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Hindi musical hits from the past

Felix Chaudhary
Thursday, June 19, 2014

A BAND formed three decades ago by a group of friends in Flagstaff, Suva, has put together a show to bring back old Hindi music hits from the past.

Purani Yaadein, which will be held this Sunday at the Suva Civic Centre, will take Hindi soul music lovers on a walk down memory lane.

The decision to revive His Masters Orchestra was made during a chance meet of old friends at the Holiday Inn in Suva about two months ago.

"The last time we played together was more than 20 years ago," said one of the founding members of the group, Dhruv Morris.

Morris, together with Binesh Sumar and Shyam Kumar are some of the original members of the Hindi show band.

The 61-year-old said after key members migrated for greener pastures overseas, the rest of the group decided to call it quits.

"It was a shame because we had really worked hard to become one of the most popular Hindi show bands around.

"When we were around, there was no Vodafone Arena. We used to play at places like the Suva Civic Auditorium and State Theatre in Samabula.

"We even travelled West and performed in Lautoka and the Swami Vivekananda College hall in Nadi.

"In the 80s, live music and show bands like ours used to draw huge crowds."

Keyboard player and co-founder of the Hindi pop band, Ravi Shankar, said the decision to put together a show showcasing Hindi film hits from the 60s through to the 80s, was based on the success of a similar event in 1995.

"We did this at the Suva Civic Centre that year and the show was a sellout because for a very small fee, movie goers and romantics can hear all their favourite songs in one show.

"The show will take patrons on a musical journey with songs by Hindi music greats like Kishore Kumar, Mohammed Rafiq and Lata Mangeshkar."

Managing director of Procera Music Mohammed Akeef, who also manages the group, says he got involved in the project because there was a vacuum in the market for live Hindi music.

"People want to hear the old hits but they also want to hear a new version of the songs that mean something to them," Akeef said.

"This music takes people back to their childhood or to a special moment in their life and I just thought it would be a great idea to revive a group that was very popular in the past at delivering songs that are hardly played today by a live band.

"To my knowledge, apart from Jimmy Subhaydas' recent return to the music scene, there are not many Hindi music groups around that do full-on shows like this. In the 80s and 90s, the Hindi live music scene was booming.

"Apart from His Masters Orchestra, there were groups like the Melody Makers and Jugnus Orchestra.

"There is a huge difference between bands that perform at gigs like weddings and nightclubs and the groups that hold shows.

"His Masters Orchestra have been at the forefront of Hindi show business since the 80s and I would like to urge people to come out on Sunday and listen, watch and appreciate a professional show done by people who have a real passion for live music."

For the youngest member of the group, Anusha Amin, performing alongside the elder statesmen of local Hindi music is a dream come true.

"I come from a musical family, my father Anandilal Amin is a well-known musician in Ba and I grew up listening to the old classics," the 20-year-old University of the South Pacific student shared.

"Because I grew up listening to and appreciating these old songs, I developed a passion for sharing this with my generation and the younger audiences out there. So being a member of His Masters Orchestra gives me a platform to do this and I am very proud of the show that we're going to deliver on Sunday."

His Masters Orchestra returns to the sound stage in the country on Sunday after more than two decades in hibernation, however, the band has continued in various forms around the world courtesy of former founding members who live in the United States and Australia.

"Mahendra Nair has a band in the US with the same name and Veer Chand uses the name for his band that does performances around Australia," said keyboardist Shankar.

The Fiji version of the renowned Hindi band that will perform on Sunday includes — male vocalists Dhruv Morris, Vikash Reddy, Rajesh Chand and Simon Kumar. The female singers are Anusha Amin and Harsha Mithal. Sanjay Ram will sit behind the drums, Atish Prasad will feature on the bass guitar and Emmanuel Prasad on percussion via the Octapad.

Kritil Kumar will play dholak and former bassist Shyam Kumar takes on lead guitar duties.

Ravi Shankar and Albert Prasad are the two keyboard players in the group.

His Masters Orchestra's Purani Yaadein kicks off at 7pm at the Suva Civic Centre this Sunday June 22.

Tickets for the show are on sale at Procera Music outlets and at Harifam Centre in Suva.

Organisers are looking at taking the three-hour long show to the Western and Northern divisions soon.