Down the memory lane—Recreating Rafi, Shammi magic

By IST Newsdesk

One can take an Indian out of India, but one cannot take India out of an Indian!

2015 Concert 2 SZSydney’s Indian community is blessed with a plethora of artistic talent and proactiveshammi2 promoters who keep us periodically entertained, and in touch with our diverse arts and cultures. We are offered a wide variety of cultural events that cater to different segments of the community – be it those that seek traditional art/music/dance/drama, or those that look forward to seeing international/ Bollywood stars on stage, or those that yearn for a “dinner n dance” environment, or those that enjoy the nostalgia of taking musical journeys “down memory lane” into the golden era of Indian Cinema, and the list of entertainment variety is endless … !

My generation grew up enjoying Bollywood movies as the only form of entertainment in India. These movies also addressed the cultural sentimentsand socio-economic matters of society. Good light-music became an integral part of this entertainment form, and we still enjoy the “golden music”from decades ago. Film music is a genre which is a fantastic mix of the different music genres from different parts of the country, filmed on popular actors, which makes it very appealing to the masses.

The upcoming 24thSeptember concert featuring TWO immortal legends of Indian Cinema – MOHAMMED RAFI 2015 Concert 1 SZand SHAMMI KAPOOR attracted my attention. I approached the organising team SangeetMehfil to thank them for re-igniting memories of my favourite Rafi-ShammiEra. This local production seems to have become very popular in my circles, and hence I initiated a dialogue with their Creative Director Saleem Zamaan to learn more about the “concert with a difference”.The following are some excerpts from the interview:

Saleemji, it is a pleasure to meet with you, after hearing so much about your SangeetMehfils. Please tell us a bit about your passion for Bollywood music from yesteryears.

Ashokji, firstly please allow me to also congratulate the Indian Subcontinent Times for its fabulous journalism work “down under”. Bollywood music has surely been my passion ever since childhood and I was fortunate to get a brief exposure to the playback industry in Mumbai before migrating from India in 1996. From then on, I have enjoyed sharing my passion by organising SangeetMehfils for a small segment of the Indian community that enjoys nuances of ‘good poetry’ and ‘good music’ as ‘good listeners’. Farmaaish happens to be the unique feature of these gatherings, and it gives me immense satisfaction to see music connoisseurs enjoying their favourite songs, and re-living some fond memories of their lives.

concert2Tell us about your upcoming Rafi-Shammi ‘double tribute’ concert.

Mohammed Rafi Sahab (fondly known as Rafi Saab) has been my sole musical inspiration. I have been an ardent follower and student of his ‘playback’ singing art. Ever since my guru’s demise in 1980, I have organised an annual homage to Rafi Saab, in my own small way, depending on the resources available to me. Friends, “good music” lovers and Rafi Saab fans in Australia have been very supportive of these “shradhhaanjali” events in 2014 and 2015. On popular demand this year, my team and I will be presenting a select geetmala oftrendy romantic songs from the “RAFI-SHAMMI KAPOOR ERA”. Indeed, a double tribute to two immortal Bollywood legends.

Do you consider it a challenge to orchestrate these semi-westernised songs from the 1960s?

Of course, it is never easy to recreate these classics with a small team of 7-8 part-time musicians, when the original songs were recorded in the studio with over 100 A-grade Bollywood artistes. But, I enjoy introducing highly talented local free-lance star musicians / singers / presenters, who rehearse with me for over 6 months before taking the stage. I also love to add quality non-Indian musicians (Chinese / Aussie) into the mix to play our immortal melodies, making theconcert multicultural. I make a special effort to provide them with precise music scoresheets to ease the difficulty. Although it is a challenge to bring together such a professional team of gifted people who all have another full-time occupation, it is fun working with them. The audience heartily applauded our passionate effort last year, and we feel encouraged to raise the bar higher this year.

Where is it being held, and what about food?

We have chosen the acoustically-designed C3 Auditorium in Silverwater for its central location. It can accommodate 700+ theatre-style seating, which we have manually numbered this year to benefit Rafi-Shammi fans who book early. Parking is freely available on the weekend, as it is an industrial area.Delicious food (veg/non-veg) by Maya da Dhaba will be available for purchase at the venue.

Do you have any message for the Rafi-Shammi fans who may wish to support this “double tribute” event?

Yes, the SangeetMehfil team looks forward to welcoming all to another memorable annual concert “with a difference”. Their support will go a long way in encouraging the highly talented local artistes, and raising our confidence to present bigger and better quality ventures in the future.



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About Ashok Kumar

Ashok Kumar is an accomplished journalist with over 38 years of experience in the profession in various capacities. He was a sub-editor in Patriot and later Chief Sub-editor in The Hindustan Times, New Delhi. He has several published articles and reports in Patriot and HT. Published reports in The Blacktown Sun in Sydney. He had also been a tutor in journalism in the University of Western Sydney. He is currently Editor at The Indian Sub-continent Times, Sydney.

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