The Monsorate Brothers and Troupe presented Geet Gata Hoon Main: An Evening with Kishore Kumar recreating some of the magic of the legend’s voice

If all seven brothers of a family are musicians, could it be a world record? If it is, it’s held by the Monsorate family of Mumbai, who have been part of many of the great orchestras of Bollywood through the ages from at least the ’50s onwards – when father Peter was very active – to the present, when the seven brothers are in the business of making music, much of it for Bollywood.

On the final day of The Hindu November Fest 2013 on Thursday last week at the Chowdiah Memorial Hall, the Monsorate Brothers and Troupe presented Geet Gata Hoon Main: An Evening with Kishore Kumar in which five Monsorate brothers – their father Peter is alas no more, and two of the brothers are currently abroad – offered interpretations of immortal songs of Kishore Kumar. Ronnie on keyboard, Joseph on lead trumpet, Bosco on trumpet, Blasco on trombone, and Rex on drums made up the family quorum. Assisting them we had Deepkumar Rane on electric bass guitar, Kishor Narkhede on electric guitar, Shashikant Gaokar on alto saxophone, Nitin Jadhav and Milind Jadhav on keyboards, Ravindra More on octopad, and Prasad Malandkar on congas and dholak. Dr Ajit Deval (an ophthalmic surgeon), Kiran Shembekar, and Sandeep Shah juggled turns among themselves to supply the voice of Kishore Kumar, while when they wanted a female voice for a few of Kishore’s duets, they called upon Ananya Bhowmick.

The brothers have freelanced in the Hindi film business for four decades, with many of the great names of its music, from Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Kalyanji-Anandji, and R.D. Burman to Bappi Lahiri. Besides, they have accompanied many of its great singers, including Lata Mangeshkar, her sister Asha Bhosle, and of course the late Kishore Kumar, on their concert tours abroad.

As Ronnie Monsorate told it, Kishore said to them that he may have done many things in films – not just singing and acting, but also producing and directing, composing music, writing song lyrics for his own projects – but he could never play a musical instrument, and he was all admiration for their talent. Evidently his respect for them must have evoked a special affection that they would devote concert performances to his songs and find talented amateurs who could recreate some of the magic of his voice.

Depending on how you count it, the troupe presented 24 or 25 numbers. The first piece was a short overture with a terrific trumpet solo, after which Ronnie came upfront to introduce the band and some of the history of their association with Hindi film music. Twenty-three of the remaining 24 pieces were songs of Kishore Kumar, either solo or in duet, mostly romantic (but generally brisk-paced and upbeat) numbers, but many displaying the singer’s unmatched gift for comedy singing and a couple of them featuring his yodelling. Thus, Deval, who started off with the romantic ‘Pal pal dil ke paas’, returned a little while later with Bhowmick for the zingy ‘C A T cat, cat mane billi’, which had the audience in splits and yours truly on a nostalgia trip to the actor-singer’s comic heyday of the late ’50s.

Another light-hearted if not totally comic duet, this time with yodelling and again from the late ’50s, came midway, when Bhowmick teamed up with Shembekar to render ‘Hal kaisa hai janab ka’. Bosco played the trumpet solo that was originally played by their father.

Shembekar that his talent was not restricted to singing when he whistled some of the background music for one song, and then for the smash hit ‘Gata rahe mera dil’ from Guide, he reproduced some of Dev Anand’s facial expressions and on-screen mannerisms from the film, bringing the house down. Another number that went over big with the audience was the comic duet from Padosan, ‘Ek Chatur Naar’, with Deval essaying the more difficult part of reproducing not only the immortal Manna Dey’s voice but also Mehmood’s comic antics, Shembekar sticking to Kishore Kumar’s singing and acting.

Every song was rendered with verve and energy, not to mention musical perfection, but perhaps the biggest hit was Eena Meena Deeka” by Shah with a little help from Bhowmick, with a scat vocal intro by Ronnie (here again the original trumpet solo was by father Peter, here essayed by Bosco). Bosco also walked into the audience to start off ‘Bachna Ay Haseenon’ with a terrific solo, while towards the end Blasco gave us a trombone solo on a wholly instrumental number.

The concert ended aptly with ‘Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna’. Never say goodbye, indeed, to such great music from such great musicians.