BENGALURU : Work hours = screen time, after hours = screen time. While the pandemic may have brought families closer with work from home being the norm, classical musician Manasi Prasad wonders whether the pandemic has actually improved communication levels.
In her new single, Maathada Baaradeno (Why don’t you speak with me), which released on Saturday, Prasad has turned an old javali (love song) sung first by Bangalore Nagarathnamma, a famous devadasi musician of early 1900s, and set it to a modern context to make it more relevant to contemporary times.
It was released on her YouTube channel. “This is an artistic response to the situation, and has a video accompaniment which is a representation of how husbands and wives are spending time together in lockdown, but questions whether they are really communicating, or are just involved in their own screens,” says Prasad, who is also the director of Indian Music Experience (IME), an interactive music museum.
While many people associate classical music with devotion and spirituality, Prasad is trying to look at it in a different way to make it more relevant to contemporary times. “While quality family time was a thing pre-pandemic, that has now been replaced with social media and Netflix distractions,” she says.
While Prasad has done the vocals, the accompaniment on keyboard is by Shadrach Solomon. Recorded at her home studio in East Bengaluru, which was set up recently, Prasad crafted a story line, and shot and recorded it in the last two months. The main challenge was shooting the video, which required them to be sans masks. This resulted in not many close ups as part of the video. “We need to adapt to the circumstances and do whatever we can,” she says.
The lockdown has been an “absolute disaster” for the artistic community, but a few live concerts here are signs of green shoots. “Classical music is created in the moment. It’s not the same as starting into a screen, and exploring a raga differently,” says Prasad.
She quickly adds that, on the contrary, this has helped reach out to newer audiences. Having been working on reviving the compositions of maestro T Chowdiah, she is also preparing for an online concert organised by a mid-western classical music organisation in the USA. “Even if I had travelled to the US for a live performance, it’s usually to the coast or West. So in a way, these boundaries are being broken,” she says.