And there was Kaushiki too! - Kaushiki Chakraborty



And there was Kaushiki too!



My first serious encounter with Hindustani Music was as an 8 year old child, when I heard Pandit Bhimsen Joshi sing. To this day my brother & myself love Pandit Bhimsen Joshi’s singing especially Kannada Devaranamas written by Purandara Dasa in Hindustani style. Unfortunately this didn’t result in my learning Hindustani music, barring a few Meera bhajans, because I grew up in an environment saturated with Carnatic Music. Some rare occasions of attending concerts by Pandit Jasraj, Parveen Sultana, Kishori Amonkar and Sanjeev Abhayankar was my limited romance with Hindustani Music. So, when I heard that a popular musician like Kaushiki Chakraborty was giving a concert at Music Academy, instantly I decided to attend it . 

It was a very grand ensemble of musicians Fazal Qureshi (son of the famous UstadAllah Raakha) on the tabla, Rakesh Chaurasia (nephew of Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia) and Gino Banks (son of Louis Banks) on the drums. This should be enough for Kangana Ranaut to scream ‘Nepotism‘ and T M Krishna to point out how music is being hijacked by the privileged ones and it does not reach the kids sitting along the seashore! 
They were joined by Purbayan Chakraborty on the Sitar, Rickraj on Guitar, Sangeet Haldipur on the Keyboard, and oh yes, Kaushiki Chakraborty on Vocals. 


The concert opened with Purbayan playing on a transparent sitar, which was looking very unusual as if it was made of glass, or plastic or acrylic. Whatever it was, despite his dexterity and his mastery, neither my friend Kavita Rau nor myself could connect with Raag Shree during the recital. Almost as if he heard us, he switched over to the traditional sitar and the difference was undoubtedly much more wholesome and absolutely lovely! 

Then walks in the much awaited Kaushiki, who was continuously smiling and interrupted it with some singing. She chose a Taraana in Raag Yaman, which has it’s origin from Raag Kalyan. This was like a Thillana but quite short compared to our very very elaborate RTPs . 
Anyway, after this one rendering, she exited for a break. Imagine next month onwards, we are going to have artistes sitting for hours and hours and not getting up at all . Often even the audience have the freedom to go away during the Thani Avartanam but the artistes on the stage can’t even think of doing it. 

Kaushiki leaves Rakesh Chaurasia to hold fort, and then Purbayan played a medley of lullabies, to accelerate our sleep. There was a cute moment when Rakesh played the unforgettable BG tune from the all time Hollywood hit ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’. 

The second song, which was also the last song by Kaushiki was ‘Rangi Saadi, Gulabi Chunari‘, and those four words were the lyrics of the whole song. She was very good with her swaras and yet no match for a Gayatri or even Ranjani for that matter! Here everyone got to exhibit a bit of their talent, and they being talented is a fact, especially for the guitarist Rickraj it was a relief. It was a relief because, till almost the end he was standing on the stage just looking in both directions like a traffic constable! 

It was clear that this group of talented artistes had just got together to perform and had not invested some time to put this program together, and were not in complete sync with each other. 

As we left the venue, we bumped into a lot of friends. They were expressing their disappointment that while it was marketed as Kaushiki’s concert, she was only a selling point... coming in exactly for two songs. It is to be noted that time is lost in these appearances & disappearances. 

Why is it that this concert was pleasant but did not leave us mesmerised? Why is that it did not leave us singing to ourselves or leave our souls enchanted, as used to be the case with Pandit Bhimsen Joshi or Begum Akhtar? I think the difference being, all of those musicians drowned themselves in the ocean of music and not just dabble their feet at the edge of the sea! 

While there are protests to learn Hindi, there is also hype and awe for anything coming from above the Vindhyas in other words North India! It could be a ‘Salwar Kameez’ which has successfully replaced the South Indian ‘Pavadai Dhavani‘ or the not-so-authentic but inevitable ‘Paneer Butter Masala‘ served on a banana leaf in every South Indian wedding reception!

About the Author:

Sandhya Shankar belongs to a well respected business family in Chennai. She is a Life Skills & Corporate Trainer by profession. She is an avid reader and a natural writer, who has written several poems and articles. She even presented her poems as a reading at the British council. She has keen interest in all art forms  and has explored many different forms of painting like stained glass and Tanjore being among them. 
Music being her first passion, she had her formal training under Terakotti Chandrasekharaiah at Bangalore and later briefly under Mrs Champa Kumar. She is a regular visitor of concerts, theatre and other live performances. Her witty reviews have gained a loyal and interactive readership for their sound technical commentary and relevance for every kind of melophile, from the casual-goer to the ragam expert, frequenting Chennai’s rich music scene.

(*The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and not necessarily those of Music of Madras.)

11 comments:

  1. My sentiments exactly. Was very excited but was sadly let down. Felt cheated

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  2. Great start Sandhya! Keep em coming ! Thanks for doing this..

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  3. As usual, phenomenally endearing and entertaining I didn't watch the program but definitely your writing has the right beats and notes.And the beauty is that it's a personal experience that you have shared.Keep writing

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    1. Sandhya, congratulations on starting to write your own music review blog... And I love the name Sandhya Ragam:)

      Loved your writing style and it's like actually sitting in the concert oneself.

      I am a die hard fan of Kaushiki and must urge every on to listen to full fledged concerts of hers , wherein you will get to see that in Hindustani Music she indeed has a place of a her own and is great at her style of singing.

      It is unfortunate that your first Kaushiki concert was actually more of a fusion music concert. I can understand what one feels after listening to this when the concert is sold in her name considering her popularity.

      I would like to say here that it is the fault of the organiser who was very clearly wanting to encash on her popularity without actually really presenting the real Kaushiki. Same thing happened omcecwheb I had attended Ghulam Ali concert, it was marketed in his name but for his sons promotion who is a pathetic singer!

      An ideal concert of Kaushiki would be when she is performing for atleast an hour...and when all your attention is on her! I hope you get that opportunity soon

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  4. very let down by the concert as a whole. pl dont take chennai audience for granted shd b the message to them . big names but failed to connect.. tabla sitar flute drums plus vocal made it a hash

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  5. Hi Sandhya!!
    Very good and nicely written. I could imagine the whole concert sitting in my home.
    Keep it up! ! Keep writting.
    All the Best! !! Goodluck! !
    I loved reading your blog.

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  6. As someone who doesn’t frequent concerts, I enjoy yours posts as it gives a front seat view as to the happenings at such events and it really helps that it’s witty and a charming read. Here’s to attending many more concerts vicariously.

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  7. Great analysis and criticism!

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  8. Great review, Sandhya, Objective and forthright. Kudos and keep up the good work..

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