by LAUREN CODLING
A CROSS-CULTURAL music narrative featuring Emmerdale star Bhasker Patel is due to be released – 27 years after it was first recorded.
The Roaring Whirl features Patel, who narrates throughout a number of classical pieces using extracts from Rudyard Kipling’s Kim.
The ensemble, which first came together in 1992, consisted of narrator Patel; virtuoso sitarist Baluji Shrivastav OBE; clarinettist Geraldine Allen; guitarist Timothy Walker and composer Sarah Rodgers. Initially commissioned by Allen as a piece to take on tour, it soon became clear to the group that the recording had potential for expansion. After working on the full composition, they planned to reach out to a wider audience with The Roaring Whirl, and later performed major shows in Leicester and Nottingham.
However, the recording did not progress to commercial release after Allen was involved in a serious car accident. She suffered severe neck injuries that left her unable to perform, and as
she was key to the recording, it became clear that the group were unable to go on without her.
Appearances at festivals and the BBC were postponed indefinitely, and The Roaring Whirl was never released.
Now, some 27 years later, the group has come back together, and the album has finally been revived.
At the exclusive launch last Wednesday (18), Patel, Allen and Shrivastav played three extracts from the CD for an audience in central London.
Speaking to Eastern Eye before the performance, Patel admitted he never expected that the album would ever be released.
“In the beginning, I thought it was a piece which would carry on year after year,” he said. “We did a couple of shows, but then I didn’t hear anything, and it fizzled out. When I got the call
to say that it was being relaunched, I knew I had to make this happen.”
Composer Rodgers agreed that it was “fantastic” to finally have the album launched so many years after it was initially created.
“It was cut off in its prime and didn’t get the exposure and the performances it should have had,” she told Eastern Eye. “I’m truly thrilled that we have been able to launch it today.”
Described as a “revelation of west meets east,” the album is set in Punjab, north India. As British Asian culture has become more mainstream in the UK, Patel believes this is a perfect
time to revive the album.
“Some may think (the time) has gone now, but I don’t think it has,” he said. “If you look at Asian music and dance in the UK, we are more vibrant now than ever before.”
Rodgers, a direct descendant of the family of English composer Henry Purcell, said the album was “pioneering” at the time it was put together.
“It was one of the earliest cross-cultural collaborations,” Rodgers said. “Having the recording gives it a rightful place in the development of the genre, which is really important.”
Since 2011, Patel has become a household name as Rishi Sharma in the Yorkshire-based soap Emmerdale. But at the time of recording, the now 63-year-old was a relative unknown.
He had had parts on television and film, including a small role as a temple guard in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and his earliest credits go back to the early 1980s.
In the early 1990s, Patel was approached to narrate The Roaring Whirl.
“Back then, I had a lot of cameo roles, but when (The Roaring Whirl) came up, I really
thought it was such a lovely part,” he recalled. “As I was just starting out in my career,
and I wasn’t getting many juicy roles, something like this was a breath of fresh air.”
Patel was especially interested in the piece as it was primarily related to India. Although
he has lived in London since 1972, India still holds a big place in his heart.
“I grew up there so anything to do with India, I’m at home,” he said.
The Roaring Whirl is out now. See https://divineartrecords.com/recording/the-roaring-whirl/ for more information.