Dhrupad (1982)

 ●  Hindi ● 1 hr 12 mins

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Kaul’s documentary on Dhrupad, the famous North Indian form of classical music. Its foremost living practitioners are members of the Dagar family. The film features the director’s own music teachers, Zia Mohiuddin Dagar on the rudra veena and his younger brother Fariduddin Dagar as vocalist. The music itself, unlike its successor form, the khayal, is austere and rigidly defined with e.g. precise rules for its elaboration from the formalist alaap (which includes no words and no external rhythmic accompaniment) to the faster and more celebratory drut. Its central tenet is that of freedom achieved within a rigid rule-bound structure through a continuous musical scale and the use of notes mainly as approximations rather than as absolutes (as in Western traditions). The film attempts to explore the musical form through the cinematic orchestration of space and light. It includes sequences suggesting Dhrupad’s tribal musical origins and some remarkable scenes in Jaipur’s Jantar Mantar observatory. The bravura ending has a long shot descending from the sky into the urban metropolis, weaving through concrete rooftops as the camera pulls slowly out of focus. The critic Shanta Gokhale commented: ‘Classical Indian music is to Mani Kaul the purest artistic search. The alaap or slow unfolding of a raga (melody) to get its innermost swaroop (form), is its finest expression. Just as a good musician has mastered the musical method of construction which saves his delineation of a raga from becoming formless, so a good film-maker has a firm control over cinematic methods of construction and can therefore allow himself to improvise.’

Cast: Fariduddin Dagar

Crew: Mani Kaul (Director), Virendra Saini (Director of Photography)

Genres: Drama

Release Dates: 01 Jan 1982 (India)

Hindi Name: ध्रुपद

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Film Type:
Documentary Feature
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