An additional sound resonated in the background as I walked past Capital Cinema. It wasn’t the usual cacophony of passing traffic or the buzz from the evening commuters walking to the station or even from the bunch of Jhunka Bharkar stalls that line the street peddling everything from Vada-pavs to Indian Chinese. What is that sound? Can it be music I thought to myself in disbelief. Walking towards Azad Maidan the sound became more distinct till my eyes confirmed it, yes music it is. The Giant dustbowl that is Azad Maidan, which is usually inhabited by hawkers, stray dogs and cricket enthusiasts, was converted (a part of it at least) into a stage with lights and everything.
Even though my ears were throbbing and the bass was slightly on the higher side the music was enjoyable. If you’re wondering , the Pakistani Rock Star Ali Azmat was playing. If you have not heard of Ali Azmat, he is the lead singer of the well known Paki rock band Junoon. Songs like “Sayonee" got automatic lip service from the crowd. Speaking of the crowd they where divided in two distinct types 1 - who stood at the front and knew all the lyrics to the all songs and made strange hand gestures in the air and 2 - curious public who just wanted a piece of the action. Oh I love free concerts.
Come 8:30 and the Ali Azmat gave way to Alms for Shanti.
“A mix of Hindi, English and allot of Gibberish in between”, is what they promised and what we got was a lot of fast paced fusion rock, a sound I came to enjoy. They started off with