Noted musician Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt feels that audiences abroad are more disciplined and this makes it more comfortable for artists to perform.
“Audiences abroad understand the value of time and are very punctual. They have patience, maintain decorum inside the auditorium and they listen to the whole programme. Nobody uses mobiles. And they come to attend the event with some knowledge about the artists.
“In India, audiences often attend events without any prior knowledge and information, without even knowing why they are attending that event,” Bhatt, who was named for the Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest civilian award, in this year’s Republic Day honours list, told to IANS in an interview.
Bhatt, who recently performed at the Taalbelia music festival held at Mandawa in Rajasthan, pointed that classical music is appreciated and highly regarded in abroad because of its improvisation.
“Classical music is given lot of respect abroad. Audiences there are really amazed to see artists playing for hours without any break or rehearsals. This appeals to them,” Bhatt added.
The musician was awarded the Padma Shri in 2002. He received his first Grammy award in 1994 for his album “A Meeting by the River” along with Ry Cooder and was also nominated in 1997.
Bhatt plays his own invention, the Mohan Veena (slide guitar), a highly modified concord archtop which he rests on his lape. He also has patents on two instruments — the Mohan Veena and the Vishwa Veena.
For him, having knowledge about classical music is not necessary for listening to it or attending concerts. He believes “music has neither language nor barriers”, and anybody, who doesn’t have any knowledge of classical music can still understand if the ragas are performed perfectly.
“Sur aur taal agar saath mein ho to koi bhi sangeet samajh sakta hai (If the tone and rhythm are balanced, then anybody can understand music),” he pointed out.
“Art is like a mirror. Once you are on stage, everything is exposed. You cannot fake on stage while performing. If you are not honest towards your music it reflects during your performance,” he added.
Given this, how would he respond to criticism about the government sending junior artists to represent India at cultural festivals or events held abroad without consulting senior artists.
“Often, senior artists are not able to give time when approached by the government and then artists who are not so experienced are sent. These decisions are often not intentional,” he commented.
On his future plans Bhatt said that he is keen on collaborating with legendary singers Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle.
“I also hope to create an album or play together with (guitarist) John Mclaughlin some day. I have plans for some albums. I will be travelling to many countries as well. I also have plans for experimenting with music and will continue reach out to every place so that Indian classical music is spread,” the musician concluded.