At 1AQ, opposite the Qutab Minar in Mehrauli, Teamwork Arts’ Full Moon series focused on the intermingling of music and dance as an age-old Indian tradition. The evening had started with a percussive set by the Gangani family, followed by a Thumri recital by Indira Naik and a concluding performance by the Kutle Khan Project. veteran singer Venkatraman will start the evening with a tribute to the Ghazal tradition, followed by readings from Ghalib’s poems by Murad Ali. The evening’s performances concluded with a performance by Vidya Shah’s celebration of the divas of GhazaI set the mood for the festival season ahead.
This was Season two of the concert series Under the Banyan Tree on A Full Moon Night, produced by Teamwork Arts: a pioneering entertainment company, known for curating innovative and experiential events. The concert series kicked off in August 2018. The series, which runs from August to November, brings to the forefront music that is contemporary, evolving and connected, with global musical influences, yet Indian at its core.
The Ghazal is a poetic tradition which found its roots in 7th-century Arabia but has since evolved over time, across empires and languages, to embody the form of a complex amatory ode. From Goethe to Ghalib, Rafi to Abida Parveen, and Rumi to Asha Bhosle, the Ghazal has been a platform to express themes like erotic love, Sufi love and metaphysics. Filled with images of hopeless, idealistic lovers desperate for each other even unto death, the Ghazal is a timeless expression of intimacy, spirituality, pain and longing.
The evening’s performances started with Venkatraman, an Indian classical vocal master mentored by the legendary Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, who will be performing Ghazals from yesteryears. Inspired to try the form after hearing the late maestro Jagjit Singh, Venkatraman mastered the style and the impeccable Urdu diction it requires. He has performed extensively across the country, recorded numerous Ghazal and Bhajan albums, and sung on several film scores.
Next, Murad Ali, a poet, actor and filmmaker, with a particular affinity for the poetry of Rumi, Ghalib, Zauq, Daag and the like, read out from select Ghalib poems, in a specially curated set titled, ‘Abeedon ke lateefey’. Ali has acted in several films, television programmes and theatre productions, but cherishes celebrating his love of poetry. With a particular passion for the poets who received patronage during the Mughal era in India, he seeks to spread the much-needed message of peace, love and universal brotherhood popularised by the Ghazal form.
The final artiste for the evening, renowned classical singer, Vidya Shah is a musician and writer who has trained in Carnatic, Khayal (under Shubha Mudgal), Thumri, Dadra and Ghazal. Recently, she sang the iconic nazm by Faiz – Bol, ke lab azaad hai tere, in the critically acclaimed movie – Manto. For this performance, Shah brings back the contemplative nostalgia of the Ghazal with renditions of familiar pieces from celebrated female Ghazal singers like Farida Khanum, Begum Akhtar and Runa Laila. Her set, ‘Abhi Toh Main Jawaan Hoon – a tribute to the divas of Ghazal’ is Shah’s exploration of the art-form and its greatest female proponents.
For this edition of the series, a culinary experience was specially curated by Paprika Kitchen in synthesis with the musical theme. Under the Banyan Tree on a Full Moon Night is set in the beautifully lush and serene 1AQ; an inspiring venue, conceptualised by Anubhav Nath, which offers stunning views of the Qutab Minar. Add to that, the company of a select community and culinary treats, and the silver full moon in autumn and you’re sure to have all the elements necessary for an unforgettable musical soirée.
The next concert will be on November 24 2018.