Pramod Shankar, Loreto Maimoni and Bar Hunka Leonard. (Nagesh Polali/EPS)
When the three wheels of The Rickshaw Muse get rolling, verses melt into vocals and classical guitar. The three-piece poetry performance group attempts to create a new genre, where poetry, performance, vocals blend to give verse a different sound. Its members Pramod Shankar, Loreto Maimoni and Bar Hunka Leonard, make up the three wheels of The Rickshaw Muse. They recently performed Love Notes: A Journey through poetry and music, at Atta Galatta, a local bookstore at Koramangala in Bangalore.
The trio took the audience through seven stages or compartments of love, namely, admiration, passion, familiarity, conflicts and separation, apologies, reconnecting, and finally remembering and reminiscing. Each segment was a combination of poetry sung against the delicate strains of classical guitar, as well as a few popular Bollywood and Western songs. Loreto owned the first segment Admiration. As she said softly the lines, “I could be the breath that you catch between your words,” a sigh collectively escaped from the audience. Leonard manages to underscore every word with strains from his guitar, never swallowing the words but never too absent either.
Passion, another segment began with Loreto singing a song from Chalte Chalte, perfectly capturing the essence of passion curbed. And it’s not all sweet talk. There was real rage waiting to find release, as Loreto read Tonight, “I will cup your rib cage / With unexplained explanations / Around your hips / Wrap my intolerable excuses/ And with my fanatic resolve / Heap live coals between / Those sacred spaces / Of your being / Tonight I will not make love to you.” Familiarity saw a rendition of the John Denver classic, Annie’s Song, and this time the audience joined in as well, shifting the atmosphere up another notch. “How many of you have ever fallen in love with a stranger?” asked Loreto.
The audience seemed reluctant and a couple of hands went up quite slowly, as if caught by a tricky question “...There’s something so adventurous about it, don’t you think?” urged Pramod, trying to get the audience to respond and a few murmurs suddenly fill the room. According to Pramod, all stories revolve around two major themes —‘two people (strangers) falling in love’ and ‘a stranger comes to town’. Conflicts and separation, the longest segment of the evening, saw Pramod take full control. In No Thanks he makes a strong impact with lines, “Come to me with all the restraint /of the rain racing to wet the earth/ If you don’t feel like it/ please, vanish now...” Loreto enthralled the audience with another Bollywood favourite from the film Jewel Thief, “Rulaake gaya sapna mera”.
Conflict always leads to apologies, from one party more than the other, in most cases. The audience’s favourite was Loreto’s short verse, Saying Goodbye to a Writer, “How easily you pick it up and leave...”
Reconnecting began with Pramod and Lolo’s companion piece Listen. The twin verses gave interesting takes on a single theme, lending the reading added depth. From reconnecting they quickly shifted to Remembering and Reminiscing, and this time Leonard began the segment with a solo rendition of Travelling Light, sung simply with the classical guitar accompaniment. This segment also saw a companion piece performance by Loreto and Pramod titled In Absentia. The evening ended with Loreto’s reading of For My Valentine, where she throws questions that don’t have answers, at a lover who is probably not listening.
The musical accompaniment was the highlight of the evening. It heightened the mood “giving poetry wings,” as Loreto liked to put it. “I think poetry sometimes becomes too heavy for the audience. It’s difficult for them to get into the right mood immediately. Music sets the stage and makes it easier for them to connect,” explained Leonard.
Love Notes was a tribute to love in all its delightfully varied glory. There were no mincing of words, there was no holding back. This was a night that truly belonged to love: a love for words, a love for life.