First presented at the Kennedy Center as a part of the 2011 maximum INDIA festival, The Manganiyar Seduction, by Indian director Roysten Abel, brings together more than 40 singers and instrumentalists from Rajasthan. Using theater to create magic in music, the musicians are seated on the stage in a four-story bank of lighted pods. As the ensemble grows in number and the sound gathers momentum, a dramatic and astounding build-up of music and voices results in a dazzling union of the Manganiyar’s highly energetic sound and the visual seduction of Amsterdam’s red light district, taking you into a world beyond yours or their own.
The Manganiyar Seduction was first created for the Osians to open the film festival in Delhi 2006. The success of the show got the show on the road.. This project allowed Roysten Abel to collaborate with the Manganiyar musicians for the first time. The concept creates a dazzling union between the Manganiyar’s music and the visual seduction of Amsterdam ‘s red light district. The sets are a combination of the Hawa Mahal and the Red light district of Amsterdam. It can also be compared to a magic box. 43 musicians are seated in 36 red-curtained cubicles arranged in four horizontal rows one on top of the other; and the concert begins when a single cubicle lights up and the first singer begins his song. Soon another cubicle lights up and then another thus creating a dramatic and astounding build-up of musical instruments and voice as young men, women, children and the elderly of the Manganiyar community take you into a world which is even beyond yours or their own. The Normal practice is to take and use music for theatre but here Roysten reverses the process and uses theatre to create magic in music.
The Manganiyars are a caste of muslim musicians who traditionally performed for the kings of Rajasthan in India . Over the years their patrons have shifted from the kings to a person who could give them a meal. Their repertoire ranges from ballads about the kings to Sufi songs written by various mystics. They also sing songs for various occasions like birth, marriage, rains, feasts etc. Even though they are classified as folk musicians their traditional music is classical and it clearly indicates the roots of classical music in India . However the rawness of the folk and the complexness of classical music is what makes their music so special. They live in the deserts of Rajasthan and are one Muslim community who also worship Hindu Deities.