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Expect a thematic evening and a contemporary take on Manganiyar music with the Kutle Khan Project

Tents will soon be going up on the grounds of Sir Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall (SMVRCH). Mashals (lanterns) will be set up, Rajasthani food prepared and men will be standing by, ready to tie turbans. All this is in preparation to welcome the Manganiyars to town. Krish Kumar, head of operations SMVCH, and the Madras Seva Sadan, a charitable institution for destitute women, are bringing down The Kutle Khan Project. “We are positioning ourselves as an art centre—a place to promote Indian arts and artistes, and bring them into the mainstream,” explains Kumar, adding that the evening is being planned as an “experience”.
Sounds of fusion
Chennaiites are no strangers to the music of Kutle Khan. Most recently, the singer, songwriter and composer from Rajasthan—who has taken the Manganiyar folk music and given it a contemporary twist—sang for the movie, Aambala. This time around, he and his group promise a special line-up of tracks, including Dum Mast Kalandar, Maula Maula and Padharo Mhare Desh. Audiences can also look forward to a jugalbandi (collaboration) with local artistes as Khan says he is teaming up with city-based bass guitarist Paul Jacob (who also plays the khomok and dotara), singer-songwriter Mili Nair (of Badri Badariyan and Meethi Boliyan fame), Carnatic violinist Venkat and drummer Sridhar.
Talking about how they go all out to entertain people, from using the saxophone to having a Sufi dancer, Khan asserts, “Our music has an alag andaaz. But sometimes, just our presence impresses people—especially abroad, where they are very taken by our style of dressing and the instruments we use.” Previously, he has teamed up with electronica act, MIDIval Punditz, besides Indian singer and composer Papon, and fusion rock band Tritha Electric. The five-member Kutle Khan Project has also toured over 70 countries and performed on shows like The Dewarists and Coke Studio.
Music matters
Meanwhile, the concert is not all you can look forward to. Kumar is also organising an  exhibition of photographs—two series by Lalit Verma, the founder of Pondicherry’s Aurodhan Art Gallery, titled Maha Kumbh Mela (capturing the splendour of the spiritual gathering) and Delhi’s Diplomatic Domains (a glimpse into the foreign missions). “All of our events have a theme. Last year it was black tie and red carpet, with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. This year, we are asking guests to come dressed in Indian ethnic wear,” smiles Kumar, signing off with the hope that a discerning audience will appreciate the good music and the experience.
At Sir Mutha Hall, on March 28, at 8 pm. `300-`1,000. Details: in.bookmyshow.com

—Preethi Ann Thomas


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