Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sonic intervention

The annual Jaipur Literature Festival is rewarding on different levels right from talks on various forms of literature to poetry to… music. William Dalrymple and his team understand that nothing’s better than music to help one unwind after attending multiple sessions throughout the day. Right from Salman Ahmad’s beautiful, reckless music to Suheir Hammad’s soul edifying poetry, the Festival will take a lovely “James Joyce meets Monsoon Wedding” detour every evening of January 21-25.

Susheela Raman’s authentically soulful timber aided by Aref Durvesh, Nathoo Solanki, Kutle Khan, Chugee Khan and Sam Mills should be a barbecue jam of sorts. If her recent performance at NH7 Weekender in Pune is any indication then Susheela is testing new waters and how. She seems confident that the raw emotions in her Tamil music would definitely soar stratospherically. She didn’t bother to sing her most popular song ‘yeh mera deewanapan hai’ (from the movie Namesake) and even dismissed requests by saying that “it’s old”. However, fans of her day job seem content to lay hands on any pie of her séance with the Supreme Being. Maybe this is how music can be an utterly transforming experience.

Unlike last year, this time there are quite a few international acts lined up. One being an Algerian DJ called Cheb I Sabbah whose clever mixes of earthy Indian music interspersed with schizoid religious chants will be a huge draw.

London-based band Transglobal Underground’s mish-mash of western, oriental and African music styles is so addictive that it might even blow your argyle socks off. We wouldn’t know their playlist but if they choose to play ‘Temple Head’, ‘Tal Zamaan’ and ‘Delta Disco’, your trip to Jaipur would be worth for the music alone. Belgian singer Natacha Atlas’ (a former Transglobal Underground member) fusion of Arabic and Western hip-hop is certain to drive the crowd utterly mental. With a little bit of chemical assistance, some of her songs like ‘Leysh nat’arak’, ‘Yalla Chant’ and ‘Le Printemps’ are guaranteed mindmelters.

Another artist worth watching is Tunisian singer Ghalia Benali, whose fluid voice can be described as the Arabian reincarnate of Billie Holiday. Sample a song called ‘Rome & Juliet’ where the juxtaposition of pain and sensuality is pure Billie Holiday. We expect the meeting of poets Jeet Thayil, Omar Musa and Suheir Hammad to be a standout performance. Thayil, popular for being one half of the music duo Sridhar/Thayil, has four collections of poetry to his name; Suheir Hammad a Palestinian-American poet writes poems stabbing at the post-modern society’s propensity for sexism; And Omar Musa is an Australian poet and rapper, who won the Australian Poetry Slam in 2008.

What more, there are some brilliant Indian acts performing too like Shyopat Julia, Rajasthani musicians, Gafaruddin Mewati, Jaipur Kawa Brass Band. We can already see the Diggi Palace (the Festival venue) exploding the way Mt Eyjaffjallajokull did last year: difference would be that in Jaipur people will fly.


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