delight to watch him produce music from ghungroo, drums, thalis, water drum etc. He did his famous stick flipping stunt also, which drove the crowd absolutely wild.

Next to go solo was Selva Ganesh an he literally amazed with the speed of his one hand. He held the Kanjira in the palm of his left hand and let go at it full force with his right hand! His fingers were mostly a blur as he used the inner circumference for sharper sounds and outer part of the Kanjira for more bass beats. I was, as usual, hollering, because I still haven't learnt to whistle :(

The next performance was Shankar Mahadevan and Srinivas's jugalbandi. Shankar Mahadevan sounded like an angel from heaven and Srinivas provided the perfect melody that when combined with Mahadevan's voice, put me in a trance. This was followed by a fun-filled jugalbandi with all 5 stars with Mahadevan singing a piece, Zakir Hussain following it on tabla, Srinivas on his mandolin, Ganesh on his Kanjira, Srinivas on his drums, and then back to Shankar! I remember at one point I was holding my breath with my mouth wide open. I'll never forget that bit :D

The grand finale of course, was a solo piece by the maestro, Ustad Zakir Hussain. I think a part of the solo piece that will always stay with me is when he was moving his head and body in rhythm with the music he was playing. It was like he was sending out a message, you cannot make music that moves others, unless it moves you first. The camaraderie between the participants in any concert is one of the high points and I observed that while playing the toughest (or fastest) pieces, they would all look at each other and smile, as if sharing a secret.  I can still hear the strains of the mandolin and the beats of the tabla. Truly, an experience I'll always cherish :D

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