Bombay Showcase

When Carnatic met Hindustani

Ronu Majumdar (top) and Shashank Subramanyam perform together for the first time in seven years at a concert organised by the The Hindu Group to support flood relief efforts in Chennai.— Photos: SHASHI ASHIWAL  

There’s a special charm in attending an instrumental jugalbandi concert. The magic gets enhanced when both musicians are playing the same instrument. And when both artistes are established geniuses, one from the Hindustani tradition and the other from Carnatic, the result is pure ecstasy.

Flautists Ronu Majumdar and Shashank Subramanyam were on song on Saturday, on the second day of the ‘Mumbai for Chennai’ series, organised by The Hindu Group to support flood relief efforts in the Tamil Nadu capital. The event, held at G5A in Mahalaxmi, was presented by Yes Bank and powered by Birla Sun Life Mutual Fund.

The musicians were accompanied by Anubrata Chatterjee on tabla and Parupalli Phalgun on mridangam. As in most Hindustani-Carnatic interactions, they chose raag s common to both traditions. The opening choice was the pentatonic Bhoopali, known as Mohanam in the south.

The 20-minute alaap was gradually built up, as the artistes alternated with smoothly-constructed phrases. The jod and jhala portions featured some intricate solos. This was followed by two compositions in the seven-beat rupak taal and the 16-beat teentaal . Amazing breath control, spontaneous improvisation and perfect layakari marked the playing. Bhoopali was followed by a shorter rendition of Charukeshi, a sampoorna raag originally from the Carnatic form but later adapted to Hindustani music. Here, the musicians played a soothing and serene alaap , before getting into the melodious gat , before suddenly converting it into a raagmalika , using phrases from other raag s. The percussionists played the ‘thani avarthanam’ in a traditional eight-beat cycle.

For the finale, theychose the popular Narsinh Mehta bhajan ‘Vaishnava Janato’; here, Majumdar displayed his singing skills too.

The best part of the show was their interaction, giving each other space, lauding each other and yet playing brilliantly individually. Majumdar pointed out that he had played with Subramanyam after seven years, though they did many shows together earlier on. After this show, one hopes to hear more from jugalbandi s from them.

The author is a freelance music writer.

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Printable version | May 8, 2021 11:36:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/entertainment/When-Carnatic-met-Hindustani/article14018466.ece

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