Recently I recorded for a British documentary on Rabindranath Tagore.
I had put up at a cosy two-storeyed mud-hut at the border of a forest. In a way, one will see a fusion of traditional and modern ideas in the hut's making. For example, although the mud-hut had a thatched roof, it also had electricity and a very modern bathroom.
The property is surrounded by paddy fields.
It's in a rural place near Shantiniketan, Rabindranath's Abode of Peace. However rampant urbanization has raised it's evil head here as well. Concrete is replacing mud bricks in the surrounding tribal villages and corrugated steel sheets are replacing the thatched roofs that kept the houses cool all round the year. Looking at this, one would be forced to wonder if Tagore's abode of peace will live up to it's name in the coming decade. As a matter of fact, we got interrupted a couple of times by the noise of motorbikes and Toto-vans passing by and we had to re-take.
Since this was an outdoor shoot during the monsoons, the drastic difference in temperature and humidity was of some concern. Hence keeping the instrument in tune was tricky. Sitting on the verandah, I played Alap in a few ragas, an interpretation of Jana Gana Mana (the Indian National Anthem composed by Tagore) and an interpretation of a Baul song made famous by Tagore and made famous on the sitar by Ustad Vilayat Khan as Bhatiyali Dhun.
Both Tom (the filmmaker) and I are quite satisfied with the way the recordings for the documentary have taken shape. I am sure it would be well appreciated both in India and in the west.
More details will follow soon.
Here is a sample from one of the takes for the project.
Unfortunately, I was very sick (runny nose) and later we had to re-take this piece.
This is a portion of the first take (with sniffles in it that is)
Alap in Misra Khamaj (behind the scenes)
Hope you would enjoy listening to it!