Sonic Saturday

Listen: A sombre rendition of the usually upbeat Kaharvaa taal, to mirror these sombre times

A ghazal rendition by Begum Akhtar marks the fourth episode of our series on the eight-matra taal.

Kaharvaa, also called Kerva in Maharashtra, is believed by some to be a taal inspired by the gait of the kahaar or the palanquin-bearer. In fact, there is a special song-form called kaharvaa that was originally sung by the kahaars. But examples of this song-form that I have heard are in Dadra, a cycle of six matras or time-units, and not in the eight-matra Kaharvaa that we are discussing in our series on this taal. Perhaps, there are other songs in this category, which are set to Kaharvaa.

Interestingly, kaharvaa or kerba is also a song and dance sequence that has been mentioned in 19th-century sources. For instance, 19th-century commentator K Raghunathji included the kerba as one of the types of dance performances presented in Bombay by professional women performers. Though his description does not give us an idea of the musical form, here is an illustration of what he described as the kerba:

“She puts on a Maratha turban (as worn by sipahis in public offices) or a gold embroidered skull-cap, incluned a little to her left ear, and with her thin small hands imitates the flying of the kite, and her eyes are turned upwards. When performing this part of her dance her tightly knitted drapery shows the form of her round limbs. At times she rolls a part of her dupata, holding one end between her teeth and the other in both hands, the fingers indicating playing on a flute. She does not exactly dance, but revolves in the midst of the audience, and sings with a charming simplicity, which is the supreme effort of these Muhammadan and Hindu women...” 

— K Raghunathji, 'Bombay Dancing Girls', Jas Burgess, The Indian Antiquary: A Journal of Oriental Research, Vol.XIII-1884, reprinted by Swati Publications, Delhi, 1984, p.174

As is evident, thus, there could be many explanations for the choice of nomenclature of this taal, but the fact remains that each of them have contributed to our current understanding of Kaharvaa.

But in the fourth episode of the series on Kaharvaa, I will move away from its conventional sprightly nature. The gloom and anger that surrounds us in the aftermath of the rapes in Kathua and Unnao and the absolutely callous and inhuman behaviour of those defending the perpetrators of these crimes, demands this and more.

I will leave the listeners with a ghazal rendition by Begum Akhtar. Penned by Meer Taqi Meer (1722/23-1810), it is set to an even-paced Kaharvaa played by tabla exponent Mohammad Ahmed Khan.

Play

The text of the ghazal can be found here and a translation is available here.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

A musical remix, a delectable dish and a taxi makeover

What do these three works of art have in common?

What connects Raghav Sachar, Ranveer Brar and Taxi Fabric? On the surface, nothing at all. Sachar is known for his genius musical abilities, Brar a chef loved for demystifying food while the essence of Taxi Fabric goes way beyond its name. All three operate, and thrive, in unconnected domains. Upon looking closer, though, a common thread emerges between their work so far - an unmistakable streak of creativity.

Raghav Sachar is a singer, composer and film scorer who was featured in a National Geographic series, My Brilliant Brain, for his prodigious musical abilities - he can effortlessly switch between male and female vocals and play over 30 musical instruments! His adaptations of old Bollywood songs, shot in a multi-screen format, have been especially well received on the Internet.

Ranveer Brar is a well-known chef who is working to expand the idea of food. He has appeared in culinary shows as diverse as Masterchef India, Great Indian Rasoi, Thank God It’s Fryday and Food Tripping. Brar’s work in food media isn’t merely instructional, he seeks to deep dive into food - to the very science of it and its endless aesthetic possibilities. Brar is also a phenomenal food stylist who approaches food presentation as no less than an art, and himself as no less than a food artiste.

Taxi Fabric is a startup that turns taxi seat covers into canvases for artists. Through Taxi Fabric, artists have found a medium to unleash their creativity and activism onto Mumbai’s roads – the iconic kaali peelis. If you get lucky on a Mumbai street, you may hop into a world of Mumbai’s chawls, surrealist Persian architecture, Chandni Chowk and more in your short taxi ride.

The latest projects from these three creatives have a connection too - the same muse, presented by Flipkart. The muse inspired Raghav Sachar to recreate one of his own songs ‘Baahon Mein Tu Aaja’. Watch his new version of the song below.

Chef Ranveer Brar, meanwhile, dipped into his food styling instinct to create a beautiful dish. You can watch his piece of culinary art below.

Taxi Fabric brought on board Arun Chanchal, a graphic designer who describes his aesthetic as geometric surrealism. Watch the stunning result of their collaboration below.

Flipkart revealed the #ExtraordinaryBeauty that launched a musical remix, a delectable dish and a taxi makeover on 20th July. Watch the reveal below.

Honor 9N is the latest in Honor’s range of beautiful, yet highly functional, phones. There’s a lot that makes Honor 9N a worthy muse - it boasts 2.5D curved glass design with 12-layer nano coating process. It, moreover, offers full-screen display thanks to its notch design. Honor 9N will be launched in India as a Flipkart exclusive on 24th July, 2018. To know more about the phone, click here. Stay tuned for the launch, here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Flipkart and not by the Scroll editorial team.