It is baffling how songs of R.D. Burman still give us goosebumps

At seven sharp, a slow clapping started. It was the polite Coimbatore audience telling the organisers, “Come on, begin the show!” They finally did, and because it was a tribute to R.D. Burman, all was forgiven. Gulzar’s words with Pancham Da’s music is a marriage made in heaven. And one can wait forever to listen to their songs. So, every song of the evening was greeted by deep sighs and hands clasped to the heart.

At ‘Yeh Shaam Mastani’, a musical evening, Srinivas, his daughter Sharanya and Anuradha Sriram sang immortal R.D. Burman songs to an eager audience. “I feel like standing up and screaming, ‘three cheers to Bollywood’,” said one lady who sang along lustily. “Not just the music, the words are so profound,” commented Sethu, an NRI who happened to be in Coimbatore. “Hear the deep spiritual and philosophical content of the songs,” she said. She was referring to ‘Musafir Hoon Yaaron…’ from Parichay, and the wondrous “Kuch Toh Log Kahenge” from Amar Prem. She said, “In songs such as ‘Raina Beeti Jaaye’ from Amar Prem, there is no action at all. Sharmila Tagore sits in one place and sings, and Rajesh Khanna sits in front of her and listens. That is all there is to it and yet we remember the scene, the music and the song so vividly.”

It was not just the oldies in the audience. Every time Srinivas, Anuradha or Sharanya sang, 30-year-old Sridhar typed out the opening lines of the song into his smart phone along with the name of the movie, the year of its release, the original singers, the director and so on. It is baffling how these songs are still so much a part of our consciousness. There was audience there who was not even born when some of these films were made!

Amar Prem, Kati Patang, Jawani Diwani, Rampur Ka Lakshman, Khel Khel Mein, Anamika…Anuradha Sriram sang ‘O Mere Sona Re Sona Re…’ from Teesri Manzil and Srinivas followed that up with ‘Yeh Shaam Mastani’… from Kati Patang. It was an endearing moment to see a proud Srinivas introduce his daughter Sharanya to the audience, and seek its blessings for her. She sang beautifully from the film Rampur Ka Lakshman, the song ‘Gum Hai Kisi Ke Pyaar Mein’, along with her father.

The evening was a tribute not just to R.D. Burman but to a host of others who are no more: the incandescent Suchitra Sen (Andhi), Rajesh Khanna, Sanjeev Kumar, Jalal Agha (Sholay, ‘Mehbooba’), Shammi Kapoor, Dev Anand and, of course, Kishore Kumar.

The live band that accompanied the singers, as always, lent that extra edge to the performance. Anuradha Sriram and Sharanya were a joy to hear and Ranjini Subramaniam made the complex ‘Beeti Na Bitaye Raina’ from Parichay sound effortless. Coimbatore wished she had sung some more. It was not Srinivas’ finest. But a singer is permitted his off day now and then. And he is from Coimbatore and will always be loved and appreciated.

The evening drew to a close with Srinivas belting out ‘Mehbooba Mehbooba’ from Sholay followed by him, Anuradha and Sharanya singing the high energy ‘Jai Jai Shiv Shankar’ from Aap Ki Kasam.

Yeh Shaam Mastani was organised by Options Live from Chennai. Park Educational Institutions were the main sponsors.