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Raaga-Rang: Festival Of Melodies ~ Cream Of Bollywood Music

Pallavi Nagesha

Raaga-Rang brings popular Bollywood melodies while exploring their intricate connection to classical raagas. The performance includes star singers of New England and a fantastic team of instrumental musicians. The show is coming up on Saturday, March 16 @ 5pm  at the Chinmaya Auditorium in Andover, MA.

In a conversation with Shekhar Shastri, the Creative Director and the architect of Raaga-Rang, I try to explore innovation in and the prominence of this show.

How is Raaga-Rang different from other Bollywood music events?

It is Bollywood entertainment at its best. A live music orchestra consisting of highly skilled classical musicians will be supporting the star line-up of singers. In addition, you will hear new compositions and innovation on songs you already know. Live music and the classical base allow us to innovate.

Give us a sneak-peak at the songs we will hear at Raaga-Rang.
You will hear songs that make you happy for a long time. The lilting melodies from Baiju Bawara era, to those from Lagaan; from Pakeezah to Parineeta. The sweetest popular songs are rarely sung at concerts.  The Raaga-Rang selection of songs is such that these will continue to be sung for the next 100 years!

What is special about these songs? Why are they rarely sung?
These songs require a lot of practice and skill. Now, how many times have you heard 'Kuhu Kuhu Bole Koyaliya'? A phenomenally beautiful number where there is a different melody in each stanza. The singer must have robust training in classical music to sing and sound melodious.

Can you explain the Raaga connection to these popular numbers?
Which Bollywood songs do we remember most? You often don’t realize that quite frequently, these are based on raagas - for example, 'Jia Le gayo ji mora sanvariya' from Anpadh is based on Raaga Yaman, and 'Kahe Tarasaye' from Chitralekha is based on Raaga Kalavati. The songs are such that they get you dancing in your mind. This creates the unique mood and movement in the song that makes it endearing and unforgettable.

Yes, the Olden Goldens! But, will you also be singing newer numbers?
We cover legendary composers such as Naushad, Shankar-Jaikishan, Madan Mohan, Roshan and then, there are AR Rehman compositions and other newer items that will sweep you off your feet with delight. We even have some Tamil and Kannada songs.

Is the show for lovers of popular Bollywood music or for classical music aficionados?
For both; the best of Bollywood music on display, and an instant melody shot for the classical music goers - no compromises here. A very tightly designed show - once the show begins, it goes at great speed. Simply, non-stop fun.

How about your singing stars and the musicians?

You know Anuradha Palakurthi, who has won our hearts with her singing; Meena Sundaram, the versatile cardiologist, who has given new meaning to heart-care; Shuchita Rao, a leading Hindustani music teacher based in Sharon; and Sowmya Shree, star of the ZeeTV Kannada SaReGaMaPa in 2006 and winner of the 2011 Hindi Manch competition. Then, we have Sankar Gangaikondan - the Mohd. Rafi of Boston, Sriharsha Sista - the young man with a golden voice, and Dilip Acharya - a melodious singer and instrumental musician.

In addition, we have consummate instrumental musicians such as Christopher Pereji on Keyboard, KVS Vinay on Violin, Harshal Tole and Pranav Ghatraju on Tabla.

Also, the popular Carnatic musician and Tamil singer Uma Sankar will be making a guest appearance.

How much effort have you and the musicians put in?
Preparation for this show has taken us significantly greater practice than generally required. We have to dive deep in the ocean of music to deliver every melodious moment to our music loving audience. And you will experience the joy of it all - on Sat March 16th  evening, when you come to the Chinmaya Auditorium, Andover.

Tickets are available at http://www.lokvani.com/lokvani/cal.php?stage=1&event_id=9789.

Or book your seats with us by sending an email to raagarangboston@gmail.com.

For more information, please call Vanita Shastri at 781-862-9648.

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