Madan Utsav’s Gaana Khazana presented the best of old Hindi music

Who wins? Music created by an almost 300-musician strong orchestral set-up of yore or today’s gadget-driven tunes? Going by the turn out at well-known comic actor Madan Bob’s ‘Madan Utsav’ it is the former.

Retro songs continue to charm music-lovers. Most live shows are based on them and they manage to draw a steady crowd too. Madan Utsav held recently at Kamarajar Arangam celebrated the exquisite poetry, compositional skills and singing that marked the golden period of Hindi cinema — 1940s to 1960s.

A good mix of peppy numbers, songs of pathos and melodic romantic ballads…the singers traversed the whole gamut of emotions that marked the music of that era. They were supported well by the members of the orchestra (conducted by Madan who unflinchingly walked across the stage through the show) that recreated the aura and richness of the music of the legends. But the abysmal audio system and blaring loudspeakers to a large extent marred the experience.

The programme titled Gaana Khazana was truly a treasure trove of the best of Mohammad Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Asha Bhosle, Lata Mangeshkar and Mukesh. So there was the not often-heard ‘Aane wala kal’ from Golmaal followed by a song from the live-show staple ‘Yaadon ki Baraat’. After which the emcee entered to announce how the Sholay number in the R.D. Burman baritone that was a 1970s chartbuster will be accompanied by dance. Only that he kept announcing it as ‘Solay’. Anyway, the rendering of the song too left much to be desired.

To perk up the presentation an effort was made to dress up the singers in the kind of clothes that were worn by the actors who lip-synched these songs on screen. For instance, Suraj who rendered ‘Mera joota hai Japani’ was dressed a la Raj Kapoor in Shree 420 while Archit sang a song from Mera Naam Joker in a joker’s garb like RK with a group of boys performing extremely impressive acrobatics.

‘Baahon mein chale aao’ (Anamika), ‘Aaja re’ (Madhumati), ‘Ajeeb dastaan hai yeh’ (Dil apna aur preet parai), ‘Pal Pal’ (Blackmail) and more highlighted the abundant melody in yesteryear music. Among the singers Janani stood out with her refined vocals and bhava-laden renditions.

Madan Utsav hand-held you down melody lane but couldn’t really capture the musical essence of the era.