I have been appreciative of The Times of India with respect to two aspects so far.
- Newspaper in Education (N.I.E)
- Providing hosting space for R.K.Laxman's awesome offline cartoon strips.
The PR guys at TOI have been spot on, while conceptualizing an event of this scale. They have gained lots of public goodwill for sure.
Sunday evening featured a fusion concert by U.Shrinivas on the Mandolin, Steven on the Keyboard, and Sivamani on anything that could be remotely called as a percussion instrument.
This was my first visit to Palace grounds ( surprising, yet true ). I realised its ginormity first hand, by landing on the opposite end and doing a complete circumferential tour.
The only means of entry were the generous free passes given at TOI venues, which unfortunately I didn't have. I was waiting for a friend who apparently got enticed by the Bangalore traffic, and would turn up late.
Seeing me wait at the gates, a kind Police Maama let me in. I assure you, this was not a security lapse. It must have been my very innocent looking face.
The free pass system only exists, to keep a certain degree of vandals out of the venue ( The ones who are really lazy not to get passes ). True audiophiles ( such as yu-know-whu) should be let in without such formalities.
The host, a Ms. Rachana Bharadwaj,was greeted in typical boorish fashion, as is now synonymous with beautiful emcees. A cultural evening, did you say?
Shrinivas took centrestage, Sivamani to his right, and Steven to his left. The spotlight however was to change directions in a while.
Shrinivas began with a smooth Jazz piece, with each passing note creating a delightful sensation. Mandolin is a classy instrument, and He, having reached the pinnacle of perfection, can do such fascinating gamakas on it.
The second piece was even better. He was forced,however, to make it an interlude, as Nature decided to improvise.
Intensely ironic, the rain did fall in torrents.
I, being, of the vertically challenged variety, wasn't even able to see the artists before. The rain proved to be quite useful. Many Pseduo-interested people, and not-so-enthusiastic Old Uncle-Aunty pairs decided to flee. And I chose to use this opportunity to go to the very front.
The artists, being wary of their instruments, stopped playing. Finally paying heed to the crowd chanting "Shivu, Shivu", Mani decided to show us a tiny subspace of his vast repertoire of Percussion knowledge.
He began with a huge Suitcase, and the audience went crazy. This was to be the defining moment of the concert, with audience demanding an encore at various times, just by shouting " Suitcase, Suitcase ".
Deciding not to tease the audience further, he went back to the drums. This time, aided by a DJ playing Kannada songs in the background.
Songs, like " Baanallu Neene,Buviyallu Neene", etc. The crowd went insane when he started " Huttidare Kannada Naadalli Huttabeku", and rightly so. And by the crowd, I mean myself as well.
Some idiot deciding to be a supreme-idiot, hurled some obscenities about Dr.Rajkumar. The police took good care of him. Surprisingly, the chap was a Kannadiga. Troubled times, these.
We were absolutely drenched in the rain, and yet we were dancing to the tunes of Humma Humma. Such was the magic in Sivamani's beats.
Many of my friends are majorly repenting for not having attended this concert. Poor Souls.
Eventually, it stopped raining. The artists started a three layered piece, with the artists trying to blend into each other by the end of each cycle. Shrinivas was wickedly quick, and it became kinda tough to follow, yet melodious to listen.
Steven's keyboard was making majestic soaring sounds, that seem to balance the tempo created by Siva's beats.
The last piece of the concert was an improvised version of Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram, with mandolin being the ruling instrument.
Rachana seemed to have forgotten that there were artists other than Sivamani on the stage, but she seemed too excited to care.
Siva announced Shrinivas's name eventually, and the crowd cheered in unison. He also thanked the audience in kannada, speaking about " Raagi Mudde" etc, and we were naturally pleased.
Siva continued, this time with bottles, watercans, the Daayan of a Tabla, some pots, and everything else he could lay his hands on. It was just ama-jing. In the coming few days, if you find me percussioning random objects, don't be surprised.
Too bad, I can't make it to Shivkumar Sharma's Santoor concert. Do visit it, if you have the chance.
The pass may be free, but the event shall be priceless.
Thanks again, to the Times of India, The Bangalore Police ( for letting me in, and for controlling the unruly crowd), and most importantly to the artists, for having given Bangalore a dreamy rainy evening to remember. ( and to Rachana, for being so pretty ).