Sukanta Bose and Alexandre Jurain perform at Studio21 on Thursday. Picture by Arnab Mondal
Outside, it was sultry and stifling. Inside Studio21, it was all calm and beautiful as a river flowed, a caravan passed and children played around a merry-go-round in the imaginary world of Azarak.
French musician Alexandre Jurain and Indian singer Sukanta Bose transported the audience to this enchanting world through a musical journey complete with the strains of the esraj, the sound of didgeridoo (a wind instrument developed by indigenous Australians) and songs in a strange language.
The Indo-French couple have been performing their unique composition for the last four years at Midnapore, Santiniketan, Bangladesh, France and other places.
“The music is the result of Alexandre’s research of more than 10 years,” said Sukanta.
Alexandre, who loves composers like Bach and Beethoven, had come to Santiniketan to study Hindustani classical music, especially the esraj, from Abir Singh Khangura. As he mastered the esraj, he began composing his own music in the land of the bard. And on the eve of Tagore’s birth anniversary, Sukanta sang five songs that went beyond words and meaning to paint their own picture.
“Azarak is an imaginary river. Alex composes the tune and puts imaginary sounds or words that go best with it. Thus our language is composed. I learn the tune,” explained Sukanta, who admitted it had been difficult for her initially.
“I write the words down for her,” added Alexandre, while interacting with the audience after the show. Sometimes he also recites poetry, again in eloquent gibberish.
“So many fans have told us they were transported to the land of melancholia or tranquillity after our show,” smiled Sukanta.
The talk veered towards gypsies of various lands and how the music reminded the audience of those people and their nomadic lives.
The flute-like didgeridoo heightened the effect as Sukanta sang a heady number. “The flute made from the hollow wood of the eucalyptus tree weighs 4-5 kg,” said Alexandre after the show.
The couple divides their time shuttling between Santiniketan and France, spreading music wherever they go.