Dallas, 20 June 2014:
Hello friends, I have not been on Iris for ages. I really wanted to come back to Iris when I get something meaningful to share. Writing appears like empty rhetoric and meaningless blabber when writing is just for the sake of writing.
Today I really felt deeply motivated to share the experience with you and that is the reason Anne is back here. This post is for my music lover friends.
Friends, if you really like Sufi, Ghazals, Thumri and Folk, and if Rekha Bharadwaj’s concert is in town, please be sure never to miss it! She has a voice that is similar to red velvet, red vintage wine (I had already written about the red vintage wine comparison once before when I had posted her song “Humri Atariya Pe” in Facebook months ago), and perhaps she should be considered in the lineage of Begum Akhtar, Shamshad Begum or Noor Jehanji (if you have ever heard them) combined with a punch of the postmodern tech savvy compositions of the twenty-first century.
She goes into a trance in matter of seconds and the smile on her face when she does the whirling Darvish, is what they call in Urdu “Roohani”. Check out this video of her songs:
The noteworthy aspect about Rekha’s vocal style is that she can also pull you in her trance with a “Damadam Mast Qalandar” or “Kabira” or “Tere Bin Nahin Lag Da Dil Mera Dholna” on stage. The other remarkable quality about her singing is that she sings! We live in a world where we have more of performances, dancing and showbiz than core singing. Rekha takes you into the world of live orchestra of the last century when singers sang on stage as well in the background with the help of musicians and instrumentalists not simply with Karaoke. She is a class different from the other singers of our times and it is not easy to categorize her in the mainstream noise of our generation. She doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to be called the singing diva, yet she is carving a niche quietly as one of the most eclectic voices of our country. The smell of the rain dampened earth, the call of the ‘local’ flavour of villages, and the tinkle of the temple bells combined with the Azan of the early morning in the mosque seem to influence her style of singing. No doubt, such a voice is mentored and promoted by Gulzar sahab.
Vishal Bharadwaj landing at Dallas and coming straight to attend the concert and singing from his own compositions “Pani pani re” and “kaminey” was like a bonus, getting something more than you expect.
As a couple, their vision of life and aesthetic choices seem strikingly in sync with one another on stage and in their professional choices. Spiritualism, a connection with the soul, and cinema and music that are meaningful seem to be the life-force that connect them. Check out the “Kaminey” title song:
The other thing which struck me during this concert is how impatient and restless our countrymen and women are. It is difficult to keep us Desis quiet and in control. We need samosas, chat, chai, gossip, kids shouting and playing, and songs all at one go. Everything is important. However, I also observed that the only thing that can silence us Desis is great music straight from the soul. When Rekha entered and sang “Tere Ishq Mein” and “Ho gayee thi jo humse bhool kya kije…Phir le aaya dile majboor kya kije”, the noisy auditorium fell into absolute pin drop silence. Two hours and a half passed away like two minutes. Perhaps, this is what we can call relativity in music.