If you have ever travelled to Rajasthan and heard the Manganiyars sing, their beautiful and bold voices would have remained with you much past their performance. The Manganiyars are the descendants of the Rajputs and were renowned musicians of the Muslim court. Their songs have been passed on from generation to generation as a form of oral history of the Thar Desert. They sing in Marwadi and Sindhi about Alexander The Great, local maharajas and past battles in the region. The instruments commonly used are the khamaicha, which falls in the bowed category and the hand percussion instruments khartal and dholak.
In 2009, theatre director Roysten Abel had staged a theatrical concert, The Manganiyar Seduction, featuring over 40 Manganiyar folk musicians from Rajasthan. Seated across 36 red-curtained cubicles on four different levels, they will be rendering unique sounds of traditional Indian music using instruments like kamaicha, khartaal, dholak, sarangi, double flute, etc.The set design was partly inspired by the Hawa Mahal in Jaipur and partly by the red-light district of Amsterdam.
It became a huge hit and travelled across the globe. An alumnus of the National School of Drama, New Delhi, Abel grew up in Palakkad, Kerala, and studied in Udhagamandalam (Ooty) and Bengaluru. He first made a mark as a director with Othello: A Play In Black And White in 1999. Subsequent plays included Perfect Evening, an adaptation of Girish Karnad’s ‘Flowers’; The Manganiyar Seduction; and The Kitchen, which had 12 mizhavu drummers from Kerala.
The Manganiyar Seduction has been travelling to various venues since its inception. This time around it will be showcased in namma Chennai. Just head to Phoenix MarketCity on January 21 and watch spectacular musical journey which brings out an unexpected culmination of folk music and visual appeal.