Shakti – Indian Classical Gods


For a while now I have been hooked on to the music of shakti – the band comprising of Zakhir Hussain, John Macaulay, Mandolin Srinivas, Vikkuvinaykram, Selva Ganesh and in the past the great L. Shankar. I had been fortunate once in the past to attend a concert of theirs in Hyderabad where for two hours they created magic with their art.

But for a few days now I have had a chance to introspect their music and I have begun to feel that some of their best compositions needed the most underrated of their troupe.

L.Shankar who was a part of the group that first started out way back in the 70’s had an amazing skill to render long notes of high-pitched rhythms that can seldom be matched by anyone who uses an instrument other-than Violin. Yet he always remained in the shadow whereas equally brilliant but comparatively less special Zakhir and John have taken away all the credit.

Yes, they are the initial creators of the band but the music of shakti always remained on the strings of classical instruments whose exponents over the years have not received as much recognition as the others. As is the case of Mandolin Srinivas now who still is the most underrated member of the troupe when he is the soul of the strings out there.

The best example that I can give is a recital called the Danse de Bonheur where previously it was the pace of L.Shankar that brought out the top-notch quality in that performance and now when its performed it’s the mind-blowing speed of srinivas that add’s the zing to it.

Also is the case of Vikku-Vinayakram and Selva Ganesh who when performing solo render the audience spell bound by their variety but as a part of shaki they get dominated.

Zakhir is Zakhir any day and can hold his own but any day percussion instruments are always the step cousins to the strings and so he always has to be contending to have the role of the co-performer.

John is another story who should be applauded for having mastered the classical indian art forms and ragas but I have always felt that when left on his own to play the ragas he always falls flat but because of his charm gets the day to himself.

But all said and done for a while now this is going to be a flavor in my life but it’s sad to see at times when the real performers are given a raw deal and all that glitz and glam takes away the glory!

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