It was unlike any other musical performances I have ever seen – the musicians could not see each other because of the stage setup, hence, could not communicate through hand or eye movements, each had to know not only its part but of others as well, and a perfect coordination between musicians and technicians ensured the magic of light and sound.
The crescendo of vocals in a chorus of well-lighted windows turned to darkness with a single dhol musician highlighted in his own singular window, while at other time a well-orchestrated instrumental performance gave way to a solitary singer in the folk tune.
The similarity between Abida Parvin and the likes and the Manganiyars ended at their choice of song performed on – the Bulle Shah and the fact that both performances enthrall audiences albeit in a different way. While Abida’s performance is primarily vocal in her own signature style, the Manganiyars have their own interpretation and create a sound which alternates between vocals and instrumentals – the sound straight from the heart of India – as it would have been centuries ago. In pristine white kurta and dhotis with the Rajasthani trademark pagdis, they ensure that the tradition lives on – bringing it out of the desserts to not only urban India but to the world beyond, courtesy Roysten Abel.
The music was raw, the voices untrained and yet they mesmerised, switching between vocals of Bulle Shah and the tones of Rajasthani instrumentals. And too soon, the 67 minutes ended giving way to the formal piece of the evening – an unveiling of The Manganiyar Seduction LP and CD by Amarrass Records, and then a tribute to their mentor. And in the end, came the encore, this time a Krishna bhajan by Meera – a far cry from Bulle Shah but still from the same land of Rajashthan – while they continued the seduction of souls!
24 hours after and still in seduction,
November 28, 2010