Taking Thumris to new heights | Blog | Sufiscore
Blog Feb 8, 2022

Taking Thumris to new heights

Article by Angie Lemon
Taking Thumris to new heights

Breathing new life into 19th century romantic Indian poems and melodies or “thumris”, INHERITANCE is the new special project from Hindustani star vocalist Pratibha Singh Baghel, composer + violinist Deepak Pandit and the Budapest Symphony Orchestra. Along with extensive accomplishments in Indian musical theater and Bollywood playback singing, Pratibha Singh Baghel excels in the art of classical Hindustani music with a forward-looking, internationally minded modern vein. Pratibha’s vocals glide, rise and land perfectly on INHERITANCE.

 

‘Thumris’ are a unique Indian genre of semi-classical music, that focuses on emotion, love and romance and are associated with dance, dramatic gestures and mild eroticism. ‘Thumri’ comes from the Hindi verb ‘thumakna’ which means to ‘walk with dancing steps so the ankle bells tinkle’. As thumris are passed from generation to generation, so INHERITANCE takes its name with four thumris composed within Indian classical Ragas.

 

Deepak Pandit was born into a Qawwali family, surrounded and inspired by devotional Sufi music for his formative years and is one of India’s leading violinists and composers. Deepak performed with and composed for the late ghazal vocal legend, Jagjit Singh for over twenty years. In considering which thumris to select and arrange for INHERITANCE, Deepak chose ones that would best reflect Pratibha Singh Baghel’s musical vision and her soaring, exquisite singing voice. They have collaborated on musical projects together for over five years as Deepak Pandit says,

 

Before we started working on INHERITANCE, we sat down and studied all the Thumris, how they have been sung by the original singers, how they have emphasized on the words and phrasing… Pratibha’s versatility in both Indian and western classical music and enables makes the leads and improvisations work together naturally and easily. I can compose with a free hand knowing that Pratibha will deliver. Everything is possible because of her versatility as a singer.”

 

Babul Mora is a much-loved Indian thumri based on the morning Raga, Bhairavi that has been passed down from the 19th century thumri written by the last King of Awadh (latter day Uttar Pradesh), Wajid Ali Shah. Wajid Ali Shah was revered as a ruler, poet and patron of Indian dance.  Originally Babul Mora was named ‘Babul Mora Naihar Chhooto Jaye” – “Oh father mine, my home grows further away from me”, as a lament for Wajid’s homeland after he was exiled by the British Raj to Kolkata around the time of the 1857-58 rebellion.  Wajid Ali Shah’s poems have set the standards for thumris for generations.

 

Deepak Pandit carefully adapted, arranged Hamari Atariya (My Balcony) to reflect Pratibha Singh Baghel’s musical vision and her soaring, exquisite singing voice. Along with her extensive accomplishments in Indian musical theater and Bollywood playback singing, Pratibha Singh Baghel has devoted herself to the art of classical Hindustani music in a forward-looking, internationally minded modern vein. The imagery in Hamari Atariya’s couplets is given new life by Pratibha’s interpretation,

 

 

 

 

“Zah-e-qismat ke viraanon mein / Such is my good luck that in this dry wilderness. Barsatein bhi hoti hain / …sometimes the rains come too”

The music for INHERITANCE was composed and produced by Deepak Pandit, co-produced by Gaurav Vaswani and features Prashant Sonagra on tabla, the string tapestries of Tapas Roy as well as Deepak Pandit on violin, the instrument for which he is renowned. Deepak crafted large-scale orchestrations and sent them to the master musicians of the Budapest Symphony Orchestra taking the music of INHERITANCE into a much bigger sonic space.

 

Established in 1945 by the Hungarian State Railways, the renowned Budapest Symphony Orchestra has developed an international reputation with performances at prestigious venues such as the Große Musikvereinssaal in Vienna, the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, the Philharmonie Berlin, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, and the Shanghai Oriental Art Centre. It is led by Daniel Boico and is Hungary’s leading orchestra.

Pratibha Singh Baghel’s previous 6-track release, Bole Naina – also composed by Deepak Pandit – is a collection of Pandit’s original compositions, brought to life by Baghel’s winning voice and featuring the legends Zakir Hussain, Gulzar Sahab and more. A native of Madhya Pradesh state, Pratibha Singh Baghel’s creative versatility has earned her far-reaching Bollywood credits as well as lead roles in the groundbreaking theatrical stage productions Mughul-E-Azam and Umrao Jaan Ada. Pratibha has performed in over 30 countries, gaining a worldly view as she says,

I never want to limit my music to Bollywood and to India. I would like the whole world to listen to my music.”

Pratibha Singh Baghel is comfortably conquering social media with and delighting blossoming audiences on YouTube and Instagram channels. INHERITANCE was recorded and mixed at Seven Heaven Studios in Mumbai and mastered at London’s Abbey Road and features four thumris and radio edits for all the songs.  INHERITANCE releases through the South Asian-focused music media platform and record label, Sufiscore on 14 February, 2022.