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Swar Bahaar - A Musical Event By Boston Sargam


Bheegi Bheegi ratein, pyari si batein, phoolon ki barsatein…gaane gatein gatein. Boston Sargam, known for their annual Bollywood music & dance competitions, introduced their Music Concert SWAR BAHAAR on April 7th, convincing the audience that spring is in the air and what better way to celebrate than with song and dance. The evening, hosted by one of the main organizers, the lovely Swathi Subramanian, was a fun and eclectic mix of songs spanning over 5 decades in Indian film music. The stage was reminiscent of a dream wedding, elegant, ethereal and full of positive energy. The evening promised to be fun and enjoyable, how could it not be with blockbuster Hindi music in a blend of Indian languages, performances by past Boston Sargam competition winners AND the unveiling of the surprise Celebrity Star who would grace the upcoming Boston Sargam 2012 Bollywood Music and Dance Competition!  So much to hear and so little time so let’s get started.  From the mountains of Kashmir to the beaches of Chennai, with stops in Punjab, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, Swar Bahaar took us for a memory filled ride.

The evening started off with a lovely song from Kashmir ki Kali, with Meena Sundaram’s sweet and surily awaaz coupled with Mohan Subramaniam’s deep Rafi-esque voice sweeping the audience into the frame with Shammi and Sharmila. Suzana Naik brought us all back down to earth with her ‘dard-e-awaaz’ bringing to life “Jhoom Jhoom Dhalti Raat” from Kohra. The audience was lost in the song but Vasanth Murthy and Smita Jani snapped us back with a lively and spirited rendition of Brahmachari’s “Aaj Kal Tere mere pyaar ke charche”. Everyone was clapping and humming along with the performers. What fun! The next performer was such a delight and left us all in awe. Anusha Kulkarni, a Boston Sargam Competition Winner (no surprise why she won!), sang in both Hindi and Malayalam the song “Gum sum kyon ho tum?” from Paa. Anusha’s depth of understanding of both the languages so as to sing with the appropriate emotions was so amazing to hear. A superstar of tomorrow? Absolutely! Can’t wait to hear more from this talented young lady. Keep up the great work Anusha! From the masoom Anusha to Raghu Saranathan’s rich voice singing “Huzoor is kadar bhi na itraake chaliye” from the film Masoom brought back memories of the fun antics of Saeed Jaffrey and Naseeruddin Shah. Controlled, strong, expressive are a few words to describe Swati Jogdand’s voice as she brought to life a Marathi folk song “Aata Vajale Ki Bara”. Swati J. nailed this song and made it look so easy – delivering a very powerful popular Lavni that needs tremendous control and flair. Was Mukesh in the house? Well, not exactly in person, but Mohan certainly personified Mukesh’s emotions while transitioning seamlessly from Hindi to Bengali and back again in the Mukesh song “Kahi Dur Jab Din” from Anand. Well done Mohan.

Well, the evening then took an upbeat turn to present day Bollywood. Smita and Parag Joshi, a Boston Sargam Competition Winner (again no surprises here!) delivered a heart-thumping performance of “Ainvayi Ainvayi” from Band Baja Baraat in pukka Punjabi style. Their rocking performance had everyone, young and old, dancing in the aisles. I’m thinking to myself “Their Punjabi is better than mine!”. I guess that’s what they call talent… and Ranbir Kapoor has nothing on the new ‘Rock Star’ in town Parag, who would go on to thrill us with more of his talent later in the show. What came next was nothing short of exhilarating. All the women in the audience were swooning in John Abraham’s arms to the naughty but oh so nicely sung “Jadoo hai nasha hai” from Jism. Meena worked her magic once again by bringing to life the sensuality and softness of this song. Woo, is it hot in here?

To cool things down just a little bit, Suzana and Shraddha Agrawal took the stage for “Dola” from  Devdas. Too bad Shah Rukh and Jackie Shroff missed this performance but lucky us who got to be transported back to opulent palace in this song. Suzana and Shraddha’s voices were very well matched.  Well done ladies! Ok, so I had mentioned that a new Rock Star was in town by the name of Parag J. and his medley of songs – “Yeh Honsla Kaise Jhuke” from Dor and “Bin Tere” from I Hate Luv Storys - just proved my point. Lots of energy and stage presence made Parag’s Shafqat Ali Khan performance that much more enjoyable. Trust me, this man is no one-hit-wonder!

To break up the song with a little dance was another young performer and Boston Sargam Competition winner Alok Macharla who dazzled the audience with his talents. Alok Macharla is one hip sway away from Bollywood so Hritik Roshan better watch out. Not only did Alok dance but he does his own choreography and that’s the truth because believe me, his hips didn’t lie! Great things to watch for from this talented young dancer/choreographer. Go Alok!

Pitch perfect, phantastic, ooo la la, va va va voom. That was Shraddha & Ujjwal Parikh singing the biggest blockbuster song of the year from the biggest movie of the year. I think I saw Vidya Balan in the house swinging her hips to the brilliantly sung “Oo la la” from Dirty Picture, it was THAT good.

Ok. So what happens when you mix salsa with tadka? Mirchi Beats, of course! This band brought down the house. Hiral Parikh and Christy Mathew put the beats in Mirchi Beats. They’re cool, they’re hip and they are oh so good at this whole music thing. What an absolute treat to hear them play. They will blow you away! Mirchi Beats teamed up with Raghu Saranathan, Rahul Bharadwaj and Sudha (Lakshmi) Rao to further take it up a notch with “Kolaveri Di”. There was so much fun in this song, it was like a jam session, with the Bambaiya/Gujarati/Punjabi /Tamil/Malayalam/English version of this song sung by these talented singers. Desi cool, man! An amazing performance by all-absolutely loved every minute of every language in which this song was sung.

