Bengaluru Beats: The Rhythm of Innovation at Mahindra’s Percussive Bonanza

As Bangalore’s weather bristled with an unusual energy, the slow, hypnotic beats emanating from the Mahindra Percussion Festival’s highlight reel from last year set the stage for what’s to come. The montage featured industry stalwarts, each known for their mastery over percussive instruments—drum virtuoso A Sivamani, kanjira maestro V Selvaganesh, and the remarkably talented bassist Mohini Dey, pouring sweat and soul onto the stage. This rare gathering sparked a sea of movement among the bustling crowd, echoing the rhythms that demanded attention, foretelling the excitement brewing for the festival’s upcoming bigger and bolder second edition.

The festival is set to reconvene at the esteemed Prestige Srihari Khoday Centre for Performing Arts in Bengaluru, expanded into a two-day rhythm extravaganza slated for March 23 and 24. This year’s program holds a special focus on young talent, promising a flood of musical expression encompassing a vibrant mix of rap, dance, and a plethora of instruments.

Legendary percussionists like Vikku Vinayakram and his enchanting ghatam symphony, and Taufiq Qureshi with his band Surya, will take the center stage. They will share the limelight with the nascent yet explosive new sounds of the contemporary music scene.

Included among these is mridangam prodigy Charu Hariharan who, along with a 25-member ensemble, aims to blend the unique sounds of the Jenu Kuruba community, indigenous to the border towns of Kerala and Karnataka, with the folk tunes of group Kozhikode Nanthalakootam. Hariharan, who has been traversing between Kozhikode and Perambra, admits that many of the festival’s performers are new to the format of arrangement, despite their confident grasp of their own compositions. The integration of unconventional elements like plastic drums and antenna dishes by the Jenu Kuruba artists is set to add a captivating texture to the event’s music.

As an artist eager to draw from the energetic exchange with the audience, Hariharan acknowledges the unscripted nature of the crowd’s synergy, emphasizing its integral role in elevating the performance. The palpable energy, akin to the raw power of contemporary musicians that VG Jairam, founder of Hyperlink and force behind the festival’s organization, speaks of, is at the heart of this year’s festival.

Jay Shah, vice president of cultural outreach for the Mahindra Group, alludes to the timeless and universal language of percussion, noting its ability to catalyze connections by resonating with the sound of civilizations past and present. Thus, the festival’s lineup also boasts an intriguing assortment of local and international acts.

The festival will open with performances from the Charu Hariharan quartet, and Vikku Vinayakram’s Ghatam Symphony, featuring the Grammy-award winner V Selvaganesh, V Umashankar, and Swaminathan Selvaganesh. The final act of the inaugural day promises an enthralling Swarathma Percussive Experience alongside the likes of Thavil Raja and Beat Gurus.

The second day promises equal excitement with “Rhythms of India,” a fusion of classical and contemporary sounds by artists such as Darshan Doshi, Varijashree Venugopal, BC Manjunath, and Praveen Rao. The narrative will continue with the performance “Ashtanayika,” articulating the stories of eight heroine archetypes through a blend of classical Indian music, modern jazz, Bharatanatyam, and rap. The culmination of these events leads to Taufiq Qureshi’s band Surya, which is set to send the festival off on a resounding high note.

The Mahindra Percussion Festival, presented by The Hindu, finds its co-sponsors in Mahindra Finance, Paul John Visitor Centre, and Carlsberg Smooth Soda. Hyperlink Brand Solutions proudly promotes and produces the event, with tickets readily available on The stage is set, and Bengaluru’s heart is ready to beat in unison with the reverberating pulse of the Mahindra Percussion Festival.

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