04 May 2011

Music for living or living for music?

Music for Living or Living for Music
Mangda the Musician
Mangda, he said – Mangda naam hai sahib (my name is Mangda). He looked surprised that someone had bothered to ask his name. He was most eager to start playing again, perhaps that’s what he was most comfortable doing. It was hard to guess his age, he looked like he had seen many autumns. He looked old, probably not as old as he was…

I met Mangda on my recent trip to Sariska Tiger Reserve. I first saw him, when we entered the Fort View Camp (now Club Mahindra) at Thanagazi, just outside the Sariska reserve. We had not even stepped down from the car, he started playing and somehow at that very instant I knew I wanted to know him better. We saw him later that evening when he and his wife (perhaps) played for a small group during the evening bonfire, and we soaked in the music amidst the crackling wood fire and winter chill. It was one of finest live music I have heard in recent years. The string instrument he played had a soothing earthy sound, not exactly like the Sarangi or Violin but little rustic and very soulful. I later found out it was called ‘Ravanhatha’. His voice wasn’t sweet or melodious in the conventional sense, but very rhythmic, almost like he was singing from his belly. I could hear him from far. We sat for an hour listening to him sing songs we didn’t understand, tapping our feet to sounds we were not familiar with, and smiling broadly when he would play small snippets of familiar bollywood music from the era bygone – Pakeezah et al.

He told me he belonged to Pushkar and had just come over to Sariska with his family. He lived there and made living singing for tourists. “Bachpan se he baja rahoon hoon (been playing since I was kid)” he said, when I asked him how long has been playing. I was finding it hard to keep the conversation going. Mangda seemed eager to break into his routine again. I told him, I loved his music and that he was a fantastic musician. He was indeed.  I shuffled a fifty rupee note in his hand. He wouldn’t remember me for that I know, but he seemed happy. It wasn’t for money, I know!

What do you think?

*The Rawanhathha of the Thori or Nayak Bhopas is probably the earliest instrument played with a bow, and this humble instrument could well be the precursor of the violin. It has two main strings and a variable number of supporting strings, with a belly of half coconut shell and a body of bamboo. The bow has ghungroos (bells) attached to it. The music is staccato and accompained by the syncopated singing of the Bhopa and the Bhopan. This old instrument finds place in mythology as well – it is said that Ravana played this instrument for Lord Siva. (Source: Wiki)


Dhaami said...

great post! and fantastic portrait.. Isn't this the best thing about photography..the openness and curiosity that develops to meet people and learn about them and their life. You got me wishing to go to Rajasthan just to listen to this instrument .
Also I'm pretty sure he will not remember you just because you gave him money :)

PS: I'm not sure if you are into receiving chain awards but I recently passed on the versatile blogger award to you because I find your photos inspiring :)

mayankpandey said...

Dhaami - thanks again. Look forward to your comments whenever I post. Am
pretty sure he wouldn't remember me for the money - probably he would as a
intrusive stranger asking him so many questions .. :-D
With this chain award you now entrusted me with a noble task - i need to
acknowledge folks who deserve this probably much more than me! Stay in

Maneesh Goal said...

Captures the essence and the mood of the musician very well! Incidentally Ravanhatta is one of my favourite instruments... played along with the tabla, the two are just out of the world! TFS

mayankpandey said...

Maneesh - you like the photo - i like that ! wonder if i will get a chance
to hear it with tabla? i can imagine - ravanhattha is quiet an orchestra by

joshi daniel said...

nice and colorful!

mayankpandey said...

Thanks Daniel for visiting. :-)

sajeevkmenon said...

thanks for giving me a glimpse of this colourful musician:)

mayankpandey said...

Sanjeev - thank you for visiting. Please do visit again.