Mumbai duo Roop Kumar and Sunali Rathod, and Chennai sisters Charulatha and Sri Mathumitha, kept fans enthralled with their eclectic repertoire

Comfort music. That’s what organisers Lakshmi and Saraswati said the concert ‘Amchi Mumbai, Singara Chennai’, featuring Roop Kumar Rathod and his wife Sunali Rathod, and city-based sisters Charulatha Mani and Sri Mathumitha, was about. And it was. The singers presented songs that were all too familiar, some reinvented and some just as we know them, over two and a half hours. The evening began with a ‘Ganesha Vandanam’ by the Rathods bringing to life sounds from the Sidhivinayak Temple, Mumbai, followed by the Chennai sisters’ rendition of the quintessential ‘Vaathapi Ganapatim’. Moving on to something lighter, Roop and Sunali sang the Mohammed Rafi-Geeta Dutt classic ‘Yeh hai Mumbai meri jaan’ followed later by Bappida song ‘Bombai se aaya mera dost’. The May Maadam hit ‘Madrasa suthi paaka poren’ rendered with verve by Mathumitha followed. ‘Vanakkam vaazha vaikum Chennai’ by Charulatha, who gave the song a melodious Carnatic twist, was refreshing.

Challenging song

Demonstrating Raag Hameer in the Gwalior gharana style, the Rathods then rendered the complex ‘Madhubhan mein Radhika naache re’ with great support from their percussionists. The duo’s years of experience came to the fore when they sang this difficult song. The Chennai sisters appeared to be out of their comfort zone during their rendition of ‘Thaaye Yashoda’. While Charulatha seemed to find it difficult to keep sruthi, Sri Mathumitha could have perhaps refrained from attempting the high notes. But the momentum picked up, as Sunali dressed in a kashta sari, wore a nath (Marathi-style nose ring) on stage, and sang a fast folk song. “This form of music called Lavani, requires the singer to wear the sari in this manner along with the nath,” she announced before launching into a happy folk number about a woman’s sari costing a lakh of rupees. ‘Kaavadi chindu’ was Charaulatha’s chosen Tamil folk form with the famous ‘Chenni kula nagar vaasan’, while Mathumitha’s ‘Kolusu onnaga’ brought the hall alive.

The highlight

“As a singer, I don’t consider whether the film I am singing for is big or if it has great names backing it. I take whatever comes my way. That’s how this small film with very few known names came to me. It was called Anwar,” said Roop Kumar as the audience launched into applause. The runaway hit ‘Maula mere maula’ in the Sufi genre was truly the highlight of the evening. Before Charulatha’s rendition of Bharati’s ‘Aasai mugam marandhu poche’ in Hamasanandi, Sunali demonstrated its Hindustani equivalent — raga Sohini with ‘Prem jogan ban’, her deep, trained voice confidently touching the high notes. Charulatha’s version of the Bharati song set to tune in Hamsanandi by her (sung for the first time in a concert by her), reflected the Sufi aesthetic that Roop demonstrated earlier. It was not only different but also brought the yearning and pathos in the words to the fore. The sisters then performed the popular song about a wedding feast, ‘Bhojanam seiya vaarungo’ — their best that evening. Roop then took over with ‘Tuj mein rab dikhta hai’ from Rab ne bana di jodi and ‘Tere liye’ from Veer Zaara, both improvised to reflect the depth of his musical prowess. After a final ghazal, Roop also recited a few lines showcasing the difference between a ghazal and a hazal, Sunali then took over the microphone to render a difficult form of Hindustani music called Tappa.

All the four came together for the nostalgic ‘Mile sur mera tumhara’, bringing the evening to a close. Here too, the Mumbai singers lent individuality to the song. The Chennai sisters, however, seemed to flounder while attempting the high notes that the legendary Balamuralikrishna hits so effortlessly in the original. Here’s hoping that Singara Chennai gets to listen to more of this Mumbai duo in a standalone concert soon.