Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Manganiyar Seduction at the Purana Quila

Last Sunday, Delhi was witness to an amazing event - The Manganiyar Seduction conceived and directed by Roysten Abel. First created for the Osians to open the film festival in Delhi 2006, the show has since travelled the world, performing at Festivals in Sydney, Singapore, Holland, Dublin, London, France and at the Lincoln Center in New York last week before returning to India

The set is a vertical construction of 4 rows of 9 cubicles each lit up by tiny lights and covered with curtains. The curtain opens just before a performer makes his appearance in the piece and the lights turn on each time he performs, creating a wonderful visual spectacle to go with the music. The set up is influenced by the Hawa Mahal in Jaipur and the Red Light Districts of Amsterdam.This awe inspiring set is 3500kgs of solid wood and metal that takes a crew of 8 around 6 hours to set up.

The Manganiyars are a community of Muslim court musicians who hail from villages around Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Barmer. Their repertoire ranges from ballads about the kings to Sufi songs written by various mystics. And their music is a synthesis of folk music, Sufi music and Indian classical music.

The instruments played in this performance include the sarangi (considered the most difficult Indian instrument), been, khartal, kamancha, algoza and morchang among others

The performance is absolutely mind blowing. The range of instruments, the symphony, the collaboration and not a sheet of music in sight. This is one of those experiences, that if ytou have the fortune of witnessing it live, it will remian embedded in your mind and heart forever. JT - a wise friend of mine, who was also here, said " performances like these, remind us that any display of devotion other than music, seems so shallow in comparison"

The performers are all grounded in reality and go back to till their lands between performances. Abel attributes this to their past when they performed for royalty and then went back to their own homes. The group faces its own sets of problems when travelling. In their last trip to the US, they were 42 Khans in the group and 6 got held back for "special" questioning, their performer visas not withstanding, when they were asked to spell their mothers names in English. A tough job for the performers who barely understand English. But they persevere just for their music. And people like me are blessed to witness a performance in our lifetime.

Take a sneak peek at the videos here:

If you are impressed with what you see, then do consider buying the CD or LP from Amarrass Records who has created a non profit initiative - the Amarrass Society to help provide such traditional musicians and musical instrument makers with a sustainable livelihood which will eliminate their need to head to city and give up their traditional crafts. The CD is 500Rs and half the profit goes back to benefit the musicians and the craftsmen who supply their instruments. The Amarrass Society plans to also sell some of the instruments online giving the craftsmen a wider market than possible in their villages (many such craftsmen have migrated to the city to make furniture, forgoing their skills with instruments)


A Restless Mind With A Sensitive Heart! said...

Hey good to see a blog on Delhi and its happenings!!

welcome to blogospere! found u from Indiblogger!


Kim said...

Thanks, Restless :)

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