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When at the very outset it was clearly spelt out to the Calcutta audience that this musical evening is one of the sort where the musicians wont be performing together, there wont be jazzy orchestra with which city audience is familiar with, we were keeping our fingers crossed- could a show seemingly targeted for the niche audience cut a mark in the heart of some 700 odd people expecting high voltage RDB evening to warm up the sleepy winter evening!! A group of 4 musicians and that also allotted individual time and space in the wide open stage of Kala Mandir is a different and difficult proposition altogether and the city audience is still intoxicated with the hangover of Late Manohari Singh’s waving of fingers and the melee of musicians bellowing out music as bold as brass!

The gentleman on stage was Mr Pramod Sane, the tabla maestro extraordinaire, who came to Calcutta for the first time- Mr Sane told us of his long association with Pancham da’s chief rhythm assistant Maruti Rao Keer and how the two legends used to communicate with their eyes and unsaid words to weave rhythm and music-If Soumitrada’s part was flamboyant exploring the occidental aspect of our LoRD, Pramod ji’s section was poles apart- the eastern percussion and the nuances of tabla in several Pancham da classics-The tune that made a long lasting impact on Pramod ji was Main Ghazab Ki Cheez Hun(Rickshawala) and from Agar Tum Na Hote days, he became an indispensable tabla player of HIS team- The ambience of the stage was totally converted into something of a majlish when Sane ji demonstrated on OST of Baanj Uthi Ghungroo,Shyam Se Aankh, Jhute Tere Nain and Parveen Sultana version of Humein Tumse Pyar Kitna- It was a treat to watch him demonstrating Chhappi and the brief yet telling use of tabla in Aaj Ki Raat-On the one hand he explained the classical notes of 10 matra in Dil Padosi Hain number and on the other hand he showed us how HE made a fusion of western beats and eastern tabla in Ma Maiya Kero Kero and Badan Pe Chandni-Very few of us knew that in Rooth Na Jaana 2 tablas were played and in Batata Vada it is actually tabla that was played in Mridangam style- Pramod ji’s section was more than a show, it was a lesson for hundreds of Pancham bhakts and not very often we get a scope of learning so many unexplored traits of HIS music- Listening to Panchamda’s music would be a different experience as those very numbers on which Pramod ji played will be listened with additional elements of knowledge and liking from now on

The man who took the stage after Pramod Sane ji is Mr Vijay Indurkar, another original RDB coming for the first time in our city-Here I would like to tell you about a man whose performance raised a couple of questions in me—One, why we have never seen this man before? Two, how many performances we need to see to get little bit of knowledge from this great great musician!!It is quite tough a job to review his show because emotion and adjectives seem to make a bottle neck and I still hear thunderous clapping and roars of acclamation from the audience when this little demure gentleman kept on displaying his skill staying fully unnerved amid continuous applause!! Humble or modest are truly ineffectual adjectives to define this man who simply knows nothing but music- The way he stands, the way he utters minimal words(being forced to speak something when Ankushji wanted something to hear from him) and the way he wears his smile and joins his shaking palms together to accept the encore of the ecstatic audience—he will be there straight in your heart for the rest of your life!! He didn’t clearly remember the inception of his association with our LoRD but he played matka and other percussion instruments with Dada Burman as well(his show started off with his matka on the OST of Dil Pukare)- This soft spoken man fights desperately shy of being interviewed because he simply breathes music and lets his fingers do all the talking- It was Ankushji who acted as the sutradhar to the different heterogeneous sounds that he produced on that evening- If his classical matka on Otho Otho Surjaire and Tere Bina Main Kuch Bhi Nahin Hoon make you feel typsy, the pedal matka of Samne Yeh Kaun Aaya and khanjari on resso in Khatooba will see you go berserk- ‘once more’ sound keeps flowing from this corner to that as the man got absorbed in mind blowing demonstration of matka (Chadti Jawani and Challa Mera) , rubbing of hammer on tabla to demostrate that inexplicable sound of Kaise Mitti Ke and Muttu Kuri(Ankushji joined hands with pedal matka this time), sticks on Aise na Mujhe Tum Dekho, khanjari on Kahin Na Jaa and Aaj Ki Raat(Anamika) and metal resso on Jaana O Meri Jaana-They was a feeling of sheer awe and bewilderment thinking the sounds that for ages kept our feet tapping were from this man!! From Ankush ji we came to know that Vijay ji once bought a scooter to reach studio but as he could not drive he hired a driver and himself sat as the pillion rider! “Aise bhola aadmi maine kabhi nahin dekha”, mused Ankushji-He is known to be the ‘doctor saab’ and is fondly addressed like that by other musicians as he is the one and only ‘doctor’ of musical instruments- All the instruments he demonstrated were his own inventions and there were many more unseen and unheard instruments in his Pandora’s box that he couldn’t demonstrate for the time constraint-Had our LoRD being alive, god knows how many newer mysterious sounds HE could have had from this man!!The show had to take a break because it was well within the scheduled second half but this man simply left the crowd wanting for more

