Vathapi Ganapathim Bhajeham’, crooned the songster in the age-old Hamsadhwani Ragam and the audience sat enrapt. Just when they were paying respect to Ganesha in their minds during the ‘Gurusthuthi’, came Yesuvin naamam madhuram mahiyil (The name of Jesus is sweet) taking them by surprise.
Vazhamuttam B Chandrababu’s concerts do not stick to the four walls of ‘Carnatic Music’ rules, instead in his resolve to bring religious harmony in the art form, he has been penning and composing Kirtanas based on Christian and Muslim beliefs. The ragas, which sound and feel ‘Carnatic’ have nothing to do with the age-old ragas, except, the tunes. Instead, they are entirely designed by Chandrababu himself.
This musician, who has a ‘ganabhooshanam’ and ‘ganapeedam’ from the Music College, has been studying music for the past 25 years. It was during his student days at the Music College that he took the decision to bring some changes in the Hindu-oriented ‘Carnatic music’. His ‘guru’, late Padma Shri Neyyattinkara Vasudevan, who has conducted many a Christian concert at different venues, was the inspiration behind this endeavour.
“I have always noticed the disinclination of the non-Hindus while learning Kirtanas pertaining to Hindu beliefs. While I was a music teacher at the St Joseph’s School, I started writing Kirtanas based on Christian beliefs. When I taught them at the school both teachers and the students enjoyed them,” says Chandrababu. Chandrababu’s first concert of Christian Ragas was conducted at St Nicholas Church around five years back, with the help of the school’s teachers. Since then, he has been composing Ragas with Christian and Muslim imageries.
“I had a Malayalam Quran during those times and started reading and understanding it. Then I wrote and composed some songs citing it. When a Muslim family hears their children singing Rabbe Rasoole instead of Mahaganapathe it brings them extra joy. Thus more of them will be willing to learn Carnatic music,” says Chandrababu, whose strong inclination towards the principles of Sreenarayana Guru ‘Oru Jathi oru matham oru daivam manushyanu’ (One caste, one religion, one god for human beings), comes across in his ‘Kirtanas’.
Music has no religions or barriers so Chandrababu, who is currently learning music under S Ratnakaran, strives to make a difference in our society with his ‘Carnatic’ compositions. —Express Features