Reinterpretation of Frida through Indian classical music

Shefali Saxena Wednesday 20th July 2022 14:48 EDT

Ahmed Kaysher is a poet and the director of this production called Reinterpretation of Frida through Indian classical music that happened at Royal Albert Hall last Wednesday (13 July). He spoke to us about exploring the parallels between Mexican culture and Indian classical music. 



What exactly is hypnotic musical re-interpretation of Frida Kahlo’s paintings?


This is a philosophical way of introducing different interpretations of arts/texts/literature in many different ways as French philosophers Jack Derrida and other post-structural philosophers connotated while reading/re-reading/interpreting/re-interpreting signs and signifiers hidden implicitly in texts or the silence between two adjacent notes in music. Frida's fatally destined life and her world were absolutely melancholic and tragic - the aim of this production was to introduce new meaning and to intensify the emotion of a selection of Frida's  25 paintings with some visceral ragas of  Indian classical music e.g. Kaunsi Kanada, Rag Jog; the ragas that portray lamentation of heart that Frida actually was trying to paint in her works all the way through. 



What does it take to combine various art forms with Indian classical music so that each art form complements and interprets each other?

I needed to explore a common resemblance and melting point of these two different arts - because both of these art forms have their own independent language;  subtle and poignant arrays of emotions that they separately intend to convey. In this specific production, the main affinity is the cries and whispers that both Frida's work and the selection of Ragas carry on mutually; that's where both art forms melted with each other and each complemented the mood and meaning other. 


How does classical music connect with socially excluded individuals and those with mental disabilities?


Classical music is a proven therapy for loneliness because it aims to paint loneliness in different shapes and different colours; it engages lonely hearts in a meaningful way. Classical music both Indian and Western resonates with the lamentation of a suffering soul and offers remedy for suffering and lonely souls with its storm of celestial melodies. Nitsche's anecdote on the impact of classical music is perhaps an ideal example of how it connects schizophrenic minds. 


What kind of research, learning and preparation went into forming Saudha?


Saudha, a leading platform for both Indian classical and global music has been promoting and fusing different subtle art forms of the world for the last 13 years with an aim to create a new audience of profound arts from different cultural traditions and merge different art forms seamlessly to create a new way of expressions, a new, unique and post-modern way of presenting music so that it revolutionises the listening experience of today's audience, to develop a new and universal language for different arts so that the audience from any cultural tradition and different art-form can engage to our presentations more deeply. 


This production was about my personal journey, how I explored Frida in a different light during the time of depression that I went through and how her works actually manifested with absolutely heart-tearing melodies of Indian classical music. Frida was actually playing heart-rending music through all of her works, I believe.    


Could you tell us how you have drawn parallels between Mexican culture and Indian classical music?


Frida Kahlo herself was a big admirer of Indian culture and the whole Indian subcontinent has been shaken by some Latin American art movements, magic realism for example. Carlos Fuentes and many Mexican writers are at the core of my attention and they influenced Indian contemporary literature, in significant ways. Frida met the granddaughter of Pt Jawaharlal Nehru Nayantara Pandit met Frida Kahlo on their visit to Mexico and I saw a picture - Frida was wearing  Indian Saree so admirably. But this production is about portraying universal human emotions that are common in arts in general, regardless of where they originated from. With an inclination to arts of my heritage, I inherit Frida Kahlo, too, and I inherit Mexican and European arts, literature, and music, too, we inherit the universality as every art delineates the common emotion of human-being; therefore, in the actual show, many audiences who are from Latin American or non-Indian background burst into tears while listening to Indian classical music and many audiences who are from Indian heritage were equally crying and wailing while looking at the wounded deer or the Heart - the memory by Frida Kahlo.     

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