When the curtain raises after the break with the wild drumbeats of Ek Haseen Gulbadan being played on tracks the crowd got a feeling of what explosives were in store for the second half- From right to left of the stage there was the ageless acoustic drumset, a curious looking drumset of various circumference on whose steel rim the light was shining bright and a newage octopad and the man with the magical drumsticks appeared in his casual polo neck black tee and took his seat behind the cymbals and tom tom-Franco Vaz’s high voltage show pushed off with his demonstration of octopad(Tumi Koto Je Dure) and then the electrifying drums demo on Aa Dekhe Zara and Pyar Nagma Hain- There were a few lesser heard numbers as well like Phir Aankh Pharki Sanam(Ankushji and Franco Ji spoke of the use of rim shot and sync drum on this)Tum Dilwalon Ke Age and Dekho Dekho Yeh to Kamaal and our memories were refreshed once more when he narrated the story of the innovation in the pick up of O Maria or the use of snare drums in Jab Chaha Yaara Tumne-Franco ji was a lot inspired by the classic Sholay title theme and always wanted to play the tune-Pancham da recreated the same tune in Hum Dilwale years after and this time Franco Vaz didn’t lose the opportunity of fulfilling his dream-But this time unlike the Sholay music, the drum was detuned and that slight changes brought remarkable changes in the sound reproduction-Audience came to know of the jerk rhythm used in the song 1-2 Cha Cha Cha and how western instruments was used in the Ghazal-like Pyar Ke Mod Pe- But the high water mark of Franco Vaz’s performance came at three junctures-- a) demo of ghungroo b) demo of quicka and c) demo of rotodrum

Ghungroo is such an instrument that automatically brings up the image of nimble feet movement of dancers but who can ever imagine that the mesmeric ghungroo in Piya Bawri actually came when Franco thumped and shook the ghungroo with his hand!!Quicka is the Brazilian instrument which Pancham da happened to come across on the lanes of Rio in the Rio Carnival and it was Mr Franco Vaz who mastered this strange instrument to bring that strange sound in Macher Kanta

But the best was kept at last -That hitherto unseen series of toms of various circumferences were actually Roto toms and the total drum set was called Rotodrums – Remember the series of drumbeats that came after Kishore da’s high pitched crooning Rocky Mera Naam of the song Doston Ka Salaam(Rotodrum was also demonstrated on the OST of Chodo Sanam)??It was when this Rototom was rotated and Franco played on that single Tom but the sound would beguile one as if it was coming from successive toms- This was simply jaw dropping stuff from the drummer- The oohs and aaahs were unstoppable as the man bids adieu with a promise of bringing more from his kitty next time he will be here- It was well past 10 at night but the thirst was insatiable and 3 and a half hour seemed moments that just flew in a flicker

It was as if the December chill takes a temporary retreat when the smouldering heat of our LoRD’s music smeared us with warmth-The crowd streamed out with resonating cadences of music and with memories refurbished once more-So what we had thought of having just 4 musicians and that also their individual performances in the wide stage of Kala Mandir turned out to be 4 vertices which never met but formed a perfect square-

One last word should go for the man for whom our gratefulness never ceases- The chalta-firta encyclopedia, Mr Ankush Chinchankar without whom such a show could never ever been conceived of- Giving ideas is all right but executing those ideas into reality is something only Ankushji can.

By Jayant Sur on Friday, 9 March 2012 at 16:03

It was truly a tryst with timelessness---