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Captivating Tunes, Engaging Songs, Saptaswar Music Concert

Chitra Parayath

The hall, packed with an enthusiastic music loving crowd burst into applause when the master of ceremonies, Swathi Subramanian took the mike. The first song Vande Mataram sung by the group evoked great appreciation and the night got more exhilarating with every song.

Opening the concert with 'Mere saanson mein samaye' (from the film 'Soldier') Achut Menon, a fine young singer set the tone for the evening. Remembering and honoring the late singer Nazia Hasan who introduced the Indian Bollywood fan to Disco under the guidance of the prolific music Director Biddu, Smita Jaani sang 'Aap jaisa Koyee' ( Qurbani) next. The old favorite 'Pukaarta Chala hoon main' sung expertly by Vasanth had the audience cheering and whistling proving once again that old is indeed gold.

'Dil ye Bechain hai' from Taal hit a few snags at the start but meandered along quite pleasantly after that. The tamil song 'O butterfly' introduced the audience to Venkat Dayanandan and Sudha, two very skilful singers. Sudha drew our attention and admiration as did another young singer Abhilash Nair. Charming everyone with the age old favorite 'Oh meri Zohra' (Vaqth) and the beloved (specially with this reviewer) song 'Jhoom Barabar Jhoom Sharaabi' Vitthal Bhakta sang, transporting all to an imaginary mehfil.

The second half of the program was even better received than the first with cries of 'Encore' ringing out after Achyut had sung the crowd pleasing song 'Mitwa' from the Oscar nominated 'Lagaan'. Another crowd pleaser was DumMaro Dum wiith Smitha belting it out dressed to the hilt as a young Zeenath in 'Hare Rama hare Krishna.' Vasanth brought the house down with his rendering of Mannade's timeless classic 'Laaga Chunri mein daag' and an impromptu Garba dance lifted spirits when Vitthal sang a Gujarati number.

We caught up with the performers during intermission when there were long queues at the food counter. Eyes shining and basking in all the adulation, each one seemed overwhelmed by the tremendous response. Local music Director Christy Mathews, the man behind the key Board, seems extremely pleased with the showing. He has just finished work on a collection of songs on an album and is awaiting much needed recognition for his precocity. 'I am amazed by the dedication of this group, they have worked so well together" he said. Kumar Padmanbhan, also working magic at the keyboards, expresses a desire to work more musical instruments into popular Indian music. "I would like to explore that realm" he said. There creeps in a hint of pride in his voice as he describes a musical medley performed by the group earlier in the evening, his obvious talent is there for all to see.
Ishwar Patel on the Dholak and Harshal Tole on the Tabla showed their impressive skills on the instruments, as did the guitarists Amit Singh and Pankaj Kanth.Sumanth Shankar played the drums and the audio was arranged by Geetha Mahadeavan. The harmony team had Sneha Jacob, Kavitha Narayan and Arti Nair.

Abhilash Nair and his wife Arti, both popular this evening, tell us that they are enjoying performing for this boisterous a crowd. Achuth Menon seconds the opinion, adding that they were all pleasantly surprised by the support and appreciation. "It is pleasure to sing when our songs are so well received, makes us want to sing more and sing better for these folks" he beams. "I love working with this group." Manav Shah, vocalist, seems to agree.
Vasanth, another veteran male lead singer confides 'The most gratifying moment was when a gentleman walked up to me and shaking my hand said that my songs had carried him on wings of nostalgia, to a different more pleasing era."

The surprise package of the evening Sudha, the main female lead had the crowd eating out of her hands from the word go. "Music is my passion," she says , having sung with major musical groups in Chennai, the recent immigrant to the area is an asset to the fledgling group.
Mohan Samsundaram, the man behind the whole show is modest when we credit him with the success of the event. He has been involved in all the phases of getting this band together and he does not deny the heartache and toil that went into the enterprise. A daunting task indeed. "Even though getting the whole group together for practice was a Herculean task, the effort has paid off. The crowd has never looked happier."

" This is an remarkably talented group" he says of the performers." The chemistry between them is tremendous and it comes through in their performance. " Saptaswar is committed to unify the talents of all its members and we are working to raise public awareness and funds to support the noble causes of local non-profit and charitable organizations." He iterates. Looking around at the sea of people anticipating the second half of the program he adds pensively. " we are always looking for talent" he says when we ask him if he invites potential artists to join his group." We need someone to sing Kishore Kumar's songs. We would like the new musicians to meet with the group and we also would like to gauge the level of commitment one brings before making any decision"

Nirmala Garimella and I catch the eyes of a few enthusiastic spectators and decide to talk to them. Revathy Srinivasan, seen swaying and clearly enjoying the show says with a laugh that the decade music theme is what appeals to her the most. Songs from the 60's 70's were sung, dating to the present. Meena Ananth rushing back after a snack to catch the second half of the evening gushed that this was one of the best live music shows she had attended in recent times. Her husband Mr. Raju Anant , was of the same opinion.
Meena Sundaram , singer from the group Saptaswar, taking a break because of a throat ailment explains ruefully that this is one of the most professional performances she has ever witnessed the group execute. '" I'll be part of the next one" she laughs " Who wouldn't want to be part of such a talented group!"

We come back happy , wishing though that the show had begun earlier in the evening, 6 instead of 7. The interval between the two parts ( just over an hour) was too long for these reporters who had attended sans family.
Another niggling thought plaguing this reviewer's mind was that of the musical instruments over riding and taking away from the vocals in some songs. No doubt the poor acoustics in the hall played a part in this but Saptaswar may do well to check and rectify this problem.

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