When vocalist Sriram Parasuram launched into a spontaneous rendition of ‘Munni badnaam hui' from ‘Dabangg' at IIT-Madras on Saturday, the audience could not contain its laughter. He also belted out a few lines of ‘Chaiyya chaiyya' while explaining the wide use of the raag ‘Saarang' in folk music.

Moments of such spontaneity and surprise were all too common on the final day of Saarang 2011.

During his talk to a group of students, who had limited understanding of classical music, Parasuram prodded them to understand the geometry and mathematical structure of Carnatic music.

“Learn to listen to music in a very aesthetic way. Do not go to a concert just in the hope that it will soothe you or give you joy. Try and appreciate the amazing amount of precision and design fundamentals that go into making a musical instrument such as the mridangam,” he said.

Touching on a variety of topics such as the importance of silence in any musical composition to the purpose of art itself, Parasuram took the audience on a trip through what he called the ‘sound space.' His categorisation of ragas as an “infinite design space of frequencies” made an instant connect with the audience.

The five-day festival brought out the artistic bent in students, who are usually busy crunching numbers on a calculator or trying to solve a mathematical equation.

To be able to listen to a mellifluous rendition of ‘Brahma mokhate' inside the physics lecture hall of a technical institution is not an everyday possibility. Students such as Akshay Rangamani, who was the coordinator of the classical music competition, say that music offers an outlet for creativity.

“It is about a drive to do something outside the syllabus and curriculum. Having varied interests helps me focus better,” he says. Akshay sneaks out of the campus every weekend to pursue his training in classical music.

Actor Sriya Saran touched on similar themes in her Saarang lecture series talk about the evolution of Indian cinema. She spoke about the power of stories and their ability to make people smile. “Cinema and dance are the oldest and purest forms of expressing yourself. Films can be used as a medium of cultural exchange in a culturally diverse country like India,” she said.