If music be the food of love…

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This month it’s golden oldies for Indian seniors in Melbourne, writes GEORGE THAKUR

Members of the Northern Region Indian Seniors Association (NRISA) enjoyed a successful concert by musician Poly Varghese recently. In a similar exercise, NRISA President Dr Nalin Sharda arranged a joint venture between NRISA and Indian Senior Citizens Association (ISCA), for their members to be entertained by sitar maestro Jyoti Thakar of the Ujjain gharana, and maestro Arvind Paranjape on tabla.

A joint membership of some sixty Hindustani mauseeqee ke chaahne wale raided the Electra Avenue hall in Ashwood.

To initiate the afternoon, Arvindji presented a brief background of both artists and, to the relief of restive members, began with raga Shuddh Saaran. Jyotiji started the moods-inducing alaap. As she advanced to the mukhra, one could envision her command over the instrument of her choice, sitar. Traditionally, the tabla is silent until the main artist reaches the body of the raga, but Arvindji trotted beyond the tradition and joined in, keeping the sound level low, his fingers created magic on his jori. While attentions were visibly drawn to the tabla, it certainly added rather than took anything away from the prime instrument, sitar. And as shuddh finale of the Shuddh Saaran loomed, the ten fingers of both artists entranced us all, shut-eyed and in-stupor. The thundering applause that resulted was so very deserving.

Indian Seniors Melbourne.Indian Link

As Arvindji briefly introduced the next raga Yaman, Jyotiji ushered us into the sphere of her own creation – a brief of the classical Yaman – and then onto a memorable tune we identified as Pakistani singer Farida Khanum’s immortal Aaj jaane ki zidd na karo, Yoon-hi pahloo main baithe raho! And the hall simply went berserk, as Jyotiji’s smiled sublime in appreciation. Another classical bandish, and then Chandan sa badan, chanchal chitwan, dheere se tera yoon muskana… goose-bumps! As if teasing us, the two artists, having performed together for decades, presented another immortal, Mausam hai aashiqana, ai dil kaheen se unko bhi aise men dhoond lana. Another bandish, and now: Jab deep jale aana, jab saanjh dhale aana. Yet another classical bandish, and another classic from mid twentieth century Bollywood, Aansoo bhari hain yeh jivan ki raahen, koee un se keh de hamen bhool jaaen. These classics, Arvindji added, which music directors such as Roshan draped into undying tunes, and personal anguish lyricists like Raja Mehndi Ali Khan transformed into poignant lyrics, testify immortality.

Dr Dinesh Sood, ISCA President, was forced to butt in. “Until what time may the program continue?” he probed.

“Until tomorrow morning,” yelled a member.

“It’s time for lunch,” Dinesh argued.

“Music is food for soul,” came the counter-argument.

Alas, Arvindji was forced to announce the last item of the day, in raag Bhairwi.

A memorable afternoon of Indian music.