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BY VEENA RAO
Photos by Krish Photography
Atlanta, GA: Shankar Ehsaan Loy (SEL), the musical trio from India, mesmerized an ecstatic, packed audience of over 2500 people at the Cobb Energy Center in Atlanta recently, holding them spellbound and breathless with their pulsating music. “Atlanta rocks,” said lead singer Shankar Mahadevan repeatedly, as people clapped, danced in the aisles, requested encores and had maximum fun. The concert was organized by the Georgia Association of Physicians of Indian origin (GAPI) as a tribute to its silver anniversary and in the spirit of charitable contributions.
GAPI raised over $200,000 through sponsorships and approximately $75,000 in ticket sales, and made a profit of $125,000, which will be used to run free clinics and create awareness about the rising epidemic of childhood obesity in over 100 schools across the US, said Dr Naresh Parikh, convener of the concert.
The Atlanta concert was part of the musical trio’s nine city musical tour organized across the US by the American Association of Physicians of Indian origin (AAPI) to coincide with its unique Obesity Awareness Program.
Each member of the trio brings his own talents and experiences to the group, combining the Carnatic and Hindustani vocal tradition (Shankar), Western rock (Ehsaan) and a deep understanding of fusion including a virtual mastery over the electronic synthesizer (Loy). They continue a tradition quite common in Bollywood music, that of partnerships between music composers contributing and pooling their individual strengths, often combining deep knowledge of Hindustani (North Indian) and Carnatic (South Indian) classical music with technical expertise as composers and orchestral arrangers. Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy probably represents the first trio of composers to entertain Bollywood audiences themselves with their chart-topping music.
The first half of the concert was devoted to old gems from the great master musicians of Hindi films, as a tribute to 100 years of Indian cinema. Shankar Mahadevan was supported with his team of very talented singers, Yashita Sharma, Rasika Shekar and Raman Mahadevan, as they led the audience through a nostalgic journey with the mellifluous compositions of Madan Mohan, Jaidev, S.D. Burman, Salil Chowdhury, O.P. Nayyar, Shankar Jaikishen, Hemant Kumar, R.D. Burman, Naushad, Lakshmikant Pyarelal and A.R. Rahman. The singers were versatile as they smoothly switched gears from old melodies like ‘Lag ja gale ke phir yeh’, ‘Abhi na jaao chod kar’ and ‘Deewana hua badal’ to the peppy ‘Ek ladki bheegi bhagi si’ or the fun ‘Ek chatur naar badi hoshiyaar’ to the sensual ‘Aao na gale lagao na’ or the folksy ‘Dayya re dayya re chadh gayo papi bichua’. The trio added the SEL twist to each song with their modern orchestra, adding a little bit of contemporary jazz here, and a touch of saxophone there.
Shankar Mahadevan is not only a terrific singer, but has great stage presence, and kept the audience hooked with his chit-chat and lively quips.
The second half of the concert charted SEL’s own 17-year-long journey in music making, opening with Mukul Anand’s ‘Dus’. Mahadevan revealed that Anand had given them the opportunity to compose one song in his film, but he was so pleased with SEL’s composition that he offered them the entire album for the movie. The trio went on to compose some memorable chartbusters for big name movies like ‘Dil Chahta Hai’, ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’ ‘Bunty aur Babli’, ‘Taare Zameen Par’ and ‘Rock On’. The audience went into frenzy as the team belted out one hit after another for the next two hours, without a break.
Shraddha Sai of Atlanta, winner of Shankar Mahadevan’s online music academy, had the honor of singing ‘Kajra re’ from Bunty aur Babli on stage with the team. The online academy at www.shankarmahadevanacademy.com is an effort by Mahadevan and his partner Sridhar Ranganathan to teach classical music virtually using online resources and virtual classrooms.
Dr. Naresh Parikh, Convener; Dr. P.K. Natarajan, Chair; Dr. Arvind Gupta, Co-Chair; Dr. Asha Parikh, Hospitality Committee Chair, Dr. Santanu Das, Dr. Manoj Shah, Dr. Gulshan Harjee, Dr. Indran Indrakrishnan, Dr. Dilip Patel, Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, Dr. Sreeni Gangasani, Dr. Mrs B. Natrajan, Dr. M.S. Arun, Mrs. Hetal Parmar, Dr. Amit Chakravathy and Dr. Piyush Patel, GAPI president, were among those who had worked hard to put together the event.
Dr Parikh thanked his dedicated team of doctors, coordinator Hetal Parmar and local promoter A. R. Paracha of Paracha Entertainment for their tireless work in organizing the concert.
“There were over 38 booths from various companies who helped us with this program,” Dr. Natarajan said. “The program by Shankar Ehsaan and Loy was fantastic and sent Atlanta rocking for over three hours. People were dancing everywhere.”
In his address, Dr. Jayesh Shah, president of AAPI acknowledged the efforts of the GAPI committees that made the events spectacularly successful. “These multi-city mini-seminars and the obesity campaign are a novel concept for education and recreation that will raise funds for the local chapters of AAPI, the national AAPI and the AAPI Charitable Foundation,” he said.
The concert was preceded by CME lecture on childhood obesity and an awards ceremony, attended by hundreds of physicians from the region.
The show was nationally promoted by Shri Balaji Entertainment.