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The New York Indian Film Festival opens to a documentary on Ustad Zakir Hussain and Niladri Kumar!

Updated: Jun 6, 2021

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A car moving towards a concert venue, G5A ( a famous theatre and experimental dance hosting venue ) in Mumbai. The Space Between The Notes opens to Ustad Zakir Hussain chatting around a bandish to sitarist Niladri Kumar. The documentary The Space Between The Notes is more about documenting, musical thought, learning an art form, cognition, and musicality, and CHANGE. Interestingly, change occurs when we research well and collaborate; be it in theatre or music. In this context, Ustad Zakir Hussain says how classical music began to open itself to the world in The Space Between The Notes :

This began to change when Pandit Ravi Sankar and Ustad Alla Rakha started interacting and making music together and traveling. They changed the way instrumentalists and tabla wadaks started thinking.....I was just trying to make them comfortable and uncomfortable...

There is an interesting mix of discussion around the thought, musical thought, and feeling towards an experience in The Space Between The Notes. Talking about listening and learning Ustad Zakir Hussain says:

Image Source: Jim McGuire/Courtesy of the artist


My father would play so many ragas when I was small. He would then leave me alone. And, I would be shifting, analyzing, and assembling all the ragas.

As the documentary plays on, bytes of the concert at G5A with montages of videos, sliced together appear before you. A bluish light that was at the concert, is experienceable in the documentary film The Space Between The Notes.

The voiceover by director Sumatra Ghose is an apt introduction and runs like a sutradar throughout like a strand of thought across a piece of writing or poetry. The documentary provides some direction and approach to creative learning while growing up. While grooming your skills professionally, and respecting that musical thought and intuition that a musician develops.

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Sitarist Niladri Kumar who is a sitar legend in his own right says:

What is amazing about playing with Ustad Zakir Hussain is that improvisations lead to new rhythmic cycles. He creates that space with the dynamics he keeps it to. When Krishna used to play, we see in our mythology people and animals also came and surrounded around the flute. The same happens when Ustad Zakir Hussain plays the tabla.

Niladri Kumar is a disciple of Pandit Kartick Kumar ( his father ). Balancing the cultural roots of the sitar and trance sense, beyond the basic of the string and building harmony between scientific and the dynamic modern music, Niladri Kumar is a master of both instruments. The Space Between The Notes then takes you on a journey about the early training of Niladri Kumar with Pandit Kartick Kumar . The documentary gives a special note to the acoustician and sound mixer Mujeeb Dadarkar. Mujeeb Dadarkar adds in the documentary film: The Space Between The Notes:

The Microphone should be treated like a painting brush.

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Without overburdening with musical lingo, the documentary film The Space Between The Notes is a smooth journey into music education across times.

Production Company: Cinematix

Director: Sumantra Ghosal

Producer: Zakir Hussain

Cast: Zakir Hussain, Niladri Kumar, Mujeeb Dadarkar

Story/Script: Sumantra Ghosal

Cinematography: Sumantra Ghosal, Deepak Thomas, Shreeram Ramanathan, Tiyash Sen, Shivendra Kudalkar

Editor: Sumantra Ghosal, Aniruddha Mokashi

Sound Design & Mixing: Mujeeb Dadarkar, Jiten Solanki


Deepak Sinha is the Editor-in-Chief at RAD TIMES. He loves to read on theatre and philosophy. He believes chatting and introspection are key to the universe.

He reports on theatre and independent cinema at

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