After enthralling Chennai music lovers in the monsoon rendezvous with ‘Barkha Ritu’, Banyan Tree Events will be back in the city with the much-awaited ‘Ruhaniyat’ and a new event, ‘Uttarayan’ that will bring Hindustani music shows to Chennai early next year. City Express catches up with the husband and wife duo Mahesh Babu and Nandini Mahesh that has unearthed talent from the nook and cranny of the country.
It all began almost two decades ago with the aim of establishing a platform between corporates and performing arts. So, when Banyan Tree Events’ Mahesh Babu says that there is a need for the corporates to step in that role, you know exactly where he is coming from. “Earlier it was the kings who used to nurture performance arts. Today, the corporates need to do that,” he says.
From the baul singers of Bengal to the mystic sufi singers of the remotest villages in India, the duo has brought to the fore a talent treasure that epitomises the bottomless resource of musical geniuses in a country like India. With close to eight events that explore the varied genre of music—classical and folk—they are conceptualised, designed and presented in the most novel way. The events that travel to eight cities include Ruhaniyat (sufi and mystic music festival), Barkha Ritu (monsoon music show), Khusrau-Kabir, The Splendor of Masters (maestros from around the world) and Dakshinayan (festival of Carnatic music in the North and West India).
Ruhaniyat has had eight editions in Chennai so far and held in an open air theatre, it is one of the most sought after programmes that draws nearly 1,400 to 1,500 people.
Barka Ritu that was held on Wednesday at the Music Academy, featured santoor maestro Pandit Shivkumar Sharma and Carnatic singer Sudha Raghunathan.
Having travelled the length and breadth of the country, Mahesh and his wife take immense pride in saying that they have made popular artistes out of folk musicians. “Take the case of Parvathy Baul who is one of the performers introduced through our show. Today she is a name to reckon with and a much known face in the music circle,” he adds.
Nandini Mahesh says that putting together an idea can take as much as two months. Although she adds, “There are several setbacks and hardships and there are times when things just don’t seem to be working out. But then there is always a turnaround of events to show us that we are on the right track. Even if one in a hundred tells us that the music we bring has made a change, I think, the task has been accomplished.”