The 7th Pushpanjali Concert initiated by Bharath Lanka Kala Padanama was held on November 24 at the Disaster Management Ministry auditorium, in collaboration with the India – Sri Lanka Foundation under the aegis of the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka. This year’s concert celebrated the lives and music of renowned musicians of Indian cinema, Lakshmikanth Shataram Kudalkar and Pyarelal Ramprasad Sharma.
The evening was a treat for any and every Hindi movie music lover as the show comprised of 25 of the most memorable songs of the two music directors. The show began with ‘Sathyam Shivam Sundaram’ from the movie of the same title sung by Visharad Deshani Vithanage which had the audience at the first note. Her voice together with Sarath de Alwis’s music was a great start to the show. This was followed by many other hits from Lakshmikant-Pyarelal movies such as Pasarmani, Milan, Dosti, Bobby, Haathi Mere Saathi, Aan Milo Sajna, Shagrid, Abinethri, Hamjoli, Tootaan, Aap Aye Bahar, Aye, Pushparani and Suhana Safar. The selection of songs has been done well to treat the audience. The duo, it was revealed, have composed melodies and provided music for 485 songs for Asha Bhosle,712 for Latha Mangeshkar, 388 for Mohommed Rafi, and 402 for Kishore Kumar. Hence it would have been a difficult task to select from such a wide range of songs for this concert.
A majority of the singers for this concert were trained singers with Visharad titles before their names, which made the event even more melodious. There were some who really captured the hearts of the audience because of the nearness they were able to bring to the original. Deshani Vithangage, Ishani Siriwardana, Sithara Madhushani and Sanjaya Hemal to name a few. It must be noted that the zest of Fathima Ramzina was as delightful as her voice and her stage presence. The mature, soothing voice of Sunil Dharmawardhana really gave life to the songs. My overall favourite voice was that of Dev Shyaman Priyankara who took the audience back in time to the golden era of Hindi movies and songs. The depth and the variety in his voice modulation made the event unforgettable.
The evening was a treat for any and every Hindi movie music lover as the show comprised 25 of the most memorable songs by the two music directors
More than that, he was enjoying the performance and it certainly was a joy to watch him and hear his signing. For an event like this, the key to success is in rehearsing. There were one or two young singers who did not seem to have rehearsed well. Singing before the music starts or before the interludes end, clearly was a short coming on the part of certain singers. Something for the organizers to think about and avoid in the next concert.
A huge tribute to Sarath de Alwis whose music direction was the strength of the show. With his years of experience and probably his own love for Hindi music of yesteryear, he is probably the only music director who could provide for nearly 4 hours with such clarity and precision. His orchestra at this concert was able to ensure that the audience enjoyed the songs just as they would remember from the past. It is a skill coupled with stamina that has to be admired and credit goes to de Alwis. I could not help but notice the tabla player who was giving more than his best to give the right rhythm by moving from one instrument to another.
The MC for the evening Waruni Nanayakkara was able to beautifully thread the songs from one to the other and also give information about the lives of Lakshmikanth-Pyarelal. Her knowledge and competency in Hindi was a treat.
During his speech (the only speech in the entire concert) Kesaralal Gunasekera, President of the Bharath Lanka Kala Padanama mentioned how the entire foundation operates on a voluntary basis for the sheer love of Hindi Movie Music. Linking with other like-minded organizations such as India-Sri Lanka Foundation and Hindi Rasika Sangamaya set up by Priyantha Gamage, the Bharath Lanka Kala Padanama is ensuring that the cultural links between India and Sri Lanka remain alive. This event needs commendation and support from both countries as it is very important that India and Sri Lanka which has had various diplomatic ties for centuries, continue to appreciate each other’s cultures. This was quite significant as the event was graced by the Deputy High Commissioner and the First Secretary of the Indian High Commission. I am certain that the India-Sri Lanka Foundation which functions under the Patronage of the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka will continue to support these efforts year after year so that the Sri Lankan fans of Hindi music can immerse in beautiful melodies of the by gone era.
I also learnt that the Hindi Rasika Sangamaya has been set up over 15 years ago and they too hold a concert annually, which too is free of charge for those who enjoy Hindi music. A commendable deed indeed.
A gentleman who has attended all seven Pushpanjali concerts revealed that the concerts have always been free and was wondering how it is possible for a voluntary organization to have such a massive concert and offer it for free and in addition, provide refreshments as well. It must be acknowledged that at a time when the country is going through such unfathomable turmoil, the concert brought some sanity to the lives of the audience to at least forget the political menace for a few hours. Needless to say it would have been a herculean task to fund-raise for this event at this point in time due to the political chaos. So once again hats off to the organizers for not letting their devoted audience down this year.
Being my first, this concert was clearly about the influence Hindi Cinema and music had on the Sri Lankan audience in the last century, and the love and determination of the organizers to keep it alive. As mentioned during Kesaralal Gunasekara’s speech, a lot of credit should go to the chief organizer Sam Samarasinghe who has worked behind the scenes to make this concert a grand success. But no performance is complete without a team and I am sure that all office bears, the patrons and the general committee have done their part to bring this 7th concert to us.
At a time when aesthetic sense is slipping away from the Sri Lankan public, it is highly commendable that there are still volunteers that work tirelessly to bring the artistes and the fans together through concerts such as Pushpanjali.