“Morning Raga” (2004) – Carnatak Music and Shabana Azmi – An Absolute Must Watch Film

If you like Classical Music, you must watch “Morning Raga”. Carnatak music envelopes this film as it takes you through the idyllic plush countryside along the banks of the Godavari river in Andhra Pradesh, South Western India.

Our earlier article on Shabana Azmi’s recent comments gives us the hook to write about “Morning Raga”, one of our favorite films. We were enthralled as we watched this totally different and fresh film.  The film is in English with generous portions of Godavari Telugu.

Swarnlata (played by Shabana Azmi) is a Classical Vocalist and a conservative Telugu wife. Her best friend’s son,  Abhinav, is a new age musician in Hyderabad. He makes a living composing music for TV ads, but his ambition is to start his own band. After many false starts, he decides to go back to his native village to learn from Swarnlata.  His musical journey is the heart of the film. There is a sub-story about  the friendship between Abhinav’s mother and Swarnlata and  an old accident in which Swarnlata’s son and Abhinav’s mother die. Abhinav combines a classical Carnatak composition with contemporary rhythms to win the first prize at a Fusion festival in Hyderabad. 

The story is sensible and touching. But, the story is secondary to the music, the visuals and the natural performances of Shabana Azmi, Prakash Rao (who plays the role of Abhinav) and Perizaad Zorabian, who plays Abhinav’s girlfriend. (A Muslim, a Parsi and a Hindu playing a traditional Hindu and modern roles; the essence of India’ Society’s inherent plurality).

If you like the clip of the fusion composition below, get a DVD  of “Morning Raga” and watch it. You will love this film. If you do not like this clip, then perhaps “Morning Raga” may not be for you.

If you like the fusion composition, you would also enjoy the classical composition below:

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