Raga Rasa, a music show is set to air on Epictize Media YouTube channel and ETV from January 1, 2022. The first production by Epictize Media, a new production house launched by flautist Nagaraju Talluri and his US-based student-turned-friend and business partner Hari Damera, celebrates musical genres across India while connecting audiences to its roots.
Conceived and conceptualised by Nagaraju’s wife Mani, a singer, Raga Rasa is akin to MTV’s Coke Studio that created a niche platform for non-filmmusic.
Season 1 of Raga Rasa featuring 10 episodes with 40 songs rendered by singers across India was shot recently at Picture Productions in Chennai. Mani says, “Our hunger to delight music lovers drives us to give the format a whole new beat,” adding that the visual elements aim to create a deeper content experience.
With an excitement that is plapable is his voice, Nagaraju says, “The onus is to package traditional songs in such a way that even lay audiences can enjoy them.” Pointing to K Viswanath’s Sankarabharanam and Sagara Sangamam as examples, he says, “Thyagaraja’s kriti Brochevaarevarura has existed for 350 years, but the way it was presented in the movie in Sankarabharanam popularised it even among people with no prior knowledge of classical Carnatic music. Adding contemporary elements in Sagara Sangamam enhanced the appeal of classical dance and made it interesting.”
The production house’s journey took off when Hari produced an SP Balasubramaniam-tribute video by Nagaraju. Mani recollects, “We utilised the the pandemic time to enhance our music knowledge. Nag (Nagaraju) and Hari used to interact daily on compositions and different kinds of music. The duo shares the same values in life and music and decided to collaborate to showcase the country’s rich musical heritage but in a contemporary way to draw the young generation towards Indian classical music.”
With a strict no to film music, Raga Rasa features non-copy right songs including Carnatic fusion, bhajans, folk, ghazals and dohas in Hindi, Sanskrit, Telugu, Kannada and Tamil. “Though we feature compositions by our saints Thyagaraja, Purandara Dasa, Ramadasu, Annamacharya, Kabir and Meera Bai, this is not a devotional or spiritual show. Jazz drums and bass guitar are used to create a modern treatment in orchestration,” says Mani. Citing an example of Aruna Sairam’s rendition of Aigiri Nandini, she adds, “ The song celebrating Durga was presented in a novel way on Coke Studio showing us how innovatively one can present mythological songs.” Nagaraju explains, “When singing chitte swaram (passages of swaras) by Satya Prakash, we have used flute in the background which makes the composition attractive and adds a new flavour.”
Singers participating in the show include Priya Sisters, Satya Prakash, Unni Krishnan, Uttara Unni Krishnan, Chandana Bala Kalyan, Sarath Santosh, Sireesha, Pratibha Singh Baghel. PVNS Rohit, Surya Gayatri and Vaishnavi KV. While the accompanying musicians include: Karthik Devaraj (keyboard), Bhuvanesh (keys), Lalit Talluri (woodwinds), Guberan jazz drums), Manonmani (sarangi), Ganpathi (Indian percussions) and Balasubramanyam (nadaswaram).
The musical arrangement has been done by Nagaraju. “Modernizing the sound doesn’t mean we shock the audience with tunes. Nag has taken care not to go beyond the raga boundaries so that the musical gems by yesteryear composers are not polluted,” points out Mani.
The show starts with Indian music but the production house also has plans to go international and also make a web series.
(Raga Rasa to air on Epictize Media YouTube channel and ETV from January 1, 2022, 12 30 pm onwards)