That was just the first half of the evening! There was more song and dance to come as well as the unveiling of the Celebrity Star! Any guesses? You’ll have to read on to find out…

The second half opened with back to back glittering performances by uber talented Sudha (Lakshmi) Rao singing “Honton mein aise baat” from Jewel Thief and Shraddha performing Gulzar’s classic “Suniyo ji Arj Maario Babula Hamaar Sawan Ayo” from Lekin. Both performances left the audience spellbound as both Sudha and Shraddha transported us through the times with their superb renditions in their own amazing voices.

From one heart thumping performance to the next, the dynamic singing duo of Ujjwal and Parag took us along for the ride with the top down, and wind running through our hair as they belted out “Koi Kahe” from the movie “Dil Chahta Hai”. Their voices were so well suited to sing together.

While we were still reeling from that fun and rocking number, it was that time of the evening. What we had all been waiting for, the announcement of Boston Sargam’s 2012 PrimeTime Celebrity Star. It was none other than playback singer Anuradha Palakurthi!  She gave us a brief taste of her singing prowess in a short teaser peshkash of a nostalgic journey of romantic female songs from the last 50 years of Indian cinema, from the quaint and sensuous voices of Geeta Dutt and Asha Bhosle to the classic sounds of Lata Mangeshkar and Shreya Ghoshal. It left us all wanting more of her beautiful voice. Her delivery of Chikni Chameli got the women on their feet. No, really, they were dancing in the aisles! The quality, delivery, and range of her vocal talent is mind boggling to say the least. Alas, we’ll all have to wait to see her full feature presentation, to be showcased at the October 13th Boston Sargam 2012 Bollywood Music and Dance Competition.

A great example of the right voice finding the right song was Vasanth singing “Ghar se nikalte hi” from Papa Kehte Hein. Vasanth sang this song with such earthy sincerity that it tugged on our heartstrings.  Thanks for a great song Vasanth.

One person, two songs sung in two distinct voices. This feat was accomplished by Smita, who continued to impress the audience with her duality of voice. It was Asha Bhosle singing “Hare Rama Hare Krishna” one minute and Usha Uthup singing “I love you” the next! How many more voices does Smita have up her sleeve? What could possibly follow Smita’s two-in-one performance? Ujjwal giving us an emotional rendition of the beautiful  “Mai Re” from Dastak. His depth in delivery of this song brought it back to the way Madan Mohan meant it to be heard. What a treat…Wah!

To whip us back to reality, next on the stage was Munni, Sheela, Chikni, Jalebi Bai and Chamak Challo rolled into one person. The dynamic Sharayu Mahale, Boston Sargam Competition Winner, showed us her dynamic dancing abilities in her solo dance performance. Her smiling face never showed the tension of perfectly executing complex dance sequences. It was easy to see why she was a winner. Great job, Sharayu!

The evening wound down with a marathon set of songs. Suzana and Vasanth started the race with Gumnaam’s “Jaane Chaman Shola Badan”, handing off the baton to Raghu and Meena who gave us a joyful rendition of “Aajaa Aajaa” from Teesri Manzil followed by Sudha and Mohan’s equally spirited “O Haseena Zulfon Wali” and Raghu and Sudha followed with “Appadi Podu” both in Telugu and Tamil, each one transitioning beautifully from one language to the other and back. Everyone was having way too much fun on the stage so the audience wanted to join in and  what better way to wrap up this spring journey through the decades than with the most Dabangg of songs—“Munni Badnaam hui”. “Munni” in this case was the sizzling Suzana and our Dabangg cop was Ujjwal. They had the audience dancing in the aisles, in the front, in the back, on the sides and most of all, in total masti! It was dance central and it was the perfect and brilliant end to the show, leaving us all breathless and a little sweaty but definitely looking forward to the next time.

There was a lot of talent in the house on April 7th. Boston Sargam’s SWAR BAHAAR showcased superbly talented individuals, who have a great love for Indian music and want to share that love with others.  They chose songs which complimented their voices and personalities. The dancers performed with great enthusiasm and passion. I for one cannot wait to see what surprises are in store for us on October 13th, 2012 as Boston Sargam presents the 2012 Bollywood Music and Dance Competition with special celebrity guest Anuradha Palakurthi. If Swar Bahaar was any indication of the quality and depth of talent, October 13th should be quite a spectacular night!

Thank you to the Boston Sargam Team: Swathi Subramanian, Anil Chawla, Bibek Das, Ashwini Mishra, Rajesh Bhutani, Madhumita Das, Sudha Bhutani, Anit Gupta, Poonam Gupta, Rekha Singh, Rakesh Singh,  Lata Vasanth, Shashank Bellary, Rahul Bharadwaj, Jaya Pande, Sanjay Kaul, Bela Kaul, Ani Chitaley, Avinash Agarwal, Navneet Sharma, Rasik Mehta, Sudha (Lakshmi) Rao, Hiral Parikh, Himani Chawla. Special Thanks to Shobha Shastry of Alankar Event Planners & Decorators, and Prakash Reddy of Minerva Indian Cuisine.

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