It was a show that started and concluded on a patriotic note. In her tribute to Lata Mangeshkar, singer Kavita Krishnamurti began with Vande Mataram, composed by Hemant Kumar in the 1952 film Anand Math using the Bankim Chandra Chatterjee poem, and concluded with Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon, composed by C. Ramachandra and written by Kavi Pradeep for Indian soldiers in the 1962 war against China.
The August 6 concert concluded the NCPA Bandish festival, which on the previous two evenings featured classical vocalists Ashwini Bhide-Deshpande and Pt Ajay Pohankar, and ghazal maestro Pankaj Udhas. The event was aimed at remembering legendary composers, and thus the Mangeshkar tribute had to represent a wide cross-section of music directors, and also capture different types of songs she sang, both in films and in other genres.
There have been many tributes to the Nightingale, but one specially looked forward to Krishnamurti’s show, as she accurately renders the nuances and modulations that were so typical of the legendary singer’s style. From O Sajna (composed by Salil Chowdhury in Parakh) and Allah Tero Naam (Jaidev, Hum Dono) to Rahe Na Rahen Hum (Roshan, Mamta) and Kya Janoon Sajan (R.D. Burman, Baharon Ke Sapne), she was technically and melodically flawless. The orchestra, conducted by Jeetu Thakur and featuring four backing singers, was spot-on.
Given the sheer size of Mangeshkar’s repertoire, preparing the set-list was obviously a challenging task. Thus, the majority of the 29 songs chosen consisted of film classics, with many of them shortened to one antara. That worked in most cases, except glaringly with Yeh Zindagi Usi Ki Hai (C. Ramchandra, Anarkali), which was incomplete without the ‘Alvida’ climax. Also, the concert only had solo songs, in the absence of male singers to render duets from say, Shree 420, Abhimaan or Aandhi.
With Mangeshkar working with so many music directors, it must have been an uphill task to choose songs. Even those who had many hits with Mangeshkar had one song apiece. Shankar-Jaikishan were represented by Hawa Mein Udta Jaaye (from Barsaat), Naushad had Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya (Mughal-e-Azam), S.D. Burman had Aaj Phir Jeene Ki Tamanna Hai (Guide) and Madan Mohan, known for some immortal gems with the singer, only had Naina Barse (Woh Kaun Thi).
Laxmikant-Pyarelal were represented by two songs (the Satyam Shivam Sundaram title track and Bindiya Chamkegi from Do Raaste, and so was Khayyam (Dikhayi Diye Yoon from Bazaar and Ae Dil-e-Nadaan from Razia Sultan). The other classics included Aayega Aanewala (Khemchand Prakash, Mahal), Yeh Sama (Kalyanji-Anandji, Jab Jab Phool Khile) and Jaane Kaise Sapnon Mein (Ravi Shankar, Anuradha). The motivational gem Ae Malik Tere Bande Hum (Vasant Desai, Do Ankhen Barah Haath) was sung only by the backing vocalists. A three-song medley took one back to the 1990s. The ghazal Meri Tasveer Mein, composed by Jagjit Singh, and Tukaram’s Marathi abhang Bheti Laagi Jeeva lent variety.
From the above list, it’s obvious that the choice of songs was well-balanced, elaborate and extremely nostalgic. From start to end, the show flowed smoothly, with different people probably leaving with different earworms. A such, it served the purpose of a tribute concert.
Every year, we have many shows remembering different musicians. There are Mohammed Rafi, Kishore Kumar and R.D. Burman tribute shows around their birthdays and death anniversaries. This is something that isn’t restricted to Hindi music. In June, two shows were held in memory of Pakistani ghazal maestro Mehdi Hassan. The first had singers Alap Desai, Gayatri Asokan and Mohammed Vakil, and the second featured Hariharan.
In March, Tushar Bhatia presented a tribute to ghazal queen Begum Akhtar, featuring singers Aditi Banerjee, Sraboni Chaudhuri and Shivani Vaswani at NCPA. On the jazz front, the group Modcult, formed by bassist Avishek Dey and featuring vocalist Shreya Bhattacharya, paid homage to divas Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan and Nancy Wilson at the Royal Opera House. In May, rock fans were treated to a Doors tribute by Gary Lawyer at The Stables, Andheri East, whereas the band Sceptre3 led by vocalist Teemeer keeps doing Metallica tributes. Like most such shows, they made fans revisit the past.