Jackfruit, a children’s music festival in Bengaluru with


Amid the ethnic violence that rocked Manipur in the last few months, with thousands displaced and hundreds killed, four young boys in Imphal – Zan Lynn Thant (11), Manimatum Heikrijum (12), L. Bidyasagar Sharma (7) and L Yogananda (9) – have been striving to find new meaning in life. Through dance.

With their schools shut and unrest taking over normalcy, these boys have been getting together to rehearse the vibrant Pung Cholom – the traditional Manipuri dance form usually performed during Holi – where dancers play the drums (dhol) and dance along the rhythm as precursor to presenting Krishna’s Raas Leela.

The art form, which is steeped in martial arts and performed usually by men, comprises hand-beaten drums and blends the fluidity of movement cohesively with the vitality of the rhythm. The boys are a part of ‘Kamaal Dhamaal’, a percussion ensemble comprising young drummers from across India, who play a wide range of instruments, both folk and classical.

This is a part of Jackfruit, a children’s music festival organised by Bhumija, a Bengaluru-based trust that for a decade has been a flagbearer for the cause of classical music. The festival is in collaboration with the city’s Indian Music Experience, the country’s only interactive music museum.

chotu khan Chotu Khan

A decade-old annual festival, which has had musicians such as Canrnatic vocalist Bombay Jayashri and Carnatic vocal-violin duo Ranjani-Gayathri, among others, as festival directors, has handed this year’s reigns to Delhi-based Hindustani classical vocalist Shubha Mudgal. As festival director, she is curating a space with “a wide range of diversity and inclusivity” from the entire country. “With Manipur, given the current situation, frankly, we were worried about whether we should attempt it, and whether the children would be able to travel,” says Mudgal.

Freedom Sale

The drummers will come together for a performance under the baton of percussionist Aneesh Pradhan, the Mumbai-based tabla exponent who had done a similar project with older musicians. Ratan Singh, a Manipuri Pung Cholam player, who had performed with the group in the past, has been mentoring the children.

They will match beats with tasha and dhol players from Pune, sambal, manjira, and tuntuna players from Ahmednagar, Maharastra, ghumat players from Goa, dholak and khartaal players from Rajasthan and mridangam, kanjira, ghatam and tabla players from Bengaluru.

The five-day festival will open on September 13 with a special concert for children with intellectual disabilities and their caregivers where Kannada singer MD Pallavi will sing for them followed by two big evening concerts – the percussion ensemble and Singing into the Future’ that will feature vocal prodigies from various parts of the country. Mudgal is especially excited about Chhotu Khan, a six-year-old folk musician from Jhinjhiyali in Jaisalmer, who found much attention on YouTube last year.

“We talk of the diversity of this country and say that it exists in various parts of it. But when there are different vocal and drumming traditions on the same stage, that diversity comes alive in a manner that I haven’t seen elsewhere. You can really hear it in the way they sing and what they sing. And that, I think, is very moving,” says Mudgal, who scouted for talent on social media and through facilitators at the grassroots.

“We listened, selected, and planned the repertoire by email, phone, and Zoom. A lot of this work is done prior to congregating together. I have been working on this model where I work with people working on the grassroots level, experts in the folk art of that area and who help us communicate with the children or their guardians. Many are from remote areas and may be very fluent with Marathi or Bangla but not with languages that we speak,” says Mudgal, who adds that she’s never curated for children before but started out by teaching kids many years ago. “While my regular work is to be a performer, this is a different challenge, where you bring people together hoping that it would work,” she adds, who, in light of climate change, has chosen nature as the theme of the festival.

Most Read

Gadar 2 box office collection day 8: Sunny Deol film to enjoy another successful weekend, earns over Rs 335 crore
Refund scam: Amazon’s internal probe on iPhone purchases leads to student’s arrest in Bengaluru

Besides the two concerts, the festival will also host a bunch of workshops on all five days with senior musicians including Carnatic classical vocalist Aruna Sairam, tabla exponent Bickram Ghosh, and composer Shantanu Moitra. While Sairam will explain the stories of Hindustani classical ragas which are rooted in the Carnatic system, Ghosh has asked those participating to bring any instrument that can create a beat. While Moitra will discuss his journey in film music, Bengaluru-based DJ Peach Blok will introduce deejaying in a session titled ‘Scratching the Surface’. There is also a beatboxing workshop by beatboxer Vineeth Vincent and a couple of percussion workshops for visually different children conducted by the khanjira maestro, N Amrit.

Gayathri Krishna, Managing Trustee of Bhumijaa, who christened the festival Jackfruit, says “The fruit personifies classical music – hard exterior, sticky and difficult way to the real fruit which is incredibly sweet. Much like the journey to realising classical music as an artiste.”

In the past, Krishna has seen children learn classical music, a solo pursuit and under one guru. When these kids would come out of it all, albeit briefly to work with a new guru, they enjoyed themselves. “We see that they form bonds, are happy to see that there are others who are also pursuing this difficult art. When mixed with folk, there is mutual respect for one another, especially from such diverse backgrounds,” says Krishna.

Source link

Comments are closed.