Khayal music is a kind of being brought into being as it is going: Chaitanya Tamhane

Asha Bajaj
6 min readNov 4, 2020

#Toronto; #TIFF2020; #ChaitanyaTamhane; #KhayalMusic; #IndianClassicalMusic; #TheDisciple

Toronto, Nov 4: During one of the conversations series organized by the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) held at Toronto, Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director & Co-Head of TIFF discusses the film ‘The Disciple’ with Chaitanya Tamhane, the director of the film — winner of TIFF 2020 Amplify Voices Award, and Best Screenplay award at Venice Film Festival — in which he examines a lifetime journey devoted to the art of Indian classical music.

Asha Bajaj, Editorial-Director of Canadian-Media brings you the excerpts:

Chaitanya Tamhane. Image credit: Official Facebook


Cameron to Chaitanya: Can you talk a little about the form of Khayal music, that your disciple is learning and that you’re exploring in the film?

Chaitanya: Khayal, a form of Indian classical music, a complex art with its strict framework of rules, believed to be 5000 years old with its foundation to be improvisation. Khayal translates literally to a state of transformation of an artist’s performance expressed through the music similar to the Western classical meeting jazz because the performer is a singer-composer.

Khayal music. Image credit: Facebook page

To Chaitanya: Is the improvisation provided primarily by the singer, the soloist, or by all the members of the ensemble?

The accompanist’s presence is mandatory to adapt to that art to respond because it like a conversation between the musicians on stage, a kind of being brought into being as it is going. Once you start understanding and appreciating it, its similarity to the original version of rock and roll becomes obvious. The suspense and thrill are being unfolded slowly to the audience how a performer resolves that particular beat cycle or how he lands again on the resting note.

To Chaitanya: How did you become interested in Indian classical music and decide to make it the subject of your film?

When I was younger, I did not like the traditional setting of the music with its rituals…



Asha Bajaj

I write on national and international Health, Politics, Business, Education, Environment, Biodiversity, Science, First Nations, Humanitarian, gender, women