While killing one softly with the Mohan Veena, encounter Poly Varghese

By Shruti Kaushal

“Music is the literature of the heart, it begins where speech ends. -Alphonse de Lamartine

When I was asked to interview Poly Varghese, the best Mohan Veena player in the world, I knew nothing about him. Mohan Venena? Yes, a veena fashioned from the slide guitar? Research is an integral part of every writer’s job and now was the time to seek out Mr. Varghese. The very first thing I did was search for it on all social media platforms. Facebook? To verify! Instagram? To verify! Spotify? To verify! Twitter? To verify! Little did I know that by researching the musician, I would fall in love with an instrument that I had never heard of before.

While I was preparing the questions for this Grammy Award-winning follower of Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, I got Zsa Zsa Zsu. If music is food for the soul, I was voracious. Poly Varghese, the musician with long hair, with glasses (seen his photos and videos on Instagram) shared his knowledge with APN.

“Music is an emotional interpretation of our soul. All things belong to silence and sounds are the translation of silence. Thus, music is a combination of sound and silence. Continuous sound will be noise, but between two sounds and two noises, if there is a gap, this beauty is music. For me, music is the interpretation of my inner God and inner silence,” Varghese said.

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What’s a musician without a guru? When it comes to an Indian musician, it is said that a disciple must comply at all times with the advice of the guru / do as the guru wishes. The guru-shishya parampara is a centuries-old tradition of teaching that requires complete surrender to the guru, and solitary meditation and practice of the musical form.

About his guru Vishwa Mohan Bhatt and how he inspired him to pursue Mohan Veena full time, Varghese said, “Guruji treats me like his son and I am the luckiest person to be his disciple. major. He is a very dedicated and lovely person. When he plays Mohan Veena, I feel like someone is talking and he is continuously talking to me through his music.

“I remember, he heard me while I was training. He said I could be better and preach my destiny without him. He converses with me through his music and I met my destiny,” he said.

Reminiscing about when he first discovered the Mohan Veena, Varghese said, “I heard the instrument on a TV show for the very first time and was amazed. I saw Vishwa Mohan Bhatt perform and wondered who this man was. At that time, I felt that Mohan Veena was my instrument and I want to learn this instrument.

“Mohan Veena made me more lovable and understanding. It taught me the language of love and how to be a good lover of humanity and humanity,” he said.

With films ubiquitous in India, Varghese has composed background music for several Bengali films and Malayalam works such as Jeevan Massai (2001) and Kalavarkey (2003). And we cannot deny that Indian pop culture dominates regional music industries and Indian classical music for that matter. Varghese explained Indian pop music and said, “Pop music has no identity without any type of raga system. Whether pop or jazz, this music is inspired by folk tradition.

“When it comes to classical music, it has tremendous energy and no other form of music can beat that. Indian or Hindustani classical gets richer because it contains all kinds of traditional music like folk, nomadic and Sufi “, did he declare.

With the growing trend of music meeting technology, promoting songs and spreading them to a wider audience has become hassle-free. Apps such as Spotify, Amazon Music and others have provided a platform for musicians around the world to earn income, however paltry, and also inspired Gen Z and Millennials to discover music, regardless of geographical barriers.

Varghese believes that the Internet is the innovation of science that has given us such platforms to understand, listen to and market ourselves. “Spotify and Amazon are such platforms that give artists the opportunity to sell their products. People who may not know it but can listen and appreciate your work. We don’t know if we will have the chance to travel and to collaborate. However, these apps have opened the doors to such things,” he said.

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“I have jammed and collaborated with several music maestros and everyone has respect not only for traditional Indian music but for the Indian music industry as a whole which includes Tamil, Malayalam, Bengali, Telugu, Hindi and others. This is the power of apps like Spotify and Amazon,” he added.

Varghese, 52, has also performed in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu in theaters. According to him, in the theater, there is only one possibility unlike acting on the screen. There is only one image in a film, but in theater the expressions are strong and need improvisation, he said.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Poly Varghese suffered a heart attack. He recalls being about to fly to the United States for a concert when the coronavirus was raging across the world. Unfortunately, Varghese had to cancel the trip and lost some mental nerve. The trauma was real. “I was in Chennai at the time and jammed on Zoom calls with Grammy musicians. Confined within the four walls of the house, my health deteriorated. I moved to Wayanad in Kerala for a few months and had a heart attack one night,” he said.

“I was taken to hospital but refused to undergo surgery because I wanted a natural death. After I recovered, I felt I had a new life. I played 72 ragas Carnatics on the Mohan Veena and also finished a novel after my recovery,” Varghese added.

Poly Varghese led a nomadic life and celebrated music. He has collaborated with salsa musicians from Cuba, a group of Iranian and Moroccan musicians for a Moroccan radio project and musicians from the Amazon. A poet, a musician and an actor.

Look for it on Spotify or Amazon or wherever, thank me later!

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