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Video Album 'Jaan Meri' - A Couple's Dream Comes True

Shuchita Rao

MITHAS (MIT Heritage Arts of South Asia) presented a unique two-part concert on Saturday, March 23, 2019.  The first segment featured the sitarist maestro Ustad Nishat Khan accompanied by master percussionist Shri Nitin Mitta on the tabla. The second segment featured the launch of video album “Jaan Meri” featuring Boston based singer Smt. Anuradha Palakurthi, who is the current chairwoman of MITHAS. Over 600 people attended the free concert made possible by the generosity of the Palakurthi foundation.

The afternoon began with a welcome address by Dr. George Ruckert, founder of MITHAS and Chairman Emeritus Shri Puran Dang.  Boston’s well known entrepreneur and philanthropist, Shri Prashanth Palakurthi  then introduced the artists, sitarist Ustad Nishat Khan and tabla artist Shri Nitin Mitta.

Ustad Nishat Khan, an internationally recognized musician hails from the renowned Imdadkhani gharana and is the son of the renowned Surbahar player, the late Ustad Imrat Khan and nephew of the much respected sitar player, the late Ustad Vilayat Khan. He composed the music for Anuradha Palakurthi’s debut video album “Jaan Meri”. Shri Nittin Mitta is the disciple of the late Pandit G. Satyanarayana and the late Pandit Arvind Mulgaonkar of Farrukhabad gharana.

The afternoon concert began with a resonant alaap, jod and jhaala in Raga Alhaiyya Bilawal. After briefly singing the traditional Alhaiyya Bilawal composition “Daiyya Kahaan Gaye Log”, Ustad Nishat Khan proceeded to play a“gat” with a mukhra ending on the top Sa note. He played a variety of short and long taans (fast melodic movements) towards the end of the composition. Next, he sang and then played a Hori in Raag Desh. A few moments of spotlight on the tabla showcased the accompanying artist Shri Nitin Mitta’s mastery on his instrument. Ustad Nishat Khan concluded his recital with a rhythmic Bangla folk tune. Concert attendee and Radio Music India (RMI) host Sanjay Jain said “This folk tune reminds me of the Bollywood film song Dheere Se Jaana Bagiyan Mein O Bhanwra, Dheere Se Jaana Bagiyan Mein”.

In the second segment, Smt. Manisha Jain, CEO of Juju productions, a Boston based music and video production company started by the Palakurthis, announced the launch of the video album “Jaan Meri”. Manisha said that 520 people including 72 musicians were involved in the making of the six song album which was mastered in Los Angeles (USA), Mumbai (India) and Azerbaijan (Europe). She then invited onto the stage amidst great applause, the music composer of the album, Ustad Nishat Khan. Ustad Nishat Khan introduced the album’s singer, Anuradha Palakurthi by saying “Truly, you have an international amazing talent in Boston”. He also had high praise for the couple Anuradha and Prashanth’s dedication towards each other.

Anuradha acknowledged with gratitude the nurturing love of her parents, the guidance she received from her music teachers and the untiring efforts of her production crew. Thanking her husband Shri Prashanth Palakurthi for his love and support, she invited him to join her on the stage and said in an emotionally choked voice “Every dream of ours is a shared dream and he is the one who makes it happen”.

A large portrait of the album whose striking black and white cover was designed by Bappa Lahiri (son of the popular singer-composer Shri Bappi Lahiri) was unveiled amidst claps in the presence of family, members of the production crew and concert attendees. A congratulatory video recorded message from Anuradha’s Guru, Vidushi Smt. Aratai Ankalikar-Tikekar was played during the launch. She said “There could have been no better title than Jaan Meri because Anuradha is Prashanth’s  Jaan (Life)”.

Next, colorful videos for each of the six songs in the video album were projected onto a large screen on the stage. Anuradha and several young members from the Palakurthi family served as actors alongside professional actors and dancers in the videos. The songs were written by Boston’s poetess Sunayana Kachroo, the revered 18th century Sufi poet Bulleh Shah, Indian poets Mehboob Kotwal and Manoj Yadav. Shri Prashanth Palakurthi recorded the first song of the album “Kubhi humne sar ko jhukaa liya” and it was later mixed and mastered by Mumbai based sound engineer Shri Vijay Dalal.

Ustad Nishat Khan and Anuradha gave the audience a taste of the story behind the production of each song before it was presented to the audience. They spoke of the strengths of each song and the challenges encountered in creating them. Sunayana Kachroo spoke of how she came up with the lyrics for the pre-composed melody in the “Tattoo” song and how she wrote the poem “Dhool hatakar dekha tho sapna saans lete dekha” on Prashanth Palakurthi’s request to write about Anuradha’s journey as a musician. The poem described the progress of talented Anuradha’s career from an award winning singer in her younger days to a mother who kept her musical aspirations in the background while her children grew up until the final stage of self-realization and attainment of her dreams of becoming a professional singer. The song was filmed beautifully and touched many hearts. Concert attendee Siraj Khan said “It has been great to see Anuradha’s progression in music.”

The audience was invited to participate in an open question and answer session between songs. Several members of the audience ranging from young children to adults took advantage of the opportunity. Noted Bharatanatyam dancer-teacher and President of non-profit organization Ekal Vidyalaya, Smt. Ranjani Saigal asked about one of the songs “How did the song touch you? What were you feeling when you were singing?” Anuradha described how carried away she got each time Ustad Nishat Khan sang the original melody for a song. “I was a very different singer before and a very different singer after the album was completed. I learned a lot from Ustadji” she said.

The evening of celebration concluded with Anuradha’s silken voice shadowing Ustad Nishat Khan’s resonant presentation of Raag Basant phrases on the sitar. The composition for “Jaan Meri”, the sixth and final song in the album was based on raag Basant and was filmed at the grand Orpheum theatre in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Concert attendees mingled and chatted over chai and snacks during the post album release celebration in the MIT Kresge auditorium lobby. Shri Sarvanan Meyyappan took photos of friends and family members of Anuradha in a specially erected photo booth. Echoing the sentiment of many concert attendees, well-known Boston based entrepreneur Shri Mukesh Chatter entrepreneur said “With this video album release, Anuradha has finally found her own voice and that is wonderful to see…”.

(Photography by Dyuti Mazumdar. )

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