Wednesday, October 11, 2006

K L Saigal - The play.

9th October evening as the rains lashed the city, I was busy trying to get to the place that has become synonymous with plays in Bangalore, RangaShankara.

I was more than relieved to get there in time as they are extremely strict on the timings and there are even buzzers and alarms that remind people of the time! Late comers are punished too !

As my friends and I walked in, I almost had a feeling that we were in for a treat and treat it indeed was !

K L Saigal - the renowned singer who was an inspiration to legends like Kishore Kumar was the name of this hindi play and hence,it had to be a musical.The play was to be a biography of sorts on this great singer.

As the lights went out,into the spotlight came ,dressed in Black Sherwani, the eternal Britisher in almost every Indian patriotic movie, the stage actor par excellence , Tom Alter.As the play started ,one was amazed at the fluency in both hindi and urdu( you dont have to question his English speaking skills!). He was the narrator and it was so beautifully done, that one never felt the discontinuity between the scenes which might have cropped up as an issue if someone less talented did this.

Coming to the primary character of the play, there was the super talented Uday Chandra ,who even sang exactly like K L Saigal,and he portrayed the character beautifully.The ghazals he sang were so really meaningful and the poetry was exquisite.

The play highlighted lot of important details in his life that included his creativity,his struggle to the top,his eagerness to learn new things,his relationship with the great singers and music directors of his generation like Pankaj Mullick,Anil Biswas and his addiction to alcohol which finally led to his downfall. Some of the scenes were really touching and will remain etched in most of our minds.

The scene where he is teaching a young Bengali girl how to sing a ghazal is simply brilliant.She sings well,but Saigal saab is not impressed.He then tells her ,"Gao math.Apnao. Zikr aur riyaz karo" . I would have paid the entire entry fee just to hear this being said.

Another event which was equally scincillating was one of the last scenes of the play where they show the Allahabad conference taking place with all the top music stars of that era like Ustad Faiyaz Khan, who K L Saigal considered to be absolutely god level.The conference had janta shouting out for more and more of Saigal saab which ended up in him performing for the 1st 2 hours and the others were left open mouthed at his brilliance.At the end of the conference,Saigal saab asks Ustadji whether he can become one of his students to which Ustadji
replies , "Mein tumhe bahut dher sunaa. Mujhe behethereen ko aur behether banaana nahin aata ! " Subhan Allah ! I can't believe that this kind of humility ever existed!

Apart from that,the rib tickling comedy in the 2nd half added to the beauty of the play.The Bengali perspective of North India and vice versa was brought out to roaring applause from the audience.

The play ended with the eternal haunting melody composed by the great Naushad,"jab dil hi toot gaya,hum jeeke kya karen" playing in the background.A splendid play it was and the people incharge of the play deservedly got a standing ovation.

All in all, a most entertaining play with excellent acting,simple settings and a solid script.The play dazzled in all its beauty and left an indelible impression on many of our minds.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

3 days,3 songs! They have driven me mad !

I have had the honour of listening to 3 super songs composed by 3 different music directors in the last 3 days and each one is so beautiful in its own way that they have been ingrained in my head !

1. The first song in this list was the very soft and beautiful no "Mujhe Hak Hain" composed by the blind genius Ravindra Jain for the upcoming Sooraj Barjatya movie "Vivah" ,which incidentally has a hilarious subtitle - "A journey from engagement to marriage " !!!! Wonder why he always comes up with 3 hour killers with the same shaadi setup and same supporting actors !! But,I am not bothered about the movie.All I know is that the song has touched me coz' of the really beautiful singing of Udit Narayan and my favorite Shreya Ghosal. Its obviously a romantic no and the movie also ends the hiatus of this great genius composer whose tunes I guess aren't in the greatest of demands by the current generation directors.Guess this song will reaffirm his status amongst the greats of Hindi Film industry. A bit more about the song - the lyrics are really good and express the eagerness of the bride and bridegroom to enter the "pavitra bandhan" !
2. I dont know why I did not pay too much attention to this song till recently.The song is "Luka Chuppi" from Rang de basanti composed by A R Rahman and sung by Rahman and Lata Mangeshkar. Though critics might point out saying that Lata Mangeshkar's voice sounds too old, I felt that for this kind of song,where in she is urging her son to return back home as it is late in the evening , she is the best fit. Rahman sings out absolutely wonderfully.There is so much passion in his singing and the picturisation of this song ,am sure brought tears to most of the viewers ,as it is picturised immediately after Madhavan dies in the movie. Super composition .Inspite of other hits like "Lose Control" and the title track itself ,this song has got that haunting kind of feeling and it will slowly grow on you.Supporting this great song, are such splendid lyrics.
3.Last but not the least,is this song "Yeh Honsla" from the latest movie Dor . Composed by Salim-Sulaiman ,its a Rajasthani folk no which talks about not giving up and having hope till the end. Yet again ,awesome lyrics. The rustiness of Rajasthan is captured with its slow beautiful background score.Sung by the Pakistani singer Shafkat Amanat Ali Khan ,who previously sang "Mitwaa" from KANK,this presents the range of this singer and it fits him like a T ! Yet another super song that I strongly recommend.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Parween Sultana - Goddess in Disguise !

