Grammy-awardA�winner PanditA�VishwamohanA�Bhatt on hisA�musical commitment,A�collaboratorsA�and his youngA�audience
The only time I can take a nap is on a flight, between concerts, but the air hostesses keep waking me up to ask me what I want to eat,a�? says Pandit Vishwamohan Bhatt, Grammy winner, Tansen Samman awardee, and inventor of the famous Mohan Veena, who performs at least 22 concerts every month. a�?Ia��m going to Pune next, then to Bengaluru, Delhi, Nagpur, Jaipur, Kolkata, and Hyderabad. And all this is within a week,a�? he adds.
An insane schedule such as this doesna��t bother the musician; ita��s all for the love of music, he claims. a�?Ita��s not my profession; ita��s my commitment to the field of arts, so I dona��t mind it,a�? he says.
In Bengaluru this weekend, where Bhatt will perform solo, the musician intends to play some of his usual favourites, which includes the Grammy-winning track A Meeting By The River from the album of the same name, and a new raga that hea��s developed. a�?I have created a raga called Vishwaranjini, which is dedicated to womena��s empowerment. I have composed it for Nirbhaya, and had the whole image of Durga as Mahishasur mardini in mind,a�? he says.
On the contribution of the Mohan Veena to Hindustani classical music, Bhatt has this to say: a�?I have been playing the Mohan Veena for the past 50 years. I have played at the Saptak Annual Music Festival in Ahmedabad consecutively for 39 years, to name one, and I perform across the world through the year. Even musically orthodox cities such as Chennai and Kerala keep inviting me, so I believe the Mohan Veena has made its place on the Indian classical music shelf.a�?
Bhatt himself is not restricted to ancient rules of music though. He even enjoys Bollywood music from time to time (hea��s currently listening to the soundtrack of Bajirao Mastani), and then switches back to Rashid Khan for his classical music fix. a�?Khan is one of my favourite vocalists,a�? he explains, adding that collaborating with Khan, and Hariprasad Chaurasia, was a delightful experience. a�?But I must add that every musician I have collaborated with has been exceptional,a�? he is quick to add.
Having won multiple awards, and the Tansen Samman recently, we wonder if hea��s ever considered them to be a thing of validation. a�?We never work for an award. When I was recording A Meeting by the River, I never even imagined Ia��d win the Grammy. But they are encouraging, and a way of the world recognising your work. And it helps you to access audiences you wouldna��t have reached otherwise,a�? Bhatt says.
But a Grammy is not the ultimate endorsement, he clarifies. a�?The Tansen Samman awarded by the Madhya Pradesh government recently is equally important to me, as is the GIMA (Global Indian Music Academy) awards,a�? he adds.
A master collaborator, Bhatt says hea��s quite impressed with the way the younger generation has taken to Indian classical music. a�?You have to give the youth classical music in a way so that they can relate to it. I think I have managed to do that. I do about 60 shows a year with SPIC MACAY (The Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music And Culture Amongst Youth) and have seen tremendous enthusiasm among the youth,a�? he says.
No wonder that orthodox musicians too are looking at reworking their music. a�?I find this quite interesting. There was a time when old school musicians would look at me and go a�?oh he does fusiona��, but today the same musicians are going the fusion way, and collaborating with others!a�? he muses. Talking about his favourite compositions, he says, a�?While I love everything I have ever played, I would have to say A Meeting by the River, and the Rajasthani folk song a�� Kesariya Balam a�� are two of my favourites. I play them all the time!a�? he signs off, laughing. Bhatta��s performance will be preceded by a performance by Suma Sudhindra on the veena, followed by classical vocalist Prabhakar Karekar.
January 31. Entry free. Passes at the venue. At Orion Mall, Malleswaram. 6.30 pm.
a�� Priyadarshini Nandy