Created by OnePlusYou

About Blog

Here we share experiences, discoveries, research and tidbits of our journey in staging a sensitive play "Surya ki antim kiran se surya ki pehli kiran tak" by Surendra Verma. This is Naatak's 30th production

Naatak is a San Francisco Bay Area-based theater group dedicated to producing creative and thought-provoking plays. Since its founding in 1995 by students at UC Berkeley and Stanford, Naatak has staged 29 productions in English, Hindi and Tamil. For more information, visit

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Surya Ki's music

When our director said she wants Hindustani Classical Music to portray emotions of 'Surya ki', I knew I had got myself into a herculean task. Surya Ki is intense. And this is a simplistic description of the play. Surendra Vermaji, the playwright, has amazed us by weaving layers of emotions into the script. It was evident, for music to bring out these emotions, only Raagas could do the magic. But the question was which ones?

Raagas are many. Each Raaga is time bound and has a mood; it evokes the mood best, when sung at the allotted time. Surya Ki progresses from Surya ki antim kiran (in music timings: din ka antim prahar) to Surya ki pehli kiran (din ka pratham prahar) so we did not need to consider Raagas sung in the other prahar of the day! While it seemed the search list was reduced by half, the long list of night Raagas explained why most music concerts happen in the evening or night!

Raagas are generally differentiated into three types - chanchal, shaant and gambhir. Surya Ki is deep and intense and it intuitively seems that gambhir Raagas would be the choice to make. However, Surya Ki's varied emotions should not be restricted to one type. There are moments of varied intensity in the play such as Okkak's agony or Sheelvati's light romantic moments with Pratosh.

So, the search continued. The play has three distinct emotions as they progress in the night - agony, romance and unfulfilled bliss. For agony there could be Malkauns with sadness, Shankara which has the quality of anger or Darbari - a deep, grave midnight Raaga. Romance could be Brindavani Sarang with joy, Bageshree and Sohni with longing, Darbari with erogenous feel, Chayanat or Jai Jaiwanti with fulfillment or Rageshree with celebration. Unfulfilled bliss in the morning could be Deskar, Vibhas, Bhairav or Lalit in their increasing levels of intensity, and ranging from being happy and thoughtful to being pensive. The best part of Hindustani Classical Music is that Raagas can overlap different emotions.

The play opens with Raaga Puriya Dhanashree, an evening passionate Raaga. It has anger as well as compassion set in it. This built in discomfort of varied emotions is brought by the combination of komal Rishabh, teevra Madhyam, komal Dhaivat and shuddha Nishad. The other choices of Raagas have been based on those belonging to the same (or similar) Thaats. (Thaat is the classification of Raaga. Various Raagas in one Thaat seem to belong to one family as they have similar notes (swar). Their sounds have similarity to certain extent, though their emotions may vary.)

So much for Surya Ki's music journey. Come with an ear to discover various moods of the play!

(Decision making involved brainstorming with Sharvari, Abhishek, Vinita, my music teacher in India, Lalita (our tabla player) and her friend, Harshada, as well as all dancers - Archana, Dhara, Juhi, Mahncy and Sowmya).

No comments:

Post a Comment