An interface with music

When Carnatic vocalist Aruna Sairam takes the stage for Aikya India 2010, she will not only be regaling music lovers with 12 songs from various Indian languages, but she will also be doing her bit to help ageing, retired and needy accompanying artists from the realm of classical music.

For, the concert hopes to raise funds for Smrutha Dhvani, an initiative of Global Adjustment and The Interface, an NGO.

What is Smrutha Dhvani all about? Usha Sridhar, the moving force behind The Interface, explains, “It is an effort to repay ageing accompanying artists who have contributed immensely to classical music. It is some sort of a pension fund for those who are in their twilight years and need financial assistance. As Ranjani Manian (CEO Global Adjustments) and I got talking about music, we realised that there are many artists who play instruments that are slowing losing their sheen… ghatam, thavil and morsing to name a few. So we decided to set up this fund to help such people. We hope more individuals and corporates join in and contribute to the cause.”

THE CORE GROUP: (from left) Usha Sridhar, Ranjini Manian,Unnikrishnan and Sudharani Raghupathy

The committee for this initiative comprises dancer Sudharani Raghupathy, Ranjani, and Usha with vocalist Unnikrishnan as brand ambassador.

Says Ranjani, “We have always ridden on the shoulders of Indian culture and through this endeavour, we hope to be able to give back to our culture at large and to the artist fraternity, in particular.”

The criteria

There are several criteria for choosing a beneficiary – number of active years, age, financial status and so on. Taking into account these aspects, Interface has chosen three people who will benefit from the funds raised through the Aikya concert.

The first is Ganesan, a tambura artist, who has been playing since the age of eight. He has accompanied many greats such as M.S. Subbulakshmi and Tiger Varadachariar. Says Usha, “We chose him when we discovered that he makes just about Rs. 250 for a show! And that too if the main artist is generous! Besides, the tambura is almost extinct now with electronic sruti boxes taking its place.”

Ghatam vidwan E.M. Subramanian and composer Thanjavur Sankara Iyer are the other two beneficiaries. “We zeroed in on Sankara Iyer as he is dire straits. Also composing for classical music seems to be on the wane.”

The Interface, which was started in 2006, aims to bring together people who need support and people who want to support. Usha says, “Our core competencies are to identify meaningful social causes that need a client’s support, profile them, help build a portfolio, and offer end-to-end tracking of the investment that is made by an individual or a corporate.” It works in several areas such as education, geriatrics, sanitation, women, arts and crafts, and healthcare. Contact The Interface at 98402-28008 or email theinterfaceonline@gmail.com or log on to www.theinterface.in

[The Aikya India 2010 show, co-sponsored by The Standard Chartered Private Bank, will be presented on March 27, 7 p.m., at MVSR Hall, Lady Andal School, Harrington Road, Chetpet. Donor passes (Rs. 2,500, Rs. 1,000, Rs. 500 and Rs. 250) are available at Global Adjustments, No.5, 3rd Main Road, R.A. Puram; Landmark (all outlets); Odyssey (Adyar and R. A. Puram) and Amethyst (Gopalapuram).]

12 languages, one theme…

If the recent ‘Mile Sur Mera Tumhara’ video proved that music is a binding force, so will Aikya India 2010, a musical offering by Global Adjustments. The show that will see the vocal powers of Aruna Sairam blend with the creative eye of Thota Tharrani and the wordplay of Ranjani Manian, will unfold on March 27.

The concert is for a cause, and in this case, it’s Smrutha Dhvani, an initiative of Interface, an NGO, and Global Adjustments, to care for retiring or retired artists in the field of the performing arts.

The format is the brainchild of Aruna Sairam. “Actually, while in college, we used to host what we called the Magic Carpet show, where songs from various Indian languages would find a place. That theme seemed perfect for Aikya India 2010.” This also gives Aruna a chance to showcase a wide repertoire of songs that she has learnt over the years travelling the length and breadth of India.

She recalls, “While living in Rajkot, I once heard a Rajasthani musician sing a local folklore with just an ektara to keep beat. The song moved me so much that I decided to learn it at once.” Similarly, she found herself “in the midst of thousands of devotees during the magnificent Rath Yatra of Puri Jagannath and heard the Oriya bhajan. I managed to get somebody to write down the lyric and learnt it at once. The Bengali bhajan I learnt is sung at Kolkata’s Mahakali temple at 3.30 a.m. daily.”

Melodies such as these from 12 Indian tongues including Sanskrit, Marathi, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and of course, Tamil will be presented by Aruna on March 27. As Aruna adds, “The theme is unity in diversity, but the underlying bhava will be bhakti.”

Setting the stage

Lending an aesthetic air to the proceedings will be the simple yet striking stage decoration by Thota Tharrani. “White, the colour of divinity, purity and peace, will envelop the stage. I plan to use letters of the alphabet from various languages to illustrate the theme. And maybe light it from below to create the right atmosphere,” is how Tharrani chooses to describe his vision of the sets. “The set should be such that it does not distract yet complements the music.”

Playing sutradhar will be Ranjani Manian, the moving force behind Global Adjustments. “We have all along been playing cultural connectors to expats and have helped them see India. To that effect, we plan a multimedia presentation of photographs of India as perceived by expats.” There will be eight accompanying artists.

Ranjani will take the audience through Aruna’s songs, and in the process showcase a nation that moves forward in spite of and because of its multi-cultural ethos.

[The Aikya 2010 show, sponsored by The Standard Chartered Bank, will be presented on March 27, 7 p.m., at MVSR Hall, Lady Andal School, Harrington Road, Chetpet. Donor passes (Rs. 2,500, Rs. 1,000, Rs. 500 and Rs. 250) are available at Global Adjustments, No.5, 3rd Main Road, R.A. Puram; Landmark (all outlets); Odyssey (Adyar and R. A. Puram); Chamiers; and Amethyst (Gopalapuram). Book online at www.indianstage.in. For details, call 98800 36611.]

A novel way to re-launch!

CHENNAI: When the eminent artist Thota Tharrani finished his artwork — a swaying Indian belle setting free a dove, reaching out to a silvery moon above — in just 30 minutes, the silence that prevailed till then broke out and the sounds of admiration filled the lounge of Courtyard by Marriott on Friday. The painting is to be used as the cover page of a magazine Culturama, which is being re-launched this March by Global Adjustments, an organisation that offers various services for expatriates.

It was previously being published as At A Glance.

The audience exclaimed in awe when Tharrani gave the final touches for the painting, which depicts India promoting peace in the world.
Beginning with yellow (a tradition for the artist), he filled the rest of the canvas in warm hues of orange, burgundy, white and black.

Indian music maestro Padmashri Aruna Sairam began the functionwith an invocation song and the US Consul General Andrew Simkin handed over the black marker to Thota Tharrani to begin the event.

Initially, there was silence as the audience concentrated on each stroke of the artist as a piano played Indian ragas in the background. Tharrani told the audience to feel free to talk, as he had often painted with children running around him, and once when a dog chased a cat. The Global Adjustments crew thanked the artist and honoured all the team members who were behind the production of Culturama.

An evening of art and conversations