Classic Hindi, Tamil and Telugu film melodies were showcased at Madan Bob's ‘Black and White' show recently.

When I say that the evening of retro light music was a novel attempt, you may find the epithet paradoxical, but Madan Bob's Utsav on Sunday last was so. If he tried out innovative décor with a projector-scope, with relevant, fast changing moving images accompanying the songs the last time his troupe was on stage, this year he had the singers changing into appropriate costume for the numbers!

Dual roles

And it didn't stop with just that – the young playback singers and the not-so-young emoted as they sang! I mean, even the generally sedate Kovai Murali turned sportive, and garbed like a Therukoothu artist he held the audience in thrall for the typical drama-song-dance sequence from the Sivaji Ganesan-Savithri starrer, ‘Navaratri.'

Janani Madan, also dressed in similar fashion, sang and acted out the segment with gay abandon, while Archith impacted the crowd with the sober ‘Jaane Kahaan' number (‘Mera Nam Joker'), looking every inch a circus clown a la Raj Kapoor. Couldn't believe that it was the same bubbly young man who had sung and jigged for the effervescent ‘Viswanathan Vaelai Vaendum' (‘Kadhalikka Naeramillai') song along with a group of dancers, a few minutes earlier!

And instead of singing just the Tamil or Telugu version of a bilingual hit, the singers began with Telugu and switched over to Tamil in the charanam and vice versa. ‘Aaha Inba Nilaavinilae,' from ‘Maya Bazaar,' which Rita and Raju rendered well, is an example. (Such melding is generally seen in A. V. Ramanan's stage presentations.)

The acoustic set-up with nearly a dozen violins, a strong percussion section, wind, and the works, was a visual and aural treat. Particularly laudable were the beats for another rarely sung, famous dance number, ‘Kannum Kannum Kalandhu …' (‘Vanji Kottai Vaaliban').

When Murali and Sabitha were about to begin MSV's ever-popular composition, ‘Ninaithadhai Nadathiyae …' the original singer T. M. Soundararajan entered the hall, which was pulsating under the spell of old melodies.

Madan Bob welcomed TMS and humorously said that though the ace singer doesn't much appreciate his songs being sung on stage, he had no option but to go ahead! But TMS was quite kind that evening when he went up the proscenium on Bob's insistence. He just sang two words with the echo effect intact -- ‘Pudhiya Vaanam … Vaanam … Vaanam' -- they were enough to send the crowd into raptures.

“As usual, unusual,” are Madan Bob's favourite words when he compliments others. They succinctly describe Madan Utsav's ‘Black and White' show.