A thunderous beat
Nine drummers have flown all the way from Japan to Mumbai to perform in Lower Parel this weekend.
Together they comprise Tenko, a traditional wadaiko drumming group, and are performing as part of the second edition of the Cool Japan Festival, a three-day celebration of Japanese food and culture.
Wadaiko, or taiko for short, are traditional Japanese drums that produce a rolling sound, resembling thunder. Wadaiko was traditionally performed to appease the gods, but is now also played at weddings, festivals and ceremonies.
A typical wadaiko performance starts with a steady beat accompanied by a chorus. As the act progresses, the drummers raise the tempo and the pitch of the chorus, ending with rapid beats and quicker formations.
Tenko was founded by wadaiko teacher Namiko and includes her husband, Khu, and their 11-year-old son Domu.
“We performed here last year and discovered that, unlike in other countries, audiences here don’t just listen. They feel the rhythm,” says Namiko, the founder of Tenko. “So we really wanted to come back.”
This time around, the group will also perform with Sarbjit Singh Chadha, a Delhi-based businessman who studied in Japan and sings in the Enka Japanese folk music style.
— Humaira Ansari
Ways of seeing
Through the bars of an intricately carved window, two boys and a goat look back at you grimly. In the background, colourful swathes of fabric seem to dance in a fierce wind.
The painting, titled ‘Window’, takes its titular central element from an actual casement in Lakkar Bazaar, near Mohammed Ali Road in Mumbai, back in the late 1970s.
At the time, artist Anjolie Ela Menon — originally from Tamil Nadu — was living in the city with her husband and spent hours in Lakkar Bazaar, scouring the shops for junk jewellery and antique furniture, recurrent motifs in her works.
Earlier, she had lived in the city while studying at the Sir JJ School of Art, an institute she quit six months into her course, to continue her quest for her own artistic identity.
“In these works, the window became the location, the metaphor, for the momentary revelation of hidden lives, stories and I as the artist, the voyeur, the sutradhar,” says Menon, via e-mail.
‘Window’ is now among 43 works on display in Menon’s first solo exhibition in Mumbai in eight years. Comprising works created between 1970 and 2013, it is, in Menon’s words, a mini-retrospective.
Thus the works selected represent the different phases and styles that characterise Menon’s oeuvre. All have been sourced from private art collectors.
For Menon, now one of India’s most respected artists, it is a homecoming of sorts. “I love showing in Mumbai,” says the 74-year-old Padma Shree awardee. “For so many years Mumbai was my city, my inspiration, the crucible of my evolution as an artist.”
— Riddhi Doshi
Way back in the 13th-century Delhi Sultanate, Amir Khusro (1253-1325), a devotee of Sufi saint Nizamuddin Auliya and a Sufi philosopher and mystic himself, was writing poems and reportedly inventing the sitar and tabla while also weaving elements of Hindustani and Persian musical traditions together to create the qawwali.
These were unique, religious songs in Urdu and Punjabi, dedicated to Allah and the saints, termed qawwalis from the Arabic ‘qaul’, meaning ‘an utterance (of the Prophet)’.
In subsequent years, qawwals or qawwali singers devoted to Sufi saint Nizamuddin Auliya would form the roots of what is now the Delhi gharana.
This Saturday, these two strands of history will combine in an evening dedicated to the compositions of Khusro, with Iqbal Ahmed Khan of the Delhi gharana performing Khusro ragas such as Shahana and Bahar.
“The ragas are not standalone numbers. Khusro later combined Shahana with Bahar to make Shahana Bahar. Similarly, he combined Shahana with Kanada and called it Shahana Kanada, another beautiful entity. I would like the audience to enjoy these melodies,” says Khan.
In addition, Khan will stage a performance of the Kalbana musical form, composed in six different beats or taals and also attributed to Khusro.
“Khusro was a master of rhythm. I want to acquaint music lovers with this side of his persona too,” says Khan. The vocalist, who has performed widely across the country and abroad, will be accompanied by Anutosh Degharia on the tabla and Niranjan Lele on the harmonium.
— Amarendra Dhaneshwar