BY MAHADEV DESAI
Photos by Mahadev Desai
September 2012: When it was over, it was a heartening sight to see
seniors leaving the Ashiana Banquet Hall with a smile and humming their
favorite Bollywood songs they had been listening inside.
Citizen Program, (SCP) Inc. celebrated India’s 66th Independence Day
with a spectacular program at the Ashiana Restaurant, Global Mall,
Norcross, on Sunday, August 19. The Banquet Hall was packed with
respected seniors of the community, who were earlier greeted at the
entrance and escorted to their seats by the volunteers. The Executive
Director of SCP, Raj Razdan extended a hearty welcome to all,
recognized and thanked the sponsors Mr.and Mrs. Bhagu Ahuja and Mr. and
Mrs. A. Advani. Razdan complimented Ahuja family for their unfailing
support and annual sponsorships every year. On behalf of SCP. Mrs.
Ahuja was presented with a bouquet by one of the SCP volunteers,
Anand Srinivasan greeted all the
congregation of seniors and said that as SCP was celebrating India’s
Independence Day, he would commence the program with the singing of
India’s National Anthem. All stood up as he led the audience into
fervent singing of the National anthem. Raj Razdan then requested the
seniors to observe a moment’s silence to respect all those affected in
the tragic event at the Sikh Gurudwara in Wisconsin and for the burning
of the mosque in Missouri.
After SCP volunteers served tasty
snacks to the seniors, John came on stage to get the ball rolling.
Amritsar born John grew up in Chandigarh. He has been influenced by
Punjabi folk, and Sufi style singing. In late 80’s western craze led
him to form a western band group called c-Boyz, joined by
Bollywood playback singer Krishna Beura,well known for his songs in
movies Raz-2;Chak de India and Namaste London. John came to US in 90’s
and was drawn to Bollywood music. In 2008, John got out his first Album
with world renowned singer Alka Yagnik, which was released in UK in
2009.He has been much influenced by S. P. Bala Subrahmanyam; Rafi Sahab
and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. He is not only a versatile singer who sings
all desi genres but is also a gospel singer.
John sang the
nostalgic song ‘aye mere pyare watan’ from movie Kabuliwala.He followed
this with ‘Teri pyari pyari soorat ko’ and the song Roja jaaneman from
Anand Srinivasan from Mumbai is a gifted singer,
songwriter and performer. He has trained in Carnatic classical vocals
for about three of his formative years. Of late he has taken to Western
classical and is also learning Italian classical opera. He has been
performing in Southeast US since past ten years and has helped raise
funds for charitable causes. In 2009, he was voted Atlanta Desi Idol.
Since then he has written, sung and co-composed two original songs Tum
jo nahin and Din hai naya .
Anand captivated the seniors with
his very first song Yeh mera prem patra padh kar from hit movie Sangam.
He followed this with another heart tugging song Mora saiyan mose bole
na (Khamaj) by Shafqat Amanat Ali. Madhuban mein Radhika nache re(movie
Kohinoor) was also riveting. Many seniors who are avid music-lovers
soon began clapping and tapping their feet in appreciation.
Rao developed her interest towards music due to her mother who was an
excellent singer and her father who composed music for Tamil dramas and
was a veteran harmonium player. But it was her husband Dr.C.Raghavendra
Rao who encouraged her to participate in music performances. Lakshmi a
well-known figure in performing arts field, has also accompanied Nitin
Mukesh in 2002 along with few other noted playback singers in India and
in Atlanta like Tanweer Mian and Azhar Mehmood.
Lakshmi Rao sang
the popular, catchy and sensuous song ‘aaiye meherbaan (Movie Howrah
Bridge).Saagar kinare (Movie Saagar) with tender lyrics was sweet and
melodious. To add bit more flavor, Anand and Lakshmi sang a popular
duet, ye dekh ke dil jhuma (Movie Kashmir ki kali). Radhika joined
Anand into singing a few more popular duets-ek pyaar ka
naghma(Shor);super hit song Abhi na jao chhod kar( Hum Dono);and as
Anand said,’ghodewala' song(song with horses) –vintage song Maang ke
saath tumhara(Naya Daur). Radhika in her mellifluous voice also sang
two songs, popular romantic Nainon mein badra(Mera Saaya) and the song
with poetic insightful and stirring lyrics-Humne dekhi hai(Khamoshi).
with his zestful spirit sang a few more popular oldies and at the
request of the seniors set the floor on fire with Daler Mehendi’s ever
popular ‘bolo ta ra ra’.The song with throbbing, high octane music
immediately got a few seniors dancing on the floor!
seniors were relishing the delicious lunch served by the SCP
volunteers, the singers continued regaling them with old Bollywood gems.
of Padma Shah one of the seniors going 88 strong along with other
seniors including the sponsor Bhagu Ahuja together with all those whose
birthday fell in August was celebrated with Anand leading the seniors
into singing ‘Happy Birthday’ song as a delectable pineapple birthday
cake was cut to mark the happy occasion.
As a token of
appreciation Razdan, on behalf of the seniors invited Mrs Swaraj
Bhandari, Mrs Gupta to present bouquets to all the singers and
In his vote of thanks, Mansukhbhai Shroff requested
everybody to say the Sloka of Krishna Om Sri Krishnan sharanam Naama 9
times for peace and prosperity. He also thanked the sponsors, all the
singers, Raj Razdan and all the volunteers, for making the Independence
Day celebrations enjoyable and memorable.