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Voices history forgot

Starting today is an initiative that seeks to revive the works of early-20th century gaanewalis.

art and culture Updated: Apr 02, 2010 02:25 IST
Aakriti Sawhney

The gramophone heralded a new era in Indian music. Vocalists took up the challenge of improvising and presenting their work in a span of three minutes (because a 78 rpm record could hold only three minutes of sound per side). And the technology meant that women singers’ voices could now be immortalised on records.

But sadly, very little information in terms of literature is available on these early-20th century female artists. Even their original records are part of private collections. So, to revive their voices, the Centre for Media and Alternative Communication with Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) has come up with a multi-media performance and exhibition that takes forward their work of Women on Record — a celebration of music, women and technology.

“Through this initiative, we are bringing the works of legendary but lesser known gaanewalis, like Kesar Bai, the only India artist whose music has gone to space, or works of Indu Bala, that later became part of the great film Mughal-e-Azam,” says Vidya Shah, one of the organisers. The exhibition ‘Think Through’ will feature a tapestry of archival images and contemporary photography of that time.

The multimedia performance Inhi Logon Nei has actor Neena Gupta playing the Sutradhar. Vidya Shah will be singing from the repertoire of that era along with a performance by kathak exponent Rani Khanum.

The multimedia performances will be held on April 2 and 3 at the Amphitheatre, IGNCA, from 7 pm to 8.30 pm. The exhibition, Think Through, starts today and continues till April 13.

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