Meditational music and dance enthrals

Ratna Venkat – 

The ‘14th Auckland Mehfil,’ held on Saturday, February 18 at the Blockhouse Bay Boat Club (Blockhouse Bay, Auckland) promised its readers that it would be an exquisite evening of Jugalbandi and Fusion for the audience and the artistes.

It kept up its word.

Tabla Beat Science

The annual event, organised regularly by Chinmaya Dunster and his team began with ‘Tabla Beat Science,’ a group headed by Basant Madhur, Principal of the Auckland-based ‘Sargam School of Indian Music’ and his students, Aman Reddy, Akhilesh Madhur, Prashant Kumar and Shamal Lal.

They were supported by Deepak Madhur on the Harmonium.

The group demonstrated traditional Tabla compositions such as ‘Kaydas,’ ‘Tukdas’ and ‘Relas.’ ‘Sawal-Jawab’ (Call and Response sessions between the players) captivated the audience and drew wide applause.

Shastro and Chinmaya

The next performance by Shastro Rodella on Bansuri Flute and Chinmaya Dunster on Sarod and Western Guitar was described as ‘meditational music,’ in which the audience was told to relax and experience Nature’s tranquillity emitting from the sounds of Flute and Sarod.

They played ‘Alaap’ and ‘Jor’ in ‘Kafi Thaat,’ typical to the Hindustani classical music tradition.

The duo presented two original compositions on the Flute and Guitar, using Western chord structures under Hindustani musical notes; first in ‘Raag Bilaval’ and the second in ‘Raag Bhairavi.’

Mr Madhur joined them on the Tabla towards a soothing melodic finish.

Sargam Fusion

The last section of the programme presented the ‘Sargam Fusion’ band, with each performance well-balanced among classical, semi-classical and modern genres.

The ensemble comprised Ashish Ramakrishnan on Male Vocal, Ahi Karunaharan on Keyboards, Basant Madhur on Tabla, Joy Kavya Ravela on Female Vocal, Rajiv Gounder on Octopad, Ratna Venkat on Dance and Rob Mita on Bass Guitar.

Among the highlights of the band’s performance was the opening ‘Krishna nee begane,’ ‘Albela Sajan,’ (both sung by Ashish Ramakrishnan) and ‘See me bloom,’ an original composition rendered by Ms Ravela as a tribute to her late grandmother. This writer performed Kathak for ‘Albela Sajan’ and a fusion dance for ‘See me bloom.’

‘Tu jaane na’ followed by ‘Time to say goodbye,’ a soulful blend of Sufi and Opera, was superbly performed by Mr Ramakrishnan which indicated the finale of the Mehfil.

The audience though, not yet ready to return home, asked for an encore which led them to dance to the band’s medley of popular songs.

“Meditation to Celebration,” was one viewer’s response that incidentally summed up what most people experienced at the ‘14th Auckland Mehfil.’


  1. Ratna Venkat dancing to the music of Sargam Fusion and the voice of Ashish Ramakrishnan
  2. Shastro and Chinmaya on Bansuri Flute and Sarod
  3. Tabla performance by Aman Reddy, Basant Madhur, Shamal Lal and Akhilesh Madhur

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