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Archive for July, 2015

Concert review/ Bolava Vitthal


Jayateerth Mevundi

Concert: Bolava Vitthal

Singers: Jayateerth Mevundi, Devaki Pandit, Shankar Mahadevan

Date and Venue: July 26, Shanmukhananda Hall, Mumbai

AS expected, the Shanmukhananda Hall was jampacked on Sunday evening. In fact, many were forced to walk in 15 or 20 minutes late because of the bad traffic outside and the serpentine queue at the gate. But then, this was the Bolava Vitthal concert of abhangs, which over the past 10 years has now established itself as one of the most awaited annual concerts in Mumbai.

Organised by Pancham Nishad to mark Aashadhi Ekadashi, the festival has evolved into a 12-city tour this year, with the addition of Vadodara and Ahmedabad. While the Shanmukhananda show featured Shankar Mahadevan, Jayateerth Mevundi and Devaki Pandit, the concert at Thane the following day was to have Suresh Wadkar, Ranjani-Gayatri and Mevundi.

Like is the case every year, many similar abhang concerts are held in Mumbai and the rest of Maharashtra around this time. On Sunday evening, Happy Lucky Entertainment hosted an evening featuring Wadkar, Manjusha Kulkarni-Patil, Mandar Apte and Amruta Kale at the Dinanath Mangeshkar Hall in Vile Parle. On Monday, Pt Bhimsen Joshi’s son Shrinivas was scheduled in a show organised by Shanmukhananda.

Sunday’s event in Sion lasted over four hours. This included the launch of the book ‘Bolava Vitthal’, and the guests of honour were minister of state Prakash Javadekar, Vidyachaspati Shankar Abhyankar and noted theatre and film personality Vijaya Mehta.

The evening began with the customary ‘Gajar’, where all the musicians got together and chanted. However, this writer was still stuck in the queue at that time, and reached his seat only when Shankar Mahadevan was about to begin.

Mahadevan’s fare did not restrict itself to abhangs, as he began with his popular ‘Gananayakaya Ganadaivataya’, dedicated to Lord Ganesha. Next up was ‘Baaje re muraliya baaje’, which had a wonderful sawaal-jawaab with extra-talented flautist Varad Kathapurkar.

Mahadevan’s last piece was a beauty. A unique composition depicting a devotee’s journey to Pandharpur, it was structured wonderfully by Mahadevan who incorporated well-known pieces like ‘Bhagyada Lakshmi baarama’ and ‘Maajhe maaher Pandhari’, before ending with a brilliant ‘Vitthal Vitthal’ climax. The inclusion of Raj Sodha on saxophone lent an interesting twist.

Devaki’s recital came after the book launch. She was technically in fine element on two pieces regularly sung by her guru, the late Pt Jitendra Abhisheki – ‘Natha ghari nache mazha sakha Pandurang’ and ‘Tati ughada Dhnaneshwar’. But the maximum applause was reserved for ‘Bolava Vitthal pahava Vitthal’, which the crowd asked her to repeat.

Mevundi, as always, was a treat to hear. Since he arrived on the scene in the early 2000s, the Kirana gharana exponent has really evolved as one of India’s leading male classical singers. The Bhimsen Joshi influence is there undoubtedly, but Mevundi has matured tremendously and developed his own style and identity. His command over the swaras and those sudden bursts of energy in the higher register are simply outstanding.

The only complaint, probably, was that Mevundi repeated last year’s set list, singing ‘Visava Vitthal’, ‘Akaar ukaar makaar’ and ‘Rajas sukumar’, before concluding with the crowd favourite ‘Bhagyada Lakshmi baarama’. Each song was stylishly and perfectly rendered, though one missed the other great song ‘Teertha Vitthal’.

In the end, it was another memorable evening that left music lovers on a high. This concert – and for that matter any evening of abhangs – has the ability to take you to another planet, another universe.


The musical side of the moon

chand aahen

ON the occasion of Eid, I thought it might be interesting to compile a random list of Hindi film songs which talk about the moon. Most of them would have the word ‘chaand’ in the mukhda, besides variants like ‘chaandni’ and ‘chanda’. And from the names mentioned below, it is obvious that the moon inspired most lyricists to write at their romantic best.

The idea struck me when I suddenly remembered the Lata Mangeshkar classic ‘Chaand phir nikla’, composed by SD Burman, written by Majrooh Sultanpuri and picturised on Nutan in the 1957 film ‘Paying Guest’. Slowly, other songs came to mind, and after some research and Whatsapp chats, I managed to get a fairly fantastic list. Of course, most of these are top-of-the-mind songs, and there may be many rare ones which I may remember later, or which readers may point out.

Remarkably, some of the best ‘chaand’ songs have been sung by Mukesh. These include ‘Woh chaand khila’, his duet with Lata and written by Hasrat Jaipuri in ‘Anadi’, which had music by Shankar-Jaikishen. Then there are ‘Chaand aahein bharega’ (‘Phool Baney Angaarey’, Kalyanji-Anandji, Anand Bakshi), ‘Chaand si mehbooba ho meri’(‘Himalay Ki God Mein’, Kalyanji-Anandji and Bakshi again), and ‘Chaand ko kya maloom’ (‘Lal Bangla’, Usha Khanna, Indeevar). All of them beauties.

Mohammed Rafi also had some great songs, specially ‘Khoya khoya chand’ (‘Kala Bazaar’, SD, Shailendra), ‘Chaudhvin ka chand ho’ (‘Chaudhvin ka chand’, Ravi, Shakeel Badayuni) and the Lata duet ‘Dheere dheere chal chaand gagan mein’, composed by Shankar-Jaikishen and written by Hasrat in ‘Love Marriage’. He also had gems like ‘Yeh chaand sa roshan chehra’ (‘Kashmir Ki Kali’, OP Nayyar, SH Bihari), ‘Chaand mera dil’ (‘Hum Kisise Kum Nahin’, RD Burman, Majrooh) and ‘Maine poocha chaand se’ (‘Abdullah’, RD Burman, Bakshi).

For his part, Manna Dey had two outstanding songs sung with Lata and picturised on Raj Kapoor in the film ‘Chori Chori’. While ‘Yeh raat bheegi bheegi’ goes on to say ‘Yeh chaand pyaara pyaara’, the other song begins ‘Aaja sanam madhur chaandni mein hum’. The tunes have been composed by Shankar-Jaikishen and written by Shailendra. In ‘Ek Phool Do Mali’, under the baton of Ravi, he sang ‘Tujhe suraj kahoon ya chanda’.

And how could one forget Hemant Kumar? Two songs in ‘Shart’, ‘Dekho who chaand chupke karta hai kya ishaare’ and the immortal ‘Na yeh chaand hoga’, were composed by him and written by SH Bihari. In ‘House No 44’, he sang ‘Chup hai dharti, chup hai chaand sitare’, and in ‘Jaal’, he had the famous ‘Yeh raat ye chaandni phir kahan’. Both tunes were composed by SD.

Coming back to Lata, one of her early hits was ‘Chanda re ja re ja re’, composed by Khemchand Prakash in ‘Ziddi’. Then she sang ‘Dum bhar jo udhar moonh phere, o chanda’ with Mukesh in ‘Awara’, a number composed by Shankar-Jaikishen and written by Shailendra. Then, she had ‘Ruk ja raat theher ja re chanda’ for Shankar-Jaikishen and Shailendra in ‘Dil Ek Mandir’, and ‘Chanda hai tu’ for SD and Bakshi in ‘Aradhana’, besides the duet ‘Chanda o chanda’ with ‘Kishore Kumar’ in ‘Lakhon Mein Ek’.. Asha Bhosle had ‘Kyon laga pyaar ko chaand grahan’ in the unreleased film ‘Chaand Grahan’, which had music by Jaidev.

The list is pretty long actually. There are older songs like the Noorjehan masterpiece ‘Chaandni raatein’, and ‘Tu mera chaand mein teri chaandni’, composed by Naushad and written by Shakeel in ‘Dillagi’, with versions by Suraiya-Shaam and Geeta Dutt. In the 1950s, there was ‘Yeh hawa yeh raat yeh chandni’, sung by Talat Mahmood in ‘Sangdil’, with music by Sajjad. In the 1970s, we had Yesudas singing ‘Chaand akela’ in ‘Alaap’, with music by Jaidev, and Kishore singing ‘Chaand churake laaya hoon’ for RD Burman in ‘Devata’. And there’s the unforgettable ‘Abhimaan’ song ‘Tere mere milan ki yeh raina’, which has Majrooh’s line ‘Chandaniya gungunayegi, tabhi toh chanchal hai tere naina, dekho na, dekho na’ set to tune by SD.

Later, there were ‘Chaandni raat hai tu mera saath hai’ from ‘Baaghi’, and ‘Chaand chupa baadal mein’, by Udit Narayan and Alka Yagnik in the Ismail Darbar-composed ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’. Not to forget Jatin-Lalit’s ‘Chaand sifaarish’, sung by Shaan and Kailash Kher in the 2006 film ‘Fanaa’. And just in case you thought of the title song of ‘Chandni’, it was based on the name of the heroine, and not on moonlight.

There have been dozens of great ‘chaand’ songs. And while this list mentions songs that came early to mind, there may be many more such songs. And if we’ve stuck to Hindi film songs so far, there are some non-film ghazals and nazms which portray the moon eloquently. Examples are Anup Jalota’s ‘Chaand angadaaiyan le raha hai, chaandni muskurane lagi hai’ and the Ghulam Ali charmer ‘Ae husn beparwah’, which has the lines ‘Chanda ki tu hai chaandni, leheron ki tu hai ragini, jaane tamanna main tujhe, kya kahoon, kya na kahoon’.

The west has had its share of moon songs too. Beginning with Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight sonata’, the list would include the popular standards ‘Moonlignt in Vermont’ and ‘Fly me to the moon’, Cat Stevens’ ‘Moonshadow’, Chuck Berry’s ‘Havana moon’ (with Santana having a song of the same name), Neil Young’s ‘Harvest moon’, Sting’s ‘Sister moon’, REM’s ‘Man on the moon’ and Savage Garden’s ‘To the moon and back’. And among albums, there was, of course, Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’.

The western list would be pretty exhaustive too, and this was just a teaser. The Hindi list will hopefully take you on a trip down melody lane. The songs are en-’chaand’-ting enough.

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