When I read on friday in Deccan Herald that there would be Begum Parveen Sultana's concert on 2nd oct , I decided that I would surely try to make it .The difficult part this time was in locating the place where the concert was being held - "Mangala Mantapa" ! Finally googled for it online and then found that it is an auditorium in the NMKRV college premises .

So this evening I had been to this truly wonderful,once in a lifetime concert of the great Begum Parveen Sultana.By far, the best classical concert that I have attended ! As I write I am sure I will run out of superlatives to describe the wonderful singing and experience.

For those who did not know,her voice spans 3 octaves easily and covers a bit of 4th octave!!Its divine listening to her.coz' she is so flawless.She mixes the complicated "tans" with such mellifluous notes that it is absolutely divine !

Her stage manners are impeccable and the way she treats her accompanying artists and the audience is worth appreciating.Extremely courteous is she !

Dressed in a rich "jartaari" saree and bespectacled ,she started off the evening with a rendition of 2 bandishes(compositions) in Rag Yaman ( known in Carnatic music as Rag Kalyani). The Vilambit composition(this is slow and steady!) was so peaceful where she explored the nuances of the rag and also she herself played one of the 3 tanpuras on display. As the pace picked up and the Drut(the faster piece) started, it was evident that there would be some fireworks as she handed the tanpura to one of the other janta on stage and man ,there were fireworks !! The tans and the chougun laya(4 times the normal pace) was simply astounding and mind boggling ! Brilliant stuff ! Even the heavens seemed to agree,with the rains coming down pretty heavily !

Followed by this wonderful rendition was a splendid tarana (equivalent to tillana ) in Rag Hamsadhvani. It was stupendous! Never have the "dherena","dheem ta nana"s sounded better.The rag itself is so melodious and her additions to it made it as I would want to call it, "Kick ass" !! Traditionally , the taranas are sung at the end of the concert to mark the end of the concert,but this was surprising and yet, you could sense that something more special was to follow !

And follow it did ! 3 beautiful bhajans - a Meera bhajan which brought tears to my eyes ,a Surdas bhajan in Rag Mishra Kedar and a Sai bhajan in Rag Mishra Bhairavi were out of the world ! ( to me : improve on your adjectives!)

I had gone to the concert hoping that she would sing the all popular "Bhavani Dayani" and I almost thought of writing the name of the song in a chit and placing it near her during the concert. Before I could do this , someone actually went straight upto her and requested her to sing a particular song.She said that she would sing it at the end . I was almost sure that this person also had requested the same song !!

After the bhajans, she announced that she would sing the song that "people had been asking for" in rag Mishra Bhairavi and there were no doubts left in anyone's mind that this had to be the song dedicated to Goddess Durga !

As she sang this song, she fluently sang across 3 octaves and it pretty much filled me up with goosebumps ! SIMPLY BRILLIANT ! It was as if Goddess Durga was herself singing it ! She herself had tears in her eyes while she was singing . Such was the passion and involvement that the 300 odd crowd were left absolutely intoxicated with her superb rendition of "Bhavani Dayani" ! And as she held out her hands at the end of song, janta in the auditorium gave her a completely deserving standing ovation !

Was really sad the concert had to get over. She paid rich tributes to the city that she loves coming to and the audience which was really supportive ! Am sure I will buy a few more cassettes/cds of her's in the near future but even if I listen to her singing , I think the electric atmosphere that she creates while she performs live will be missing , but atleast will listen to the goddess herself sing ! This concert will linger on in my memory for a very long time and I am sure the massive respect that I have had for her all these years will increase some X fold where X is a pretty big no !

All in all , a superb evening ! And now,I am feeling enlightened !