Baraabaru Indian restaurant, in Four Seasons Kuda Huraa, translating to ‘excellent’ in English, isn’t baraabaru without its Sri Lankan band playing lilting harmonies. With their Sitar, Tabla, Violin, Bongo drums, Congas, Harmonium, Guitar or Flute-playing in varying melodious combinations, the band is passionate about reaching out to their audiences in a musical sense. The band is made up of the trio Samantha Pradeep Kumar playing the Tabla, Bongo drums and Congas with Dinendranath Tharshi on Sitar and Violin. Last but not least, Moditha Wittachchi plays the Harmonium, flute and guitar. Making up 15 years of experience playing in festivals, weddings and other occasions in Sri Lanka, the band is currently the in-house band at Four Seasons Kuda Huraa.
Dinendranath’s biggest influence in playing the Sitar came from Ravi Shankar, who is internationally known as the “Sitar Maestro.” He got closer to the virtues of Ravi Shankar through his father who went to the same music school as Ravi Shankar. According to his father, Ravi Shankar practised 15 hours daily to master the complexity of the instrument as it has seven very sharp strings which are difficult to manoeuvre. Often times his fingers got bruised, but that did not stop Dinendranath in playing the Sitar with a beautiful liveliness every time.
Samantha’s admiration for the classical tabla player, Zakir Hussain is prominent in the way he mentioned the star tabla player’s name as one of his key motivations in playing the instrument. Zakir being a prodigy of classical tabla, it is every tabla player’s vision to finetune to the master’s ways. The flute player of the band, Moditha, names Hariprasad Chaurasia, the classical flutist well-known for his innovative traditional reserve of Eastern Classical music as his inspiration. The flute is oftentimes known as the symbol of spiritual call or the call of divinity enhancing the beauty of the instrument with the intricacy of its sound.
The trio plays their tunes during dinner time, when people are taking their last meal of the day, getting ready to end their day with a wonderful meal to savour in. The band’s instrumental tunes played live while people are enjoying Indian delicacies, is very fitting to the soothing ambience of the restaurant. From 7:00 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. late evening, the band plays these instruments live, changing the flow according to any requests or nationalities being observed. They mix up their flow, with the first hour dedicated for Sitar numbers together with Tabla and Harmonium. The second-hour is committed to playing tunes with the addition of guitar and violin. They observed good-naturedly that a lot of requests come to play Bollywood movie songs where Shah Rukh Khan is the actor. Tunes by Ravi Shankar is additionally requested a lot, as he is very well-known, especially amongst Europeans.
The band noted that the audience’s reaction has been positive to this day. Even though it’s not a type of music to clap to the music is enjoyed in a meaningful way. Even if it is not lyrical, the tunes itself suffice for the absence of lyrics in how melodious they sound. They observe, “On some occasions, guests are very interested and fascinated about the instruments we play and we get questions on how to play it.”
The trio’s talents are not limited to just their musical abilities. Depending on the weather they actively make sculptures out of sand that can take the form of turtles, swans, or whatever theme they are asked to sculpt it for. They thoroughly enjoy working in the Maldives as it is close to Sri Lanka and being a safe and peace-loving country. Having formed close bonds with the Four Seasons’ family, the band aspires to continue playing at the resort for a good while.