Music

All-women ghazal band set to take centre stage

All-female ghazal band (from left): Mukta Raste, Kaushiki Joglekar, Megha Rawoot, Nastya and Gayatri Asokan.  

Many a dulcet female voice has graced a mehfil of ghazal across the sub-continent and beyond, for decades. Singers like Farida Khanum, Begum Akhtar, Chitra Singh, Iqbal Bano and Nayyara Noor have made their voices heard in a world dominated by their male counterparts such as Jagjit Singh, Mehdi Hassan, Ghulam Ali and Pankaj Udhas.

The ghazal singers are always accompanied on the stage by male musicians. One would rarely come across a female musician at a concert of ghazals. That tradition is about to change, though.

A newly formed ghazal band has women playing all the instruments. Singer Gayatri Asokan’s band is all set to make its debut, breaking a glass ceiling that has stood firm for long.

It was after a discussion with her manager that Gayatri, a State-Award-winning playback singer who is making rapid strides in ghazal too, decided to form an all-female band.

“After the breakout of the coronavirus pandemic, there have been no live concerts on a stage for me, like other performers, and I thought I should attempt something new when the world comes out of the lockdown,” Gayatri tells The Hindu over phone from Mumbai. “I thought it would be great if I could get female musicians and try to form a band, the first of its kind in India.”

She knew she was attempting something that nobody had tried in the past. “In my two decades of performing ghazals on stage, I never have been accompanied by a female musician; neither have I seen women playing the instruments in any ghazal concert,” she says. “I know this is a break from the tradition, but I hope music lovers will encourage our band.”

The band has Mukta Raste on the tabla, Megha Rawoot on the sitar, Nastya, a Russian living in India, on the violin and the flute, and Kaushiki Joglekar on the keyboard. “They are all very talented and we have been practising here in Mumbai,” she says. “We are all looking forward to our first performance.”

Because of the pandemic situation, the band will make its debut with an online show, to be streamed on livdemy.com on November 13.


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Printable version | Dec 3, 2021 7:29:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/all-women-ghazal-band-set-to-take-centre-stage/article37127794.ece

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