Bollywood ragas

An endeavour the NCPA has dedicated a significant amount of their stage-space to, is educating listeners in the nuances of Indian classical music. In keeping with the theme, they have created the Lokpriya series of concerts, which blend the traditional with elements of the contemporary.

Earlier, the Lokpriya series has witnessed performances by musical stalwarts like Hariharan, Suresh Wadkar and Talat Aziz. The next performance in this series features prolific Bollywood vocalist Parthiv Gohil, performing raga-based songs from Hindi films of yesteryears.

Dr Suvarnalatha Rao, head of programming, reveals the need for such a performance. She says, “There is an intrinsic classical value in Bollywood music which not many are aware of. That is the message we wish to drive home to audiences. Such concerts are not merely entertainment; they also provide a sort of education in the arts. Through the Lokpriya series we want to provide the common man an entry to the ragas. Using film music to do it gives it greater appeal.”

The man championing this cause of Dr Rao on the stage, Parthiv Gohil (see picture), in spite of his strong affiliation to film music, is hardly a stranger to the subtleties of the classical. His own roots were established under the watchful eyes of some of the most prolific Indian musicians, including Hariprasad Chaurasia, Sultan Khan, Gundecha Brothers and V G Jog. Speaking about his ability, Rao says, “He has sung for Sanjay Leela Bhansali in Saawariya and Devdas and has a strong classical grounding as well. Therefore he is the perfect combination. During the event he will be explaining the ragas and then performing the songs. I think many will be surprised by some of the songs.”

Gohil himself is not even remotely daunted by the expectations of Dr Rao. In fact, for him, this is familiar turf. He says, “The songs I am going to present in this show are the songs with which I started my career. When I was practising all the ragas as a student of classical music, I used to listen and sing all raga based film songs as well. Especially the songs sung by Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Amir Bhan Saheb, DV Pulaskar, Pt Bhimsen Joshi, Manna Dey and Mohammed Rafi.”

Some of the music directors whose compositions will be featured during the course of the evening are Anil Biswas, OP Nayyar, Jaidev, Khayyam, Madan Mohan and Naushad. Prod Gohil for a favourite and he replies with humility — “All these are legends, maestros and pillars of today’s film music and I respect and appreciate each and every one of them. I am too small a person to give my opinion. I have learnt a lot from these maestros.

” He reveals that their songs will be the foundation on which he will explore ragas like Yaman, Basant Bahar and the complicated Ahir Bhairav. What he refuses to divulge, however, are the songs themselves. He winks and says, “Let that be
a surprise!”

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