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EXCHANGING NOTES: V. Umashankar and Zakir Hussain Photo: K.Ananthan   | Photo Credit: K_Ananthan


It is impossible to write eruditely about world class musicians performing together on stage. Pankaja Srinivasan can only try

To watch friends jamming together is always fun. And when the buddies are Vikku Vinayakram, Zakir Hussain, U. Shrinivas, U. Rajesh, V. Selvaganesh and V. Umashankar, the experience is enthralling.

Thank you Samarpan. Imagine sitting in a concert in Coimbatore watching two Grammy Award winners, Vikku Vinayakram and Zakir Hussain, performing on the stage together.

Along with them are the incredible Mandolin Shrinivas and his brother Rajesh, and Vikku Vinayakram’s two sons, V. Selvaganesh on the kanjira and V. Umashankar on the ghatam. It is tough to write a review of the concert. Whatever one has to say has already been said, and better. The usual adjectives fall flat and one does not know of any other words that describes the music.

The connoisseurs in the gathering go ‘besh besh’ and the rest clap and roar their approval. On stage, the musicians have a party. The conversation between the mandolins, tablas, ghatams and kanjira sparkle.

When Viku Vinayakram appears on stage, Zakir Hussain greets him with a drum roll. There is laughter, banter, encouragement and deep appreciation as each vidwan ‘shows off’. Vikku Vinayakram pummels, thumps, smacks and strokes the ghatams, coaxing and bullying them in turn to produce fantastic sounds. He plays a bit and stops, then looks across the stage challengingly at Zakir Hussain who rises to the bait and retorts with his tabla. The mandolins, the kanjira and ghatam join the repartee.

At one point, seamlessly, and without any instruction to the audience, Vikku Vinayakram has us participating in a sawaal-jawab with him. The vibrations are amazing and Zakir Hussain looks impressed with the Coimbatoreans’ ability to keep time.

“Don’t go yet,” says Zakir Hussain as Vikku Vinayakram rises to leave the stage to take a small break.

Then the bell-like tones of the mandolin take over, calming down the heart beats after the vigorous percussion piece that preceded. Shrinivas and Rajesh create music that travels from an almost sub-sonic hum to a joyful, full throated crescendo. Sometimes, you hear the music but you can barely see their fingers move. Then again it is the boom, boom, boom of the tabla, ghatams and kanjira. The ensemble plays, one picking where the other leaves off.

To my untutored ears and eyes it appears as if they communicate in a private code. They know exactly when to play, when to stop…Whatever it is, they cast a spell, one that is yet to break.

The concert was organised to raise funds for the BYMM Trust.

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Printable version | Mar 22, 2018 9:15:32 PM |