Soon after bidding farewell to Lord Ganesha, I was captivated by the thought of planning the celebration of the upcoming momentous milestone: The Ninetieth Birthday of the Nightingale: Lata Mangeshkar! MI mind went blank trying to write something that was different and distinct enough to justify the overwhelming importance of this occasion. I kept writing and discarding, as I have already written a lot on what was 'different' and 'deferent', and then, I gave up reluctantly.
Overpowered by the restlessness of how I was not able commemorate this landmark event when I have forever been in so much awe of her, thoughts swam through my mind, and one rose from the depths to skim the surface! I seemed compelled to come up with a list of the wide ensemble of rare classic song gems of Lata ji. They were all unearthed and presented with a breath of new life at the “Keep Alive” live music events over the past 22 years by an array of trained and talented singers ranging from Vaishali Samant and Vrushali Patil, Shailaja Subramanian and Sarita Rajesh to Lopita Mishra and Supriya Joshi to Radhika Nanday, Anupama Roy, Shruti Rane, Jyotika Sharma and Prajakta Sarardekar and Sairam Iyer (who sang effortlessly in both male and female voices).
The above singers were supported in the duet songs by other talented singers like Anand Bahal, Anant Bhardwaj, Gaurav Bangia, Nishanth S V, Rana Chatterji, Sagar Sawarkar, Shrikant Narayan... and in the chorus~choir backed songs by Nishigandha Phatak. Nitin Karandikar, Rahul Chitnis, Sonal Naik, Sudha Sundar, Sumeeta Sundar, Veena Joshi....
Presenting the novel conglomeration of the Nightingale Nuggets to mark her Ninetieth Birthday:
Ah!... am running out of energy to go ahead and list the songs of the 60s and 70s...
The list is long and endless.... I stop here....
When I was typing out the songs, lot of beautiful memories came flooding:the musical evenings in which these songs were presented, the singers who rendered them on stage with animated spirits, their initial reaction to the songs that they had never heard, their apprehension about the audience response and the frenzied ovation they received for their rendition and overall presentation!
Incredible and unbelievable that these song gems were actually unearthed and presented on stage in the youthful voices of trained and talented singers associated with “Keep Alive” from time to time.
I am sure many of those reading this piece and who were a part of the “Keep Alive” journey (the singers, the musicians, the music loving discerning audience) will relate to and remember many of these ‘Nightingale Nuggets’ and evoke nostalgia of the good old days which now remain as distant as a dream and remote as a reality!! Anyway, thanks to Lata ji’s 90th Birthday for triggering this exercise. Could there be a better way to mark the momentous event of the Nightingale! Wishing Eternal Ever flowing Euphony to Bharat Ki Beti: Lata Mangeshkar!!
Manohar ‘Mohabbat’ Iyer / Keep Alive
Human beings came into existence through the development of cells, today we exist through the development of cellphones.
Thanks to huge strides made by smart phones, people today are no longer human beings we have all turned into 'cellphone beings'. The smart phone has finally outsmarted the human being. A cellphone is something we just can't do without and it's the first thing we switch on each morning even before switching on ourselves. Even the most momentary pause between assignments will find us reaching for our cellphones. It has turned into a security blanket that allows us to escape from the real world and live in the vast confines of cyberspace. As a musician i spend hours on end in my studio fine tuning a recording on high end studio monitors only to realise that my song is finally being heard on a low end cellphone speaker. 'It's a great track but I can't hear your bass' is an everyday feedback that i get on my cellphone. 'Listen to it on a stereo system if you remember what that is' is my everyday reply on cellphone. I feel sorry for all those genius sound engineers spending weeks, months and sometimes years on a single track. All their work finally boils down to a .5 mm speaker. Likewise, an ultra high definition, multi-million dollar music video is cut down to size thanks to the cellphone. Today families communicate through cellphones more often than in person and it won't be long before relationships on cellphones will precede any kind of personal interaction. Someday an Iphone will marry a Sony and have a bunch of Phonies for sure!
It's been a long, exciting journey into jazz for me. I made a lot of friends as a musician and a whole lot of enemies. But I did meet a lot of people. If it wasn't for my music I would have been a lighthouse keeper on Andaman Island or what's worse, I would have been a doctor, lawyer or engineer. Yes, music helped me get out of my shell and face the world with a song.
Those of you who have been around from the 1960's through the 1990's will remember the vibrant live music scene in almost every starred hotel in India. Those were the days when you walked into a nightclub like 'Rendezvous' at The Taj Mahal hotel and 'Supper Club' at the Oberoi Sheraton in Mumbai to see curtains going up on a band that was the prime focus of these outlets. Every seat in these restaurants allowed an unobstructed view of the band that performed every night on resident contracts. Today all this has disappeared thanks to some ridiculously high entertainment taxes on live music. Today, non off these hotels have complete bands playing save for a few that feature small duos or solo singers. The Lodhi in New Delhi, recently listed among the world's best hotels, decided to step in and rewind to the good old days. They got Goa's premier jazz quartet 'Jazz Junction' to move to Delhi on a resident contract and the decision has paid off in terms of footfalls generated by the band. Jazz Junction featuring singer Daniella Rodrigues, pianist Tony Dias,
bassist Colin D'Cruz and drummer Angelo Colasco began playing at The Lodhi in June 2018. Four months into the contract the band generated a sizeable following, with quite a few high profile guests choosing to celebrate their special occasion at the Elan bar where the band performs. Against all odds the rewind option proved to be a huge success and hopefully other properties around the country takes the cue to trigger a whole new revival of live music.