Bollywood movies are popular in Soviet countries: Ukrainian pianist Dinara Klinton
Dinara Klinton, Ukrainian pianist, is on a four-city tour—Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Bengaluru—in India. She talks about her experience of watching Indian films in Soviet, as a child, and finding the roots of Western classical music in India.
Jet-lagged yet enthusiastic, the Ukrainian pianist Dinara Klinton still remembers how two decades back her grandmother watched the Hema Malini-starrer Seeta Aur Geeta (1972), for the songs and dances in the film. In India — where the movie was made — the Western classical instrumentalist talks about how her genre of music is making a strong hold in India, and why she’s looking forward to her performance in Delhi.
“I have heard Bollywood music before because Bollywood movies are very popular in the Soviet countries, and that’s where I originated from,” says Klinton, 29, who was born in Ukraine and has recently completed the Artist Diploma in Performance at the Royal College of Music, London. She recalls having had a taste of Bollywood music in her childhood, “My grandmother, she very much adored Indian films, and I would watch them when I was a little kid. My grandmother watched them, of course, for the music and dances, and also the clothes because they are very spectacular, very colourful… and the stories are very nice and tell lot about love and about relations between men and women, but in a very elegant way. Actually, now in the Western world, it’s not as common and that makes me very sad.”
To rediscover the essential relationship of music with cinema, she happily accepted to perform in India, and bring here her project titled, Cinema in Concert, which she has been developing since 2013. “There was a time when silent films were often accompanied by piano. The concept of this concert is very similar to that,” says Klinton explaining that during her performance, there will be “visual scenes playing in the backdrop” as she plays the piano to accompany. “The performance, therefore, will be interesting because the audience will not just get to hear what I play, but also relate it to the visuals that will be screened in the backdrop. This way, even those who don’t really enjoy listening to Western classical music will have something to connect with it,” she adds.
Klinton has appeared at quite a few international music festivals including the Rheingau Music Festival, International Festival of Piano ‘La Roque d’Antheron’, Aldeburgh Proms, and Cheltenham Festival. But, over last weekend when she attended a concert in Delhi; she couldn’t help rave about the magic of old Bollywood melodies. “I attended a concert last Saturday at Stein Auditorium, India Habitat Centre, which was dedicated to the compositions by SD Burman. The songs from Bandini (1963) and Kala Bazar (1960) movies were the most memorable. I liked how the instruments were used, and the rhythms involved,” says Klinton.
“In Western music, the notes are wider whereas in Indian music, the vibrations are wonderful. It’s a different technique that’s used to create music here, and therefore the whole listening experience is very different,” says Klinton, who mostly plays Western classical, and feels that the genre has a wider scope in India. “For instance, Zubin Mehta’s got a school in Mumbai; so actually Western classical music does exist here. And I’m pretty sure that in future it will become quite popular. It’s just something new. Actually I think concerts like these — one where I combine the piano recital with the visuals from animated films — will make a difference.”
She’s also conducting workshops with children on her India tour, and feels that it’s the “discipline” that keeps the kids interested in their tradition. “I was very pleased when the kids treated me as a big star when I did those school workshops. I felt that what I was doing was important to them… Indians keep their children disciplined, which is a very important thing. Discipline in schools, I presume, keeps children to have a different attitude to studies than in some places in Europe. India is a country of great tradition, and respect, too. The teachers ensure that the same is followed; so I guess that’s how during the workshops, it’s not just the children but also the adults who take keen interest in learning my art, which needs discipline along with practice and training, just like sports,” she adds.
And since no Indian trip is complete without a dose of touristy things, Klinton wishes to see the “Taj Mahal, if time permits”, and try some local foods. She laughs, and confesses: “I’m a big foodie and have tried many things here already. I specially enjoyed the halva, as it’s different to how it’s done in Caucasus and to what is available in my homeland. I like spicy food, but would probably not consider trying what an Indian person call ‘spicy’.”
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First Published: Jul 28, 2018 12:49:13