Bismillahi- Arabic Song

Ramesh Narayan records Arabic song in Kuwait for
his new film

Renowned Indian music director Pandit Ramesh Narayan arrived in Kuwait on Tuesday to record an Arabic song for the new movie ‘Alif’ that tells the story of three generations of Muslim women in India. In the film Narayan renders ‘Bismillahi Innana, Narju Luthfa Rabbana’, a song composed by the maestro himself in Arabic style and purity. “This song may be a good example of Indo- Arab musical harmony

No doubt, there are a lot of similarities between Indian and Arabic music and some subtle nuances of Hindustani ragas are present in Arabic music as well,” said Pandit Ramesh Narayan in an interview with Kuwait Times. “Though the song is based on a popular Hindustani raga ‘Mishra Bhairava,’ I chose to record it in Kuwait to give the song an original Arabic flavor. “‘Bhairava’ is an international scale and it is present even in the Arab tradition. A few Kuwaiti artists are collaborating with me; my voice recording and final mix were done in a Kuwait studio to ensure the correct slang and Arab flavor”, Narayan said.
The Arabic influence on Indian music has been quite evident ever since the Mughal era although the structure and ragas always remained quintessentially Indian. ‘Alif’, directed by N K Muhammed Koya features Kalabhavan Mani and Lena in the lead roles. The song sequence depicts the penultimate scene in the movie in which the central female character, played by Lena, submits to the Almighty Allah. The other song in ‘Alif’ is sung by Narayan’s daughter Madhushree.

Today, Ramesh Narayan is a resounding name in the Hindustani music circle. Although born into a family of Carnatic musicians, it was in Hindustani music that Narayan found his passion, and his foray into Hindustani music began under the tutelage of maestro Pandit Jasraj of the ‘Mewati Gharana’. Equally dexterous with the sitar, he was the fond disciple of Satchidananda Phadke – himself a well-known disciple of the maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar. After having completed his ‘Visharad’ course in Hindustani vocal from the renowned Akhil Bharatiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, his deep passion for the style led him to the doyen Padma Bhushan Pt Jasraj. “I learned music under several gurus until I came across Pandit Jasraj in 1983. It was a milestone in my life.

When I became his disciple, my only intention was to know more about music, not to become a Hindustani singer,” he said. It was under Pandit Jasraj that Narayan learnt the subtleties and the finer nuances of the riveting ‘Mewati Gharana’ tradition. Powerfully evocative, his ‘bandishes’ (songs) are creatively charged explorations of the fine aesthetics of classical music. Drawing rich from the tradition of his guru, Pandit Narayan can effortlessly meander through the nuances of a lofty ‘khayal’ or render a passionately poignant ‘bhajan’. “Music is not to be taught nor learnt, rather it is to be imbibed and acquired from the guru,” he said quoting the examples of great masters such as Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Mian Tansen, Thyagaraja Bagavathar, and Dakhinamoorthy Swamy.

with a momentous 30-hour concert, sung without a break-given as a tribute to his late father Narayana Bhagavathar and to Pandit Motiram – an exponent of the Mewati gharana, Narayan secured a place for himself in the Guinness Book of World Records. In another feat, he sang for 36 hours ceaselessly and found an entry in the Limca Book of World Records. Explaining the rationale behind the nonstop concert, Narayan said: “It was not to set records. It was a dedication to my guru. The attempt is to complete a cycle of different time spheres representing different ragas. When I render a raga, I derive vital energy because of the power of music. It gives me inexplicable experiences and feelings,”

Chasing the monsoon Reminiscing about one of his favorite ragas-the ‘Malhar’-Narayan said he could narrate several exciting experiences of rendering the raga. In Kochi, people organized a concert some ten years ago titled, ‘Chasing the Monsoon’ in order to ‘invoke the rain gods’. “When organizers approached me I told them that I would sing a raga of rain although I wasn’t sure it would really rain. I rendered a song in ‘Dhulia malhar,’ one of the fifty varieties of malhars. And unbelievably it started pouring down heavily,” he recalled. He also recollected how it rained when he rendered the ‘miya malhar’ raga during a concert in Abu Dhabi. “It was an open air theatre and it started raining after 15-20 minutes of singing.” Ramesh Narayan is currently active with live concerts and musical shows.

He is also busy with some movies. Post-production work is currently progressing for films ‘Ottamandaram’, ‘White Boys,’ and ‘Ennum Ninte Moytheen’. Another film ‘Paattukaaran,’ (The Singer), narrates the life story of musical legend Kozhikod Abdulkhader. Ramesh Narayan will present a ‘jugalbandhi’ of vocal and flute (fusion music) as part of a Gulf tour in partnership with well-known flautist Ronu Majumdar in Bahrain and Kuwait on September 26 and 27 respectively.

By Sajeev K Peter

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Scoring a winner

Ramesh Narayan, winner of the Kerala State Film Award
for the best music director, tells that he gives his best
to each number he composes.

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Ramesh Narayan is not, by any stretch of imagination, the most prolific of composers in Malayalam cinema. But, he is one of the few who are capable of coming up with melodic numbers at a time when such compositions are becoming increasingly hard to be heard in Malayalam films. Right from his maiden composition, for Garshom, Ramesh has been able to make music that could stand out. The other day his music received the recognitiona it richly deserved, as he won the State Film Award for his composition, ‘Adithya kiranangal…’, for the film White Boys. The song also fetched K. J. Yesudas his 27th State Award for the best playback singer.

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