Decoding Carnatic music for the untrained ear can be quite a task. The centuries old syntax puts emphasis on vocal music, and most compositions are written to be sung. Even when playing on instruments, they are meant to be performed in a singing style. So it wasn’t surprising when one heard that the narrative was losing appeal with today’s pop-culture bred audiences, who were losing patience with the long and high crescendo-filled recitals.
That was till aficionado Mahesh Babu took it upon himself to re-curate the rich south Indian sangeet and keep up the tempo with the changing times through his company Banyan Tree. Babu organises an annual two-day Carnatic music festival called Dakshinayan, which is in now its seventh year, and this time around, will showcase the best of contemporary Carnatic music.
“We have artistes who are furthering the traditional music to match the syntax of today’s day and age. They are daring musicians who reinterpret the original syntax and serve music’s real purpose — entertainment,” explains Babu, who started Dakshinayan to give Mumbai’s cosmo culture a proper classical festival.
The ‘daring’ voices performing at this year’s Dakshinayan will be vocalist Bombay Jayashri and Carnatic guitarist Prasanna, among others. Embracing change “These artistes understand the pulse of the modern listener. No one wants to sit through a three-hour recital and listen to long vocal solos. Even so, there is a growing new-found interest in contemporary classical sangeet. People are going back to their roots and the younger generation of classical musicians are also embracing change,” says Babu.
Which is why, every year Babu finds a growing audience for Dakshinayan, the tailor-made Carnatic music festival. “We started out at a time when getting sponsorships for something like a sangeet festival was unheard of. Due to the surge of the Internet and growing popularity of classical artistes, it is becoming popular again,” says Babu.
On the roster
Prasanna: The Berklee College of Music graduate, Prasanna plays Carnatic music on electric guitar. After Sukumar Prasad, he is the second musician to take guitar on to the classical stage. He is also renowned for his jazz compositions
Bombay Jayashri: The famous South Indian playback singer is known for her riveting melodic vocals. The new face of Carnatic recitals, Jayashri has performed all over the globe, including the Royal Opera House, Durvan and the Russian Opera House, Helsinki. She is also the only artiste to have been featured twice at the Queen Elizabeth House, London.
Ganesh- Kumaresh: The violinist brothers have composed for several movies and also recorded albums. Apart from performing, they also score music for films and dance productions. Their music for the movies Dance Like a Man and Chandrikai is widely appreciated.
TV Sankaranarayanan: Padma Bhushan Sankaranarayanan is particularly noted for the easy reach of his voice to the upper notes and colorful delineation of the Swaraprastaram.
Dakshinayan will be held on March 11 and 12 at Nehru Centre, Worli.
Tickets are available at Landmark stores and Rhythm House.
Entry: Rs. 250 and Rs. 150