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Lilting Songs of the Dessert Echoed at Museo Camera


The Manganiyars, a Concertalk organised by Kal – Aakaar Collective, got the audience swaying to the folk music of the desert land at Museuo Camera recently, which also was a celebration of the completion of 13 years of the camera museum.

Does music have its own stories to tell? Do we fail our folk artists by not diving deep into the stories that they have to offer? Will their Music find a wider understanding audience – outside the purview of what has been made famous by Bollywood, re-creating the magic of their songs in films are some questions seeking answers?

Baithak (Concertalk), a gathering of music lovers creating ripples among niche musicians and music aficionados, bridges the gap between the audience and the performing artists. The Sutradhaar introduces the audience to the history of the music being played, narrates folk stories related to songs and takes the listeners on the journey of the history of the Gharana of the artists and more making the entire experience of listening to live music more profound and meaningful.  “Concertalks are very fulfilling for the audience and artists since the audience is alert and interactive. The artists feel connected with the audience. Most of our concerts are based on this theme, and the discerning audience greatly appreciate the effort since they go back more informed about their kind of music,” said Prachi Gambhir Dutta, who has been working to revive the classical arts, music and Indian culture as a founder and director of Kal-Aakaar Collective.

The Manganiyars are hereditary musicians from areas mainly of Jaisalmer & Barmer in Rajasthan. Their music finds a connection to every special occasion of life, from the birth of the child to the last journey. The concert at Museo Camera traced a child’s life with interconnected background stories in the lyrics, taking the audience on a journey of life- a full circle. “At Kal Aakkar, we want our artists to​ be understood and not just hear​d​,” said Prachi enthusiastically, the event’s curator and story narrator (Sutradhaar).  Aditya Arya, the historian, archivist and curator and owner of a personal collection of Photographic equipment displayed at the camera museum, was delighted to see the overwhelming response and participation of the audience as he plans to further bring in performing artists of different genres to the centre.

Lesser known musical instruments

The Manganiyars are known to create richly melodious rhythms which are energetic, soulful, yet complex, along with deep vocals of artists. These artists use lesser-known instruments, the Kamaicha and the Kadtaal, along with Dholak.

 Seeing the audience’s warm, interactive and enthusiastic response, the Manganiyars artists were visibly moved. Sawai Khan, lead Vocalist, said, “After the long haul of Covid performances like these ignites and music.  Rafiq Khan, playing Kamiacha & supporting vocals, said, “We have a rich tradition of music running in our blood from generations, and we thrive on the love of our audience. Bware Khan on harmonium & supporting vocals, along with Dileep Khan on Dholak created a perfect musical symphony. Jakir Khan on Kadtaal, the youngest band member, received a lot of love and appreciation from the audience. “I am still in awe looking at this young musician; how effortlessly he creates music by moving the wooden blocks on his fingers, absolutely mesmerizing,” said Amita Khare, a professional storyteller attending the event. The ​K​hartaal is a kind of castanet made of teak. Its name is derived from “Khar,” meaning hand, and “Taal,” meaning rhythm.

Kal-Aakaar Collective has been working to revive, rejuvenate, and create a vibrant cultural community in Gurugram through its Performing Arts Academy, Traditional Arts Platform and various curated and specially designed events for children and adults for seven years. Its Performing Arts Platform Avirbhav brings truly experiential evenings of music, dance, and theatre with a host of renowned and upcoming artists, to stage in Gurugram for families.

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