Play within a Play

Musician Piyush Wadhera presents his new alter ego — Andor Wenden,who is obsessed with Bollywood,blindfolds and Leonard Cohen

Written by Dipanita Nath | Published: August 29, 2013 4:56 am

For several years,Piyush Wadhera was well-known for giving 1950s’ Bollywood numbers an edgy twist on stage. After a three-year absence,he reappeared in Delhi last weekend,with a new look,a difficult name and a very different kind of music. “His name is Andor Wenden,” says Wadhera,introducing his alter ego,“When I created the Andor Wenden persona,I wanted to use him to set a mood in which people can dream with their ears. My wish was to make a single piece of work called Soundsong that was composed of songs and sounds,and held together as a whole and not just as the sum of its parts.”

Wadhera,who has studied Concrete Music — music made from recorded sounds such as dripping water,smashing glass or a couple fighting or making love — at the Conservatory in Paris has created a piece titled Andor Wenden Presents Let These Times Pass Orchestra. The hour-long performance begins with Wadhera mumbling into the mike in an onomatopoeic burst that stills the audience. Recorded sounds of a train come up next and the journey begins. As the song,Shores of Barcelona,suggests,the stop is Spain and Wenden attempts to evoke personal memories of an idyllic space.

Recordings of French poet Jacques Prevert’s Dejeuner du Matin,about separation,fill the darkness,fading into Leonard Cohen’s grim lines from The Future (Give me back the Berlin wall/ give me Stalin and St Paul/ I’ve seen the future,brother: it is murder). In a contrast that’s shocking,ironic and funny,Wenden breaks into the hip-swinging,double entendre-ridden song from a 1988 film Dayavan that goes Chahe meri jaan tu le le. “The Piyush Wadhera,who sings Raj Kapoor,did it to please the crowd. Andor Wenden,on the other hand,enables me to say what I felt and take the risk of not even having my audience with me,” he says.

“It was the reason that the narrative was conceived in a way that no one clapped or cheered between the songs and sounds,perhaps the persona of Andor was blind to the same,” says Wadhera. As he puts on a blindfold,the lights dim and Cohen reappears in words and sounds like a sonic ghost.

He responds to women’s abuse through a sequence comprising a recording from Chaalbaaz,a French song by Serge Gainsbourg,titled L’Hotel Particulier,and Cohen. “The piece represented three different ideas of manhood,from Cohen who was a figure of blatant honesty in man-woman relationships,to Gainsbourg’s more sophisticated attitude to Mithun Chakraborty’s male virility,” says Wadhera.

By the time,Wenden resumes his Wadhera identity in a quirky presentation of Jeena isi ka naam hai number,the audience has journeyed through an undulating landscape of emotions and memories. Wadhera adds that the Andor Wenden shows will be held in India twice a year and in Paris,where Wadhera is partly based.

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