Wednesday, August 11, 2010

3RD I—Battle of the Bollywood Maestros: R.D. Burman vs A.R. Rahman

As part of their 2010 Speaker Series (made possible, in part, through a grant from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences), 3rd i offers a presentation—"Battle of the Bollywood Maestros"—illustrated with film clips, by Robin Sukhadia who will emcee an evening of music and mayhem, pitting two Bollywood giants, R.D. Burman (of Sholay fame) and A.R. Rahman (of Slumdog Millionaire fame), against each other in a musical face-off!

As synopsized at 3rd i's website, "R.D. Burman revolutionized the sound of Bollywood in the '60s and '70s, bringing a world of influences to Hindi film music. The trifecta of R.D. Burman, Asha Bhonsle (playback singer) and Helen (dancer/actress) churned out hit after hit with songs like "O Haseena Zulfonwali" from Teesri Manzil (1966), "Piya Tu Ab To Aaja" from Caravan (1971), and "Mehbooba" from Sholay (1975), which captured the simmering sexuality of the times.

A.R. Rahman began his career in the Tamil film industry with Mani Ratnam's Roja (1992), and quickly rose to become the leading music composer in Bollywood in the 90s. With training in multiple classical music traditions (Carnatic, Hindustani and Western), Rahman has brought Bollywood music to the world stage, and composed music for Bombay Dreams, an Andrew Lloyd Weber musical, and Slumdog Millionaire (2008), which won him an Academy Award®."

Each composer will be represented by five songs from their vast catalog for the musical showdown. This is where 3rd i seeks
audience participation! Audience members will get to vote on each song (ballots will be provided), and a running tally of votes will be maintained throughout the evening. The Maestro with the most number of votes at the end of the evening will ascend to the status of Bollywood Legend!

ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Recently completing a Master in Fine Arts at the California Institute of the Arts, Robin Sukhadia has been studying tabla under Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri at the California Institute of the Arts and the Ali Akbar College of Music in San Rafael, California for the past eight years. His special focus on the musical traditions and rhythms of south Asia informs his approach to musical arrangement and composition on a wide range of concert, film, and album productions. For the past seven years, Robin has traveled internationally on behalf of Project Ahimsa, an organization committed to empowering impoverished youth through music education. He performs and teaches extensively, in both classical and contemporary contexts, and has developed innovative music education programs at the Weill Institute at Carnegie Hall, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the de Young Museum in San Francisco, the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, the Machine Project in Los Angeles and the Sangati Center in San Francisco. In 2010, Robin was awarded a Fulbright Senior Research Award to expand his work with music education in India.

When: Sunday, August 15, 2010 @ 5:00pm
Where: Artists' Television Access, 992 Valencia St, SF; Tickets: $8-$10

08/15/10 UPDATE: I've just come home from this thoroughly enjoyable event where R.D. Burman won out over A.R. Rahman by a vote of 22 to 21. Robin Sukhadia guided his audience on an informative and entertaining musical journey and—in an admirable twist on life imitating art—Sukhadia's "Battle of the Bollywood Maestros" was a striking example of life imitating social networking. Using commentary from the event's Facebook page within his power point presentation, the audience was peppered with individuals who had commented on Facebook and were allowed to expand their thoughts with those present. Such interactivity is how 3rd i is successfully building its audience/community and Sukhadia is to be commended for being unafraid to share the stage. Let alone that the Facebook commentary includes choice YouTube music clips.

Myself, I was bowled over by the unexpected appearance of Helen (aka Anuj Vaidya in drag) dancing to "Piya Tu Ab To Aaja" from Caravan, one of her most popular songs! Vaidya's impersonations of Helen are becoming the stuff of San Francisco legend!

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