A great idea was born during a midnight conversation, in Malaysia when Guru Ratikant Mohapatra, Director of Srjan Nrityabasa and Agnimitra Behera decided together to create a band, which would be Odisha’s very own and would be ready to take off in any part of the globe.
In his own words Ratikant Mohapatra said, “While touring South East Asia recently for a performance series with some of these musicians, I was looking for a fusion band in Singapore and Malaysia for my festival, when this idea of trying our home-grown talents occurred to me. Young and gifted violinist and music composer Agnimitra Behera came forward to support my venture, as artistic director while Flautist Srinivas Satpathy, a Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar Awardee of Central Sangeet Natak Akademi offered to be the co-director.”
Thus an exclusive music band consisting of Odia artists came into existence in the year 2017. From its very inception and first performance, in the same year, which took place in Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Award giving function at Rabindra Mandap in Bhubaneswar, the band has been earning rave reviews.
Since the band was the brain-child of ‘Shibu’, as Ratikant Mohapatra is popularly and fondly known, and violinist Agnimitra Behera, very significantly they named the band Shivagni.
When the band performs, literally the whole proscenium stage is set on fire, such as the power of Shivagni’s music.
Ever since it was founded, there has been no looking back. They have been performing in the nooks and crannies of Odisha.
But the biggest breakthrough came to the talented team when Srjan–Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Odissi Nrityabasa-held Samsmaranam on the 15th Anniversary of the Guru’s passing away at Rabindra Bhawan in Jalpaiguri in West Bengal on the sixth and seventh of April, 2019.
The ensemble consisted of vocalist Kshiti Prakash Mohapatra, Violinist Agnimitra Behera, flautist Srinivash Satpathy, Ramesh Chandra Behera-the Key Board player, Deba Ranjan Nayek – the guitarist, Vaibhav Kumar Das- the percussionist, Biswa Ranjan Nanda – the tabla player and Alok Kristi – the drummer. Together they created a magic aura. The audience remained glued to their seats from the start to the finish. The group could be best described as fusion experts of Classical discipline.
As one would expect their first number was Srjan Ranga, evoking intense devotion or Bhakti Bhava in raag Bhairavi. The group of versatile musicians paid their tribute to Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, in a spirit of reverence.
‘Moving Together’ had a series Hindustani ragas, seventeen in all, woven into a beautiful garland for the listening pleasure of the audience.
‘The Hymn of Shivagni’, celebrated raag Charukesi- based on 7 beats- in all its glory. Every turn and bend of the raag provided ecstasy.
The piece with the nomenclature ‘Odissi’ came as a surprise. It consisted of three traditional Odia pieces-‘Sangini re chaha’, ‘Dekhogo’ and ‘Braja Rajo’- albeit providing a new flavour. It came with the use of a normal music arrangement consisting of the guitar, tabla and dholak. It spread a magic spell on the listening public.
The piece ‘Arabian Nights’ sent listeners like me into a trance. ‘Arabian Nights’ for me was like going to the desert land and joints of Dervishes, who danced ecstatically, spinning away like far away planets and experiencing moksha-salvation. It was by far the best piece as far as I was concerned. It evoked a sense of mysticism.
‘Tempest’, as the name suggests, was influenced by Western Music. The group stretched barriers and proved music’s universality.
Rhythmic variations in each of the pieces were enthralling. The presentation had a good mix of indigenous music both folk and classical as well as western.
Each individual instrumentalists, as well as the vocalist, was given scope to make their mark. Both performers and listeners enjoyed the free spirit provided by music.
All good things also have an ending. The evening was concluded with the soulful singing of A.R.Rahman’s ‘Ma Tujhe salaam’.
These and many more such numbers provided sheer joy. “Music is a universal language and has an amazing ability to speak directly to our emotions” Shivagni catered to a full house.