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Krishna's journey... with Ronu Majumdar

ANJANA RAJAN speaks to Ronu Majumdar, who has created the album "Krishna's Journey" and looks forward to composing thematic music for Bollywood... .


RENOWNED FLAUTIST Pandit Ronu Majumdar whose latest album, "Krishna's Journey" - a collection of thematic instrumental pieces with flute as the mainstay - was launched by Sony Music recently hopes that a great dancer will choreograph it some day. With santoor by Satish Vyas, keyboard by Atul Desai and tabla by Yogesh Samsi, as well as solo vocals by Ashit Desai, "Krishna's Journey" is a musical evocation of images and tales associated with the Divine cowherd-king who has played a dominant role in Indian thought, art and literature down the ages. Based on classical ragas or folk tunes, the compositions begin with "The Birth of Krishna" and continue through various aspects such as His love for Radha - quaintly titled "The Love Affair of Radha and Krishna" - till "Preaching" based on the Bhagvad Gita and finally His departure from the earth. One can well imagine dance sequences to this kind of music, and this is not merely because the art world is replete with dance dramas on Krishna. The album itself is inspired by a dance production.

It was many years ago that Ronu Majumdar saw the innovative solo stage production `Draupadi' by the renowned dancer and his good friend, Sonal Mansingh. It was then he thought that Krishna being his `Ishta Devata', he would also attempt to create a musical homage to the Lord.

While composing tunes for the various episodes in Krishna's life, he came across one stumbling block, says the versatile artiste, who has created music for a number of projects including Kavita Krishnamurthy's non-film album "Koi Akela Kahan", the lesser known "Carrying Hope" associated with pregnancy, produced by Music Today, and the theme music for the Hollywood film "Primary Colours", besides participating in `Ghanshyam' the famous collaboration between Pandit Ravi Shankar and the late Kathak maestro Durga Lal.

At a loss how to interpret Krishna's heart-rending departure from Mathura, he turned to his father and guru, Dr. Bhanu Majumdar - a disciple of the late flute vidwan Pannalal Ghosh as well as a renowned medical doctor and painter - for help. His father sang a touching lori - lullaby - and the composition was created around it. Similarly, the final piece, describing Krishna's departure from the earth, is based on Tagore's "Ami chini go chini tomaare, ogo bideshini" which he explains is his favourite song in Rabindra Sangeet, and to which he has given the interpretation that the devotee is addressing Krishna to say, "I know you, who lives across the oceans," and has realised that the epitome of beauty and love always resides in the heart of the beloved, not separately. These two pieces, therefore, points out the eminent flautist, are not his original compositions.

When it comes to giving credit where it is due, the flute maestro, who played in R.D. Burman's orchestra for years, is concerned that in the film world, the names of the instrumentalists - even the soloists - are not usually publicised. Though artistes like himself get known through their own performances, there are many great soloists like the saxaphone player Manohari Singh, who languish unknown since they only participate in playback songs though they are of a calibre equal to the greatest international names. Happy that the trend is changing now, Ronu Majumdar looks forward to an opportunity to compose for Bollywood films that provide an opportunity to create thematic image-based music.

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