Of The First Water

It’s that time of the year when in my part of the world (at least) most people get a pain in the neck. The head tilts back frequently looking up at the sky but as the song goes, ‘look up in vain, heavy cloud but no rain’. There are a million songs and more written about rain but there are two that are in heavy rotation on my playlist right now in schizophrenic tandem – such is the diammetrically variant mood expressed in them.

The first of these is the poignant ‘Pyaasi’ by Swarathma featuring Shubha Mudgal. Swarathma draws heavily from Indian folk influences to create its own special sound. ‘Pyaasi’ is the voice of water, of the river –  a tired voice with a fervent plea for life. A river which itself is in constant thirst quenching that of those it feeds, choked with ash, dammed and bent. The album version of this song is not graced with Shubha Mudgal’s voice. The band later worked with her to incorporate her part and then the accompanying video. The song is expressed beautifully in the video with its stark contrast of blue pool and parched land, of plenty and paucity.

Shubha Mudgal’s resonant, unusually deep voice lived in the relatively obscure realms of Indian classical/semi-classical form of music. That is until ‘Ab Ke Sawan’, that joyous ode to rain. The first flush of the monsoon monsoon that breaks the tyranny of heat and humidity has always been a trigger for a frantic rush out of homes, much dancing on the streets, all round merriness – it even gets dour stock analysts smiling (for a very different reason perhaps). Later, of course, it exerts its own masterful and heavy-handed domination and the lyric turns to ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss’. But the early monsoon days are about this – unfettered joy. I only wish the video resolution was better.

4 Thoughts

  1. Shubha Mudgal’s voice has such a special, almost ethereal quality about it. Very special. Whispers of exotic and balmy nights under the stars to me… even hough it may be about rain. :o)


    1. I’m glad you like it. She comes from a ‘non-musical’ family in that there’s no history of anyone before her being a performer, which is unusual in the Indian classical music field. From various interviews that I’ve read and heard, her writing and lecture demonstrations, she comes through as an intelligent, open-minded and articulate ambassador for music.


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