Event Listening to Life, a musical project written and conceived by the gifted Bombay Jayashri, brings the diverse journey of a musician on to the stage

It was just the thing that I thought of – the everlasting magic that radio had spun in our lives. Who knew where Jhoomri Talaiyya was on the map of India? It was certainly there on our musical maps. Little clue did one have how the rudraveena looked – but in our minds there was an imposing picture that suited its name; it’s unmistakable sound was etched in firm corners of our memory. In those grand years of the radio, our idea of music seamlessly moved from one genre to the other; that we found our roots in a particular genre is however a different matter. Renowned musician Bombay Jayashri’s current project, Listening to Life, took me in detail through the radio years.

Jayashri too, paid tribute to the radio. “I grew up listening to every kind of music, just because it was music. From Fauji Bhaayiyon Ke Liye to Sangeet Sarita to Aap Ki Farmaish – radio just put my childhood through a gamut of people, experiences and musical tastes,” she says, which explains the lovely title to her programme. “My mother, informed by a sharp, intuitive understanding, went through her entire day, never switching off the radio. That energy was infused into me as well. There was so much happening in that enchanting box, nothing ever seemed like less or more important,” Jayashri remembers sitting in front of the radio with her tanpura, trying to perfect “Jyoti Kalash Chhalke”, just the way Lata Mangeshkar sang it. Even at school, Jayashri was reciting the Dhyaneshwari to the Christmas carol “Silent Night” to a keertane. “There was always some give and take between these different experiences.”

To her good fortune, Jayashri found teachers who had equally egalitarian tastes. “Megedi Hasan an ottrirkaa… teriyuma unakku…? (there’s this person called Megedi Hasan, have you heard of him?),” her legendary teacher Lalgudi Jayaraman had one day quietly slipped him into their discussion. The minute she heard from her teacher of this musician she so adored, she was jumping with glee in her mind!

“Imagine my teacher from a remote village in Tamil Nadu speaking of this maestro in Pakistan to tell me how beautifully he uses a raga to bring out an emotion. I thought that was remarkable,” explains Jayashri. “All my travels, my dialogues with so many different kinds of people, the way their experiences fuse into mine and enrich my idea of music... I want to share all this with the listening public. Listening to Life was born out of that need – to say that music, as an idea or as an experience, is not regimented.”

But instituting a change is not the uppermost thought in the mind of an artiste who wants to understand things differently. “You want to do something because you feel passionate about it. The value of that moment is only something you understand in retrospect,” observes Jayashri, who doesn’t want to make too many claims about Listening to Life at the moment. “I have been thinking about it for many years, finally I wrote it down. Sai Shravanam and Embar Kannan, two extraordinary musicians in their own right, also seemed excited by this idea, and have helped me realise it. So, in a sense, my journey has become our journey. Hopefully, the group will get bigger,” says Jayashri.

Jayashri has constantly thrown herself into new challenges — with vocalist Shubha Mudgal and Ustad Rashid Khan, with danseuse Priyadarshini Govind and a range of other things.

“Every fragment of me gets recharged with these new learning experiences. Lalgudi sir would often say, ‘The day you shut yourself to new ideas and criticism, it means music has stopped flowing within you’. Every moment is a value addition – to the person and the musician in me. I want Listening to Life to be a moment of transfer.”

(Jayashri comes with a big team of talented musicians, five of her students, the gifted singer M.D. Pallavi and the veteran M.S. Satyu doing the stage. There will be two shows on August 2 and 3, at MLR Convention Centre, JP Nagar VII Phase and Chowdiah Memorial Hall, Bangalore respectively. On both days, the shows, running to 90 minutes, will begin at 8 p.m.

For tickets and other details, call 080- 42064969.)