Monday, January 16, 2012

Bhangra, gidda at Shaniwarwada

PUNE: If the streets of Pune seemed a bit quiet on Sunday evening, it was only because the entire energy was centred in one place alone - Shaniwarwada. With Punjabi pop icon Jasbir Jassi giving a dazzling performance, it seemed like Punjab had come to Pune.



This powerhouse performer let loose a torrent of Punjabi hits, which set a new precedent for live performances that only a few can hope to match up to. Sunday was the closing day of the Times Pune Festival, and having Jassi perform was, without doubt, a well-fitting finale.

Though the show began at eight in the evening, one could be forgiven for thinking that it was still daylight. Lights flashed all around outshone only by Jassi himself. From the moment the singer took to the stage, all eyes were transfixed on him and him alone.

"The atmosphere is festive tonight. Pune is a cultural hub and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's land," he said to cheers that resonated beyond the walls of the wada. The singer opened the show with 'Gurbani', a reverential invocation to the almighty.

He then wowed all with some Sufi renditions of poet Bulleh Shah. 'Aao Ni Sayiyon' was a perfect folk song that drew quite a few whistles from the audience. Bulle Shah's 'Tere ishq nachaya-karke thaiya thaiya' transported the audience to a spiritual land far away from the mundane everyday humdrum.

Next up was a flawless rendition of 'Chhap tilak sab cheeni ray mosay naina milaikay'. As the powerful lyrics took hold, music connoisseurs began to sway in delight, becoming one with the music. The divine verse brought all present to one common ground, irrespective of caste or creed.

Jassi's vocal prowess kicked into full gear with 'Mera Peeya Ghar Aaya', warming up the crowd for the night ahead. Its interludes abounded with eclectic play of the harmonium, the guitar and diverse beats of the tabla.

He soon upped the tempo with the contagious, 'Teri Chadti Jawaani', sending his patrons into a 'bhangra' and 'gidda' frenzy. Jassi was fast for he skillfully moved into 'Ek Punjaban', and then conjured the Punjabi version of 'Naggada naggada'. The way he switched gears from one song to another upped the excitement quotient of the show.

"I will now sing an old song of mine, 'Channo'. Send me your dancing photos on Facebook, before they ban the social networking site in India," he joked before launching into the peppy number. It was a fast but mellifluous number replete with resounding beats of the dhol and powerful vocals transporting the audience to the by-lanes of Punjab. The song was a mischievous allusion to a girl's transition into youth. Its upbeat pulse, interspersed with an infallible musical arrangement, was greeted with cheers that refused to die down.

"The energy that he portrays is infectious. I have never seen so many people at a concert dancing like this. Jassi, along with his band, seems invincible. The variety he induced within a single concert is amazing. He took us on a pan-India ride playing tunes from different states, which in fact, was the show-stealer," said a member of the audience.

Soon the place lit up with unrestrained vigor of 'Koka tera koka', another foot-tapping composition. "Authentic flavours of Punjab have come alive here in Maharashtra. This gig has proved that music has no boundaries. This has been a truly mesmerising performance," said Dilraj Kaur.

'Kudi Kudi', an explosive number straight from the 'gullies' of Punjab, had many jumping into the air and dancing with joy. Spectators cheered their hearts out and tapped their feet like there was no tomorrow.

Jassi's version of 'Gur Naal Ishq Mitha' came afloat almost effortlessly. It was a sight to behold and music to immerse into. The singer delivered this number remarkably well. Its rhythm seemed more enhanced and sonorous than the original. In short, this wasn't a melody to just sway with. It was a powerful anthem that left the audience awe-struck.

"There were traditional Punjabi musical instruments on stage - dhol, tumbi, sarangi, sapera, supp, and chimta - all complimenting the diverse mix of popular Bollywood compositions, Punjabi pop and folk numbers Jassi churned out. It was like being in Punjab. The numbers Jassi belted out, the mesmerising sound of the instruments and the nip in the air all added up to make me feel like I was back in Punjab. I am exhilarated to be here tonight," said Bawanpreet Kaur, a member of the audience.

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