The evening in Desert Resort saw an interesting array from Raggae Rajahs, Parvaaz to Indian Ocean in collaboration with Pt Vishwa Mohan Bhatt and the saxophonist George Brooks, reports Chhavi Jain
On Day 2, echoing through the alleys of the Mandawa castle, we woke up with the soulful notes of the Rajasthani folk singer, Sumitra Devi. She was accompanied by a tabla, khartaal and a harmonium player. She sang bhajans of Meera and Lord Krishna, some acquired as a family legacy and others were compositions of her own. Maintaining the spirit of the colourful Rajasthan, what followed were some indigenous dance acts. Some men cross-dressed as women, some using the props of a horse, while others played instruments and sang songs at which the former danced, producing burlesque show. Men dressed in their traditional attire with swords in their hand and shield on their back, dancing in a circular formation to the beats of nagada.
A music ensemble with Anwar Khan as the vocalist, Ghazi Khan on the khartaal and various other artists on tabla, morchang and kamaicha (traditional Rajasthani folk instruments) brought in more people on the venue ‘Risala’, by the sheer power of the throw and pitch of their voices. Simultaneously, workshops in another venue ensured to acquaint the visitors with the native cultures of lac bangle-making, kite-making. Arrangements of mehendi artists applying henna, nagada players teaching the residents rhythms the instrument, brought us closer to the indigenous Rajasthan. A flea market invited exhibits from Jaipur- clothes, jewellery, objects for home décor, et al. CDs of music compilations of all the singers were also available for the visitors to take back as a token of memory.
High-pitched notes, perfect intonation and modulation and a brilliant texture of voice, next onstage was the most awaited Bhanwri Devi. Dressed In a yellow saree, concealing her face with a ghunghat (veil) laced with gota, she appeared dressier than ever and captured attention by the power of her music. Called the incarnation of goddess Saraswati by her troupe, her music reverberated the soul. We couldn’t stop singing along her famous rendition Thane Kathe.
SINGERS FROM THE DUNES
Later in the evening, the venue shifted to Desert Resort. Sand dunes, mud houses painted with white stick figures and other patterns added a distinct charm to the destination. In the lawns of the lower part of the property, named ‘Dhobi Ghat’, Ankur Tewari and the Ghalat family began a sensational musical evening. Urging the audience to leave their comfortable spaces around the bonfires, his engagement with the audience and his team members warmed up the stage area. The heart-warming performance was followed by others in the ‘Big Ibhah’. Prateek Kuhad, with a deep and throaty voice appealed to us. The organic compositions of the bilingual singer had very clear lyrical messages. Some like Go, Raat Raazi and Be at ease amongst others topped the charts.
With a dramatic entry onstage, next up were the Punjabi folktronica singers- Hari and Sukhmani. As they took turns between modulating music on the monitor and singing, the dynamic duo changed the mood of the space. The overall performance was an eccentric blend of a fast, electronic music and soft, melodious lyrics they had adopted from the Punjabi folk songs. The light mood amongst the audience invited them to give some eccentric moves as well! They were followed by Grain- Gaurav Raina, the pioneer of electronica. Set to explore the mundane the lyrics of his songs revolve around his own experiences, making the songs more relatable and enjoyable.
The line-up for the next day began in the Mandawa castle with the young and energetic performer Dhruv Vishwanath. Known for his exclusive and unique style of playing the guitar along with the drumming the wooden part to give added beats, making it a one-man show. The audience cheered and laughed as he produced humorous narratives of how he came up with each song. Rajasthan Josh, the group of folk singers of the Manganiyar tribe with Chugge Khan in the lead, a khartaal in his hand, they performed a number of compositions and cover songs. Afreen, once famously sung by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, caught up with the mood of the audience, as a Rajasthani and a Japanese dancer made the crowd dance along with them. Spotting Hari and Sukhmani in the crowd, Chugge Khan urged them to come on stage to perform. Their impromptu collaboration became the highlight of the festival, as the energy levels reached the top scale.
The evening in Desert Resort saw an interesting array from Raggae Rajahs, Parvaaz to Indian Ocean in collaboration with Pt Vishwa Mohan Bhatt and the saxophonist George Brooks. As Raggae Rajahs performed raps, Parvaaz gave a soft musical performance. The much-awaited collaborative performance began with Indian Ocean putting out some of their exclusives from their upcoming album. They were joined by George Brooks, and soon after by the legendary instrumentalist Pt Vishwa Mohan Bhatt. As the various instruments fused along to produce a heavenly harmony, the vocalists of Indian Ocean smoothly synthesised to make the performance a very memorable experience.
The festival concluded on the fourth day with exclusive renditions by Pt Vishwa Mohan Bhatt and, Prem Joshua and Band. The idea of promoting folk culture along with contemporary and classical fusions, in an archaic set up is truly splendid, and is off to a great start with the first edition of Taalbelia Festival.
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