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Mystic beats

Before leaving for California to record with Pandit Ravi Shankar for the sitar maestro’s studio outing after a decade, Tanmoy Bose told t2 about the upcoming three-day Sufi Sutra festival in Calcutta, Taal Tantra’s new sound and what it means to be the first choice on the tabla for the sitar legend.

What are you recording with Ravi Shankar?

This is primarily a recording of Indian classical music with Raviji. He’s had live concert recordings and the last he did something in the studio was for Anoushka’s (Shankar) Breathing Under Water in 2007, but this one’s going to be his first full-length classical studio album after almost 10 years. He’s composed a tarana with tabla bol that we begin with. We will record over the year and the album should be ready for release by end-2011. It will be produced by his own record label, East Meets West Music. Anoushka is playing in the album and also finishing her new project but since she’s in an advanced stage of pregnancy we had to hurry the recording.

You spend half the year playing and touring with Ravi Shankar and Anoushka. How did you become the chosen one?

When Anoushka joined Raviji, he wanted two tablas with two sitars. He started interviewing and playing with young tabla players but he wasn’t getting a musically compatible player to match his style.

I had met him briefly in the past and he knew my music. Before a concert in Santiniketan in 1997, he called me from California. He wanted me to play with him at Gour Prangan. That was my first concert with him and I’m blessed that it’s continued that way. The bond today is very special.

You are planning an international Sufi festival in Calcutta...

Sufi music has recently become popular here but people hardly know much about it. I felt people should be given a chance to experience its core forms, learn about its practice around the world and the Sufi way of life. People just know Abida Parveen.... Sufi music trails The Grand Trunk Road to North Africa. The philosophy might be the same but the language, instruments and styles of singing are different. So, Amitabha Bhattacharya of Banglanatok dot com and I started working on bringing in these artistes for Sufi Sutra.

What’s Sufi Sutra going to be like?

It’s a three-day event, starting everyday at 11am and going on till 11pm. There will be food stalls, shops and a Q&A corner where people can interact with the musicians. There are nine performing groups from Azerbaijan, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh and India. There will be an audio-visual section to screen films and an open stage where the artistes can take turns to jam all day. At 6pm, the main concert begins.

Aparnadi (Sen) will inaugurate the show on February 4. Shantanu Moitra will introduce the show on February 5 and I’ll do it myself on the final day. The state tourism department will provide around 10 buses connecting Nicco Park with the main city junctions for those three evenings. The show is not ticketed and anyone can come in.

Any new plans for your project Taal Tantra?

I think I’ve found a new sound for Taal Tantra. I was doing shows, bringing in musician friends from around the world but wasn’t sure of what I was looking for. It was about bridge-building with world music but I didn’t want clutter on stage. So I want to separate the parts... maybe have a high-powered drumming section and a completely separate blues piece with Bauls for a communion between the two forms. It’ll now be more appealing visually, the language will be softer and there will be more space.

You have conceptualised a fashion show too...

It’s not a fashion show in the typical sense. It’s called Mahabharata Revisited which will premiere at the Golf Green Utsav on January 26. Models walking the ramp are artistes too and I thought of connecting fashion with the most fashionable women in mythology. The show will have seven female characters from the Mahabharata in period costumes and accessories. Some of them are June, Pallavi Chatterjee, Locket Chatterjee, Alokananda Roy and Warda Rihab, a Manipuri dancer from Bangladesh. The costumes have been designed by Nilanjana Ghose (wife of director Goutam Ghose). Vikram Iyengar has choreographed the show. I have done the music; it is very classical and fused with Bratati Bandopadhyay’s recitation of Karna Kunti Sambad.

What about TV and film work?

I’ll be doing the music for Bappaditya Bandopadhyay’s next film. At present I’m looking forward to Taal-e Tanmoy Rock-e Rupam, a reality show with Rupam on Aakaash Bangla. I’ll be on the search of a band that can play world music and Rupam’s focus will be on rock. It’ll have a documentary angle so I’ll be travelling to the suburbs, meeting folk artistes. I’m also doing the play Taasher Desh with Anusheh Anadil from Bangladesh, designed very differently with world music and dance elements. It will premiere in Dhaka in February before I take it to Europe.

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