By ARS Mani
‘Namaskaram,’ replied the musician in a low voice and said ‘Please come closer’.
That’s what the rasikas may have to do to hear him singing in his concerts. Is that the reason some rasikas prefer to sit on the stage? I kept my thoughts to myself.
‘The season is already up and running. How is it going for you?’
‘Gathering momentum,’ he said. Much like the Indian cricket team trying to find the momentum against England, I thought. ‘I am giving 15 concerts this season’, he said.
‘Good luck,’ I said and what I did not say was: Better luck to the rasikas.
‘I was at your concert yesterday.’
‘Oh! Did you attend? How did you like it?’ I gave long pause. Perhaps he understood that I did not want to be rude to him.
‘You know it was only my second concert. Voice is yet to settle down fully. It should get better in the coming days.’
‘Are you taking enough precautions with what you eat and where you eat?’
‘Yes, to some extent. I am consuming plenty of ayurvedic medicines. I should be fine.’
The fact is he struggled to reach even the ‘Sa’ in the mel sthayi. He hardly ventured beyond. Would he really get through the season, I wondered.
‘You see the unseasonal rain is causing havoc. Madras is so polluted that a light drizzle is enough to cause a big damage to the voice’.
‘You are building up nicely,’ I said. Whether he understood my sarcasm or not, I was not sure!
‘You see, even the cool cricket captain is in hot waters demanding doctored pitches’.
‘Can you do something similar? Ask for external help?’
‘That’s a 22 yards cricket pitch. This is a 22 mm vocal pitch. Gallons of hot water and strips of medicines give some relief, but they cannot alter the true nature of the voice’.
‘Underprepared cricket pitches are very helpful according to Dhoni. Can’t you try something like that?’
‘What do you mean by that?’
‘Maybe you should reduce your practice sessions’, I said hesitantly.
‘When I have 15 concerts to perform, do you think I have time for practice?’
That might be the reason, I thought. Like an out of form batsman struggling to find his timing, musicians without practice find it hard to find their range. ‘Maybe there is a solution to your pitch problem’, I said.
‘Any new system of medicine?’ he asked eagerly.
‘Musicians, these days, are techno-savvy. Is it not possible to outsource the pitch?’ I said, seriously, without making eye contact.
He got my message and said apologetically, ‘You see we do our best. It is our sincere intention to give a quality concert each time we ascend the stage’.
I said, ‘I am Sorry. I did not mean to hurt you. I promise you, I will attend your concerts as much as I can,’ and took leave of him.
For his sake and for the sake of rasikas, I hope he finds his voice range before the end of the music season like Dhoni who hoped (in vain) to find a square turner before the end of the Test series against England.
More to the point, I hope it will not be as painful for rasikas as it is for cricket fans watching Tendulkar bat.