Hindustani met folk at this mellifluous night of the sarod, in Chennai recently

In the land of Carnatic music, brothers and sarod maestros Amaan and Ayaan Ali Bangash enthralled the Chennai audience with Hindustani music

Romal Laisram Published :  20th September 2022 10:11 PM   |   Published :   |  20th September 2022 10:11 PM
The Bangashs

The Bangashs

What was expected to be a night of pure Hindustani renditions, something quite different for a regular Chennai weekend, turned out to be a night of pure indulgent surprises. Sarod maestros Amaan and Ayaan Ali Bangash were in town recently for a concert organised by HCL.

The venue was packed in no time and one could feel the excitement in the air, before Ayaan, as always, introduced the first piece and the magic began. Chennai is not often a choice for many Hindustani musicians thanks to the much-touted myth of the city not being appreciative of Hindustani music — the sheer numbers at this performance proved that myth wrong.

HCL returned to Chennai with a concert after a gap of two years and they chose well by bringing Amaan and Ayaan who also have a near-celeb status even beyond the world of music. Presenting a selection of traditional ragas and compositions of their father (Ahmed Ali Khan) and grandfather (Hafiz Ali Khan), the duo was accompanied by Satyajit Talwalkar on tabla and local-favourite Sridhar Parthasarathy on mridangam.

Staying true to the heritage of senia bangash gharana that the family represents, most pieces were very definitive of the style, but what caught our attention was the penultimate piece that paid homage to folk music from Assam and Bengal. To hear the sarod adapt to this earmarked style of music with strong folk, baul, tribal and even Rabindra Sangeet-inspired tunes was indeed a pleasure. Needless to say, the evening came to a close with a much-welcomed interpretation of a Hindustani favourite Rag Miyan Ki Malhar dedicated to the rains and an expected jugalbandi with Amaan taking on Satyajit and Ayaan’s sarod toying with Sridhar’s mridangam. The tabla-sarod was something we’ve all heard, but the mridangam-sarod exchange was interesting, to say the least.

“Every concert is special and the inspiration is always the audience. It has been our good fortune to have met and shared some wonderful moments whenever we played in Chennai. I remember the first time we met MS Subbulakshmi, after whom our mother (Subhalakshmi Barua Khan) is named, was in 1989 at Rani Seethai Hall when she was receiving the Haafiz Ali Khan Award. Her award was presented to her by her guru, sangeet pitamaha Semmanguddi Srinivas Iyer. During the same visit, she very kindly arranged our visit to Kanchipuram to take blessings from Chandrasekharendra Saraswati Mahaswamigal. We were very fortunate to have darshans of all three shankaracharyas. She also attended our debut in Chennai at Narada Gana Sabha in 1993 with Semmanguddi Srinivas Iyer and DK Pattamal. Sadly, all three of them are no more today. We also visited her home and she was as always, her charming self — full of radiance and positivity,” shared Amaan, as we caught up with the duo after the concert. “We have a very emotional relationship with Chennai as our mother also studied at Kalakshetra for fifteen years under Rukmini Devi Arundale. Therefore, food from Chennai is always a staple in our home. Chennai is like a second home to us,” Ayaan concluded.