Sunday Long Reads: Legacy of Pt Shivkumar Sharma, Pakistani dancer Bharatanatyam Sheema Kermani, and more


The story of Hindustani music is full of examples of experimentation that have shaped its course. These experiments took place in the field of performance practice, pedagogy, modes of dissemination and several other fields. However, there is enough evidence to prove that musical experiments were not always encouraged, and sometimes even ridiculed when they found success. Indeed, even today, many aficionados of Hindustani music, quick to praise the diversity of the repertoire and the plurality of genres, forms, instruments and styles, nourish deep prejudices which lead to useless comparisons between these elements: oppose the vocal to the instrumental, the Dhrupad to the Khayal, Dhrupad and Khayal against Thumri, rudra veena and surbahar against sitar and sarod, or these instruments against harmonium and santoor, all melodic instruments against percussion instruments – the list is long.

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When Pasoori dancer Sheema Kermani used the sari and dance to challenge the Zia regime in Pakistan

Kathak recital by Sheema Kermani. (Photo credit: Sheema Kermani)

In Pasoori (i.e. conflict), Coke Studio’s recent Technicolor music video that links India and Pakistan over its Punjabi lyrics and heart-pounding beat, features a dancer, in a large black bindi and a temple border mustard saree. It moves back and forth, pivoting gracefully in an old Karachi haveli, to a melodious jugalbandi between Pakistani Ali Sethi and Shae Gill, in the latter’s debut album. Sethi’s lyrics, inspired by the lines Agg laavan teriyaan majbooriyaan naked (set your worries on fire), which he found written on a truck, is layered with interludes on baglama (a long-necked lute used in Ottoman classical music) and electronic drums and octopads. Sethi and Zulfiqar “Xulfi” Jabbar Khan’s composition, which crossed all borders, has become a worldwide reference and has accumulated more than 11 million views on YouTube in the four months since its release.

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‘Conversations With Friends’ feels like a one-on-one with best friends

A photo from Conversation With Friends

have you friends Who are you talking to ? Like, really, really having conversations with? The kind of friends who can sense your emotional temperature at a glance and forgive you even when you’ve been a total jerk? Because that’s deep friendship: strong and nurturing enough to bridge the cracks, or pick up threads where they left off.

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What happens when a tree explodes like a stick of dynamite

Dandelion pod. (Source: WikiCommon)

Most (reasonable) parents can’t wait for the day when their goofy teenagers finally decide to pack up and leave home because they “want to be independent” and live their own lives. Neither do most pet parents. Once the puppy or cat can fend for itself, it is kicked out of its parent’s territory. This is especially true for boys who can become obnoxious and pose a leadership challenge to their fathers. Certainly, in some animals – like the elephants – girls stay with their mothers even when they are mature, but go out with traveling buddies when the need arises. It’s easy for animals (and us) to walk away – we walk away. But how to do it plant parents get rid of their often hundreds if not thousands of young people who like them are stuck in the same place forever? They have to, because some plant parents won’t allow their offspring to mature if they stay near them – like parents who stay in helicopter mode all their lives. And sometimes they literally have to kick ass to get rid of their young pantyhose. So how do these seeds go away?

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