The Chandrayaan raga

Updated: Jan 12, 2020, 15:27 IST | Amruta Khandekar | Mumbai

Composer Shantanu Moitra pays ode to ISRO's journey to the moon in a multi-artiste concert that tracks the journey of a satellite

Shantanu Moitra, composer
Shantanu Moitra, composer

While closely following the journey of Chandrayaan-2, India's second mission to the moon, Shantanu Moitra was struck by the realisation that the country's scientists had never been celebrated through the artistic medium. The acclaimed music composer, who also happens to be an amateur astronomer, immediately made up his mind to put together a one-of-its-kind concert honouring every aspect of this scientific milestone.

"Even though Chandrayaan missed its target by a whisker, I did not hear a single person utter that the effort was a waste. This wisdom that the average man in the country demonstrated really startled me, considering that we are living in an environment where everything is up for debate."

Kaushiki Chakraborty, Hindutsani vocalist and Jayanthi Kumaresh, veena playerKaushiki Chakraborty, Hindutsani vocalist and Jayanthi Kumaresh, veena player

Work on putting together the concert, which Moitra hoped would include some of the biggest names in Indian classical music, began in December. The ensemble of musicians includes violinist Ambi Subramaniam, son of renowned violinist L Subramaniam, flautist Rakesh Chaurasia, nephew of music director Hariprasad Chaurasia, and Kaushiki Chakraborty, daughter of Hindustani classical vocalist Ajoy Chakrabarty. The classical musicians will be playing something akin to a movie score as the concert is based on a narrative.

"It's like I'm a painter with many different colours," Moitra laughs. "Just like assembling a satellite involves science, metallurgy, combustion and mathematics, I have to work with an array of instruments and talented artistes. I hope that our collective faith in the project ensures that what I have in mind materialises on the stage."

Ambi Subramaniam, violinist and Rakesh Chaurasia, flautistAmbi Subramaniam, violinist and Rakesh Chaurasia, flautist

The National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) has thrown its weight behind this endeavour. Dr Suvaranalata Rao, programming head of Indian music, who curated the event, says, "Shantanu has drawn a parallel between the satellite's journey and the different stages of our life. Like Chandrayaan, every human being is protected for a few years before it launches away from its 'pad' or 'home' into the unknown. The songs aim to highlight this unusual similarity between the life of a satellite and that of a human," she says.

Moitra has received assistance from an unexpected source—an old schoolmate. "When I saw that his mail was signed as Tarun Ghosh, senior professor at the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, I was stunned," he says, chuckling. "Now he is helping me with the science part of the concert."

When: January 18, 2020, 6.30 pm
Where: Tata Theatre, NCPA NCPA Marg, Nariman Point Mumbai
Charges: Rs 270 onwards (For members) Rs 360 onwards (For non-members)
Call: 66223742

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