The weekend turned out to be a one-day affair what with Saturday being a working day in lieu of the holiday enjoyed earlier during the Dasara weekend. Whatever remained of the weekend was spent visiting a friend who’s jumping onto the marriage bandwagon and that too in a chat-mangni-pat-byaah kinda way, with the wedding being finalized for next week.
Sunday evening saw us heading to the Palace Grounds to attend the Shivamani and Mandolin Srinivas concert organized as part of the Times Group sponsored Bangalore Festival. One was lucky to get the VIP passes courtesy a team-mate and being in the surroundings one didn’t wanna miss out on the opportunity. The concert was scheduled for a 7 PM start; we made our way inside by 6.15 PM and were surprised to see a serpentine queue. Thankfully the queue for the VIP entry only resembled a baby snake and we were inside within no time. The evening had already seen a bout of rains and the chaat-walas, corn-butta-seller, the bisi-kadale-puri fellow and popcorn stalls were already doing brisk business.
We picked our way inside amidst the already slushy grounds and managed to bag seats in what must’ve been the 10th or the12th row from the stage. The sound checks were being carried out on stage while there was no sign of the artistes themselves. Well, ‘there is still time’ we thought and busied ourselves checking out the people around us. There was a nice-looking quiet couple next to us on the left and a dignified, aptly-dressed-for-the-occasion elderly couple clad in woollens on the far left. On the right side, we were flanked by a pair of elegantly dressed working ladies in their late twenties. The seats in front were occupied by a local celebrity and his kin; while sitting behind us was a bright, happy and loud family of four, who looked like they were on a picnic and were enjoying their evening out.
After sitting for quarter of an hour and with nothing better to do than observe the folks around us, I noticed that people were bringing in yummy eatables aka pop-corn and chaats. Their drool-icious sight coupled with the nip in the air started playing games with my mind and I was hit by hunger-pangs! I nagged the husband to get us some eatables; obliging fellow that he is, he bought us corn-buttas and a cone-full of hot fried kadale-puri. Happily munching the spicy and yummy thingies alternately, we waited for the show to begin.
7.30 PM and still no sign of the artistes – the crowd started getting restless and expressed their displeasure by booing, whistling, clapping and generating as much noise as possible. Guess it did have some effect, ‘coz ten minutes later saw the pori-tapori Rachana from Radio Mirchi on-stage welcoming us all and introducing to a bunch of representatives from the Art of Living foundation (??!!) asking us to participate in a pledge to save the environment and create awareness about global warming. The pledge itself was inane and was read out rather dispassionately, we thought.
Finally after all the foreplay, the famous trio of Shivamani – the talented percussionist, U.Shrinivas – the ace Mandolin player and Steven Devassy – a renowned keyboard artiste took centre-stage by about 7.45 PM. They soon had the crowds enraptured and swaying to the beats. Guess the Gods too liked what they heard and decided to show their appreciation by sending down rains!! What started as a light drizzle soon turned into a full-fledged downpour barely 10 minutes into the programme. Umbrellas and raincoats could be seen bobbing up and down and the crowds persisted in egging the artistes on. But when even after 15 minutes of coming-down-hard the rains didn’t show any signs of letting up, several people – including the aged couple near-by and the boisterous family behind, made their way exit-wards. On-stage too the rain had affected developments – Shivamani’s instruments were getting drenched from the heavy side-ways lashing of the rain and the artistes were getting drenched as well. The evening’s future seemed really bleak when the support staff rushed in to cover the instruments and Srinivas seemed to be wrapping up too by doing a namaskaram to the crowds.
But guess they hadn’t seen the Bangaloreans’ spirit and resilience yet! The local crowds rushed to the front and urged them to continue… Shivamani did a brief impromptu piece on a suitcase (?!) as what he thought would be a good-bye note, but the crowds just didn’t let him rest, chants of “Once more! Once more” filled the air. Shivamani, a sport that he is, soon got under-cover – he ducked under the tarpaulin covering his instruments and started jamming! He soon had the crowd stomping in approval to the tunes of “Humma Humma” and his other hits. His performance was absolutely scorching and the movement of his hands a blur as he belted out his innovative beats one after another. Srinivas and Kevin were left as mere spell-bound spectators. Somewhere along the way, the rains too had abated but nobody seemed to have noticed. Soon enough Shivamani seemed to recover from his reverie and so did the audience. He encouraged the duo to join in with him and we had the stage set for a riveting jugalbandi. Each was a master of his art and the instruments were but slaves dancing to their master’s whims; the audience was enraptured and applauding at every swaram and melody played. Srinivas showed a glimpse of the genius that he is – drawing notes and sangatis which simply didn’t seem possible from his stringed instrument.
The rain-blessed musical extravaganza drew to a close by around 9 PM. The crowds were still milling around and asking for more. They pointed to the array of unusual accompaniments lined on the other side of the stage and pressed Shivamani for an encore on them. Shivamani once again obliged and showed us why he is a percussion-lover’s dream – drawing musical notes from lifeless objects like bottles and water-cans to suitcases and kitchen utensils! Finally he had to literally shoo away the crowds saying – “Just as how too much sweet isn’t healthy, so is the case with this show. We should stop the performance now and keep the rest for our next show in Bangalore!” 🙂
We said ‘amen’ to that and headed out home-wards.