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A first-of-its-kind medley of musicians led by Zakir Hussain is set to perform in the city

Tabla maestro Zakir Hussain’s talent echoes in the words of his mentees — Navin Sharma (dholak player) and Anantha R Krishnan (mridangam player) — who along with sarangi player Sabir Khan talk of the genius that he is. His limitless talent and energy will be complemented by these young musicians as they perform along with the Ustad at the 6th Edition of Citi-NCPA Aadi Anant Festival this weekend in Bengaluru.

Abstract notes
The festival celebrates the relationship between the Aadi (the beginning) and the Anant (the timeless), the bond between the shishya (student) and the guru (teacher), between the young musicians and the Ustad. An idea that is further accentuated by all the three youngsters who speak in awe of Hussain, even while they talk of their own learnings. The show per se will present their improvisational performances with Hussain initiating the taal, and the prodigies concluding it. “We will be conversing in a language that Zakirji has developed. I am playing the South Indian mridangam, while Navin will be playing the North Indian dholak — both of us are on rhythm instruments, while Sabir provides melody with his sarangi,” explains Krishnan adding, “Zakirji is the catalyst to the stimulus.”

An abstract musical conversation that will connect with the audience at a subliminal level — that’s how all the three musicians like to describe their kutcheri (assembly) with Hussain. For the first time in Bengaluru the foursome will be playing together. “To be sharing the stage with him is a big deal for us, but it’s his greatness that will inspire us to improvise on the spot. It will be a combination of different layas (tempo or speed of the taal). Ustad will provide the laya for us (the percussionists) which will be followed by Sabir’s nagma (tune or melody),” explains Sharma.

Sufiyana mood
Sharma (who fondly calls Hussain’s father the late, Alla Rakha Abbaji) owes his learning to the Hussain family. Krishnan too has had a long association with the tabla maestro since his grandfather Palghat R Raghu, an accomplished mridangam player, had played with Hussain and his father. It’s Khan who seems like the odd-one out, but not completely. “The aadi-anant concept is where the guru (Zakirji) will offer an idea and I will have to improvise in 10 different ways — that’s the challenge — Kyunki teen begum aur ek sarangi hoga (because we will have three begums and one sarangi). But performing between khuda (God) and mehboob (the audience, whom they are trying to woo with their music), we are sure to create a sufiyana (trance-like) mood,” says Khan.

January 15, 6.30 pm. At Chowdiah Memorial Hall.
Tickets (Rs 250 ) upwards
on bookmyshow.com
— Ayesha Tabassum

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