Rahman unites India’s musical traditions in web series

The finale.

After four-and-a-half years, iconic filmmaker late K Balachander’s production house, Kavithalayaa, has now resumed its work with the release of digital content.

Coming up with an idea of non-fiction, the musical web series, Harmony, with A R Rahman, will unite various sounds of India on a single page with the musical maestro connecting them all.

In the five-episode series, Rahman visits places like Kerala, Maharashtra, Sikkim and Manipur, in the first four chapters, and finally ends up in a studio to create a magical composition that is a medley of the native sounds of all the four places with Tamilnadu’s parai.

However, the series is not just about making music, but, tracing their history and roots.

In the first episode, Rahman explores Kerala where he collaborates with Kalamandalam Sajith Vijayan, an ace instrumentalist, who plays the historic mizhavu.

Sajith refers to Silapathikaram when he explains its roots. “It is denoted as muzhavu in Silapathikaram,” he says.

Featuring Mickma Tshering Lepcha, the fourth episode takes one to Sikkim where Mickma shows how he selects his flute from a bamboo plant. “We are the last of Lepchas who have a band. So, we wanted our art form to grow further.”

Rahman on one of his journeys.

Mickma and his troupe have been revolutionising their native music with western sounds and are running a band successfully.Similarly, Rahman explores the sounds Rudra Veena by Ustad Mohi Baha’uddin Dagar in Navi Mumbai and folk vocalist of Manipur Lourembam Bedabati.

Throughout his travel to all these places, he recalls his memory relating to the land or the art form. During a conversation with Mohi, Rahman points to the composition of his numbers ‘Udhaya Udhaya’ from the movie ‘Udhaya‘, and ‘Uyire’ from ‘Bombay’ which are based on the sorrowful notes of Raga Charukesi.

Also, Rahman remembers the early days of his career, when he used to play for All India Radio and chuckles after getting reminded of the Government of India tiffin at AIR station canteen.

Having all five sounds blending into a musical montage in the end, this melody, titled ‘Heart is in Ecstasy‘, runs straight into the heart and establishes the diversity of sounds in the subcontinent. Experiencing it in an Atmos sound system pushes one to a state of euphoria.