Wednesday, November 22, 2017

If there could be a not-so-gentle reminder of how rhythmic we all are, it couldn’t be anything better than the just-culminated rhythm fest, Dumru. We witnessed some of the greatest percussionists in the country and the world come together to create euphoria, as only they could.

The two-day fest started off on Dec 19, with a show of talent from budding percussionists followed by the living legends of the drum world. Connoisseurs of rhythm would have had their heart racing after so much as a glance at the line up.

One of the highlights of the first evening was Daniel Waples, a London-born artist, who played a unique instrument called the Hang Drum. This hand made, metal instrument, is probably the only percussion instrument, which also plays a melody along with the beats. While Pt. Bhavni Shankar enthralled the audience with his percussion prowess, Daniel, with the Hang Drum truly touched chords of the soul.

The human percussion instrument, Pandit Bickram Ghosh, drew rhythm from parts of his body too, apart from the magic he created with the tabla.

Bondo Fernandes, the veteran Goan percussionist, showed his command over the beats as he turned practically everything around him into a percussion instrument. The most unique one being a wooden vessel that he drew music out of as it bobbed over a water bath. The audience was left guessing until he pulled the pot out of water, and the applause that followed was climactic.

The human percussion instrument, Pandit Bickram Ghosh, drew rhythm from parts of his body too, apart from the magic he created with the tabla. Arun Kumar demonstrated the language of rhythm, literally narrating a story of a journey between two cities, painting a vivid picture in our heads without using words at all. Vd. Suresh, who enthralled with the Ghatam and Vd. Anoor Ananthakrishna Sharma, who spoke the language of the Mridangam, joined the conversation to complete the dialogue. Day one ended on a high note, proving that the organizers had got the order of the performances spot on.

Day two saw more fresh talent from all over the country engaging the audience on the talent stage. Contrary to popular belief, the youngsters proved that classical forms of percussion are still alive and the bar is set high for anyone wanting to enter the arena. Talent with Mridangams, Moresings, Tablas, Kanjiras and Dholaks overflowed, setting the stage for the big guns.

Esani Dey, Pune’s teen wonder bass guitarist, kicked off the main event with Anubrata Chatterjee on the Tabla and Swaminathan Selvaganesh carried forward his dad’s legacy with the Kanjira. The performance was embellished with a dance sequence by Shinijini Kulkarni.

Ustad Taufiq Qureshi proved that he didn’t need the Djembe all the time. His vocal skills were quite competent in the event of the instrument not being available. I’d rather have him play the Djembe though, ‘cause when he did, boy, was it something!

Palakkad Sriram’s soothing vocals and renditions with the flute though were just that touch of melody that complemented the energy of the percussion-filled evening. Vd. Selva Ganesh, better known for his Kanjira prowess, impressed with a custom drum-kit. So soulful was the performance, that you could hear a pin drop during the performance as heartbeats went on a rollercoaster that peaked with applauses.

Anubrata Chatterjee

The finale was kicked off by soulful Sarangi with Pt. Anindo Chatterjee’s Tabla solo that elevated the mood just the right amount for the legendary Ghatam maestro Vd. Vikku Vinayakram to build up a crescendo with his Ghatam. Vikkuji’s age not withstanding, he would have outdone all others on energy. His performance was mesmerizing to the extent that Pt. Anindo, sitting right next to the maestro, was clearly awestruck.

With the final jam that got all the artists back on stage, the audience went berserk as the artists upped the pace to an unbelievable level, leaving everyone content and wanting more at the same time. The resonance of all performances from the two evenings, would take a while to die down in the hearts that witnessed it.

On a side note though, the sound, though managed professionally, did cause a lot of bother to performing artists. Bleeding sound in parts of the performances was a shame and the monitors seemed to have taken mini vacations at critical times. Percussion is meant to be loud, but there were points where the loudness was disturbingly harsh, to the point of cacophony right in the midst of harmony. An area of improvement for sure.

The artist introductions were a tad too rehearsed and when extempore, lacked the punch for creating the anticipation that top artists deserve to be welcomed with. That would be the one aspect we’d love to see improvement in. Take nothing away from the organizers who brought together the legends and the budding greats on one platform. The arrangements, even if not flawless, were top notch.

Keep it beating, folks!