People say music is subjective and it’s often hard to tell why certain songs are more appealing. Sixty-year-old Amarendra Dhaneshwar, however, can tell you why ‘Ghar aaya mera pardesi’, a song composed by Shankar-Jaikishan and sung by Lata Mangeshkar for the 1951 movie Aawara, strikes a chord within most listeners.
“The song is composed in Raga Bhairavi, one of the fundamental ragas in Indian classical music,” says Dhaneshwar, a Gwalior gharana vocalist. “It is an extremely versatile raga that is open to myriad emotions and interpretations.”
Dhaneshwar, who has also been a classical music scribe for the past 30 years, will be hosting ‘Bhairavi Jhalak’, a free-of-cost programme that will highlight the frequency of the usage of Raga Bhairavi in popular music, particularly Hindi film music. “Between 1940 and 1965, it was extremely common to hear Hindi film songs composed in Bhairavi,” he says. “A number of music directors of that era, from Naushad to Khaiyyam and even S D Burman, utilised it frequently.”
The event will be part listening session and part performance, which will feature Dhaneshwar himself on vocals, Mukta Raste on tabla and Manas Kumar on violin. Popular songs that use Raga Bhairavi will be juxtaposed by renditions of classical and semi-classical bandishes.
Dhaneshwar says, “My aim is to show audiences that raga-based music can become part of popular culture as well. It isn’t as esoteric as one might imagine.”