Swaraag Stories

Folk wave at the heritage city of Rajasthan

July 2018
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Whether it is the site of the ice cream vendors or the flock of pigeons, whoever has been to this marvel of the Indian history has some lifelong memories associated.

Albert Hall was founded in the year 1876. This museum boasts of the history of Jaipur with its splendour appearance. Located just in front of the Ram Niwas Garden, Albert Hall has always been an item on the traveller’s checklist.

In 2017, Albert Hall turned to spring for the 131st time. This occasion called for a celebration; a celebration of the generations that have come here over time to awe at the history of our people. In front of the museum - the yesterday’s keeper - we wanted to play the tunes of our culture and commemorate our past and celebrate our present.

We took the first initiative and proposed our idea to the superintendent of the Albert Hall, Mr. Rakesh Cholak. We showed him one of our well received performances in “Kunji Khudaya Kuwa bawdi”. He liked our idea from the very beginning and appreciated our music style so much so that he asked us to meet the Director, Mr. Hridesh Sharma.

Our excitement shot up to the 9th cloud when we learnt that Mr. Hridesh had accepted our request. He granted us the permission to perform on the Foundation Day of our beloved Albert Hall.

There were emotions of high magnitude as we were about to perform in front of our family, our friends and the people who we have grown up with. It was a feeling which gives us goosebumps to this very day. The date and time were set. Swaraag would be live from the Albert Hall at 7:30 PM on the 21st of February, 2017. The word was spreading like fire and we were getting mails and wishes from every nook and corner of the city. The city was buzzing with excitement.

Meanwhile a few days short of the event, we were extremely thrilled in our practice room. It took us approximately 4 hours, to decide on which songs we were going to play that evening.

Here is what happened, Arif, our Sitar player suggested us to go with the genres of Rajasthani and Bollywood. Whereas on the other hand our lead vocalist, Asif wished us to add an equal flavor of Sufi music. In the end, we went with Pratap, his suggestion was to go with the combination of Rajasthani, Sufi and Instrumental music.

Finally, the longest wait ended and the performance day arrived. We reached the venue a few hours early, as the sound check was planned at 2 PM. Our eyes were in total disbelief as a huge audience was already in search of their spots. People of every age were waiting for the musical night to kick in. We saw our childhood years in the kids who were playing with the pigeons. The nostalgia and the thought of playing in the presence of our people evoked a sense of belongingness which was beyond explanation. We hoped, that our music would once again portray our sentiments better than the words we had.
Time flew quickly as Mr. Rakesh took up to the task of inviting the media personnel. It was 4:30 PM, and we received a call from the stage. One by one we started checking our instruments. During the sound check itself the crowd started to match their feet to our music. It was a wonderful feeling; and we responded to the cheers of the spectators. A few of our regular followers had already blocked their seats.

Swaraag Team during Sound Check at Albert Hall Performance
Swaraag Team During Sound Check at Albert Hall Performance

The clock turned to 6 PM with the end of sound tests. Meanwhile, Giriraj, our band manager was on AIR with the renowned RJ Ravindra of our very own 93.5 RED FM.

We used the next ninety minutes to gather our excited nerves to put forth a high on energy performance for everyone to witness. We huddled in for a pep session and exchanged words of praise and motivation.

The team was ready, the stage was set.  As we looked into the crowd, we could see Mr. Hridesh with his family and office colleagues finding their way to their seats. Watching him be a part of our audience was an extremely humbling experience.

Albert Hall Stage Just Before Swaraag Team Performance
Albert Hall Stage Just Before Swaraag Team Performance

Kickstarting the event, we had Asif start with one of the most famous songs of Rajasthan, “Kesariya Balam Padharo Mahare Desh”. Our touch of fusion was very well received by the spectators who could not help but start tapping their feet to our tunes. Looking into the distance we could see that people who did not have a seat did not mind standing anyway.

By the time we turned to play the Rajasthani set of songs we witnessed a flurry of cars getting parked just outside the venue, participating in the concert. Later, we decided to take a chance by playing an instrumental version of our already popular adaptation of the song, “Sanu ek pal chain na awe” and to our astonishment it was more than appreciated by the listeners.  

Adding a dramatic flair to the evening the electricity went off and we were told that there was no scope of getting the generator fixed within the next ten minutes. We were scared because we felt that we might not be able to hold the crowd without the electricity supply. But turning the situation to our advantage, we started playing the saxophone along with the drums. And to our utter disbelief, the people cheered in with only more intensity and echoed the chorus with us.
 Swaraag Performance At Albert Hall 

When the electricity was finally back on, we performed the last song of the beautiful evening. The prize of the evening was the smiles we received, the words of appreciation that were spoken to us by the esteemed Director of the Albert Hall Museum and the tons of people who let us know how much they loved our performance through our page.

That night we really learnt the wonders music can do. To this day we carry with us the heartfelt gratitude we received as it keeps reminding us of why we got into music in the first place.

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