On the penultimate night of the Celebrate Bandra festival, being held in partnership with Hindustan Times, Bandra Fort Amphitheatre reverberated with the harmony of several disparate instruments. ‘Koshish’, an evening of musical crossover conceptualised and composed by Shubha Mudgal and Aneesh Pradhan, had drums, the tabla, and other percussion instruments, all speaking to each other.
“Fusion has its merits but some things might get lost in the process,” said Mudgal before the show. “We’re attempting to bring together different schools and styles in musical dialogue with each other.”
Mudgal’s rich, powerful voice swelled the outdoor arena as the group performed older numbers and new compositions alike. “I’m driven by text when I compose,” said Mudgal. “I often start humming just looking at words.” Mudgal and the group have performed ‘Koshish’ in the past, but this was their debut at Celebrate Bandra.
Each of the performers brought something unique to the stage — from Pratap Rath, a veteran of the world of film music to jazz drummer Benoni Soans.
For music fans in the audience like Arijit Mukherjee and Ipshit Bhattacharya, it was a first watching Mudgal and co live. “We’re music fans in general and Mudgal fans in particular,” said Bhattacharya. “The quality of the events at the festival have been very good,” added his cousin Mukherjee.
The capacity crowd cheered and clapped as Mudgal unleashed old favourites like Dere Dere and Maati. The energy was palpable, and the musicians were so obviously enjoying themselves that it added to the experience.
Instead of starting the evening with a rollicking musical piece, the group started on a quieter note with an Urdu-based composition, in keeping with the sombre mood that the memory of 26/11 had evoked in the past few days.
“It is very important to keep art alive,” said Mudgal earlier. “It has a larger purpose.” Whilst the political nature of art might be an eternally debated topic, there was no doubt that the purpose of entertainment at least was well served on Saturday night.