Event ‘Gaata Rahe Mera Dil', a show of old Hindi film songs, left the audience humming in nostalgia

‘Bhaag bhaag DK Bose', ‘Main hoon taaza mutton mutton', ‘Main karoon toh saala character dheela hai', ‘Main zandu balm hui darling tere liye…' When we are assailed by risque lyrics, it's natural for us to gravitate towards tribute shows. Where Bollywood can't think of reviving a classic without trampling all over its original charm, these shows do well to resuscitate old treasures.

So this year too ‘Gaata Rahe Mera Dil' drew a full house. And as M.S. Viswanathan, the guest of honour at the concert put it — “it is all about nalla matter, nalla meter, nalla melody”. “Don't call them old songs, call them good songs,” he said recalling his close association with Naushad. “During his visits to Madras he often stayed with me. I have learnt so much through our enlivening sessions on music.”

As always the major contributors to the fundraiser, organised by the Divine Mother Society, at Kamarajar Arangam on Saturday were Mohammed Rafi, Kishore, Kumar, Asha Bhosle, Lata Mangeshkar, Mukesh, Manna Dey, Hemant Kumar, Shamshad Begum, Shakeel Badayuni, Roshan, O.P. Nayyar, Naushad and S.D. Burman. And you don't really need a guided tour of their rich repertoire; you connect instantly with their musicality. As song after song from the 1950s and 1960s came alive at the almost three-hour programme, it brought back memories of milestones in the lives of these artistes.

Anil Bajpai, the Rafi incarnate, has proved with every performance that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. He has taken the art of replicating his idol's style of rendition so seriously that he has made it his life's work. No vocal arabesques… with just the right emotion, enunciation, style and pace, he makes your trip down melody lane worthwhile. So there was ‘Chaudvin ka chaand', ‘Dheere dheere chal chand gagan mein', ‘Sau baar janam lenge', ‘Do sitaron ka zameen par milan', ‘Leke pehla pehla pyaar' and ‘Maang ke saath tumhara'.

Kishore Kumar reached out to music-lovers through Ganesh, who did immense justice to the effervescent ‘Ek ladki bheegi bhaagi se' (from “Chalti ka Naam Gaadi” shot in a 1928 Ford vehicle) and ‘Aankhon mein kya ji'. The second song from “Nau do Gyarah” starring Dev Anand and Kalpana Karthik set a trend for sawaal-jawaab type of songs. Jaya was at her best in the solo ‘Aaiye meherbaan' from “Howrah Bridge”, besides rendering many duets. Though the young Priya looked at ease reproducing Shamshad Begum's nasal twang, the legendary singer's earthy voice lost steam midway in some songs. Nayan, representative of the Mukesh legacy, couldn't get the distinctive nasal voice of the famed singer while Naga Chandrika's sincere efforts took her only slightly close to Lata Mangeshkar's high-octave singing. Surojit Guha conveyed well the melancholy in Talat Mahmood's ‘Jalte hain jiske liye' from “Sujata”. The orchestra from Calicut was perfectly in tune with the bygone era though some restraint in the slow and soothing numbers could have been better.

But long after the last note had been played at ‘Gaata Rahe Mera Dil', a song remained in your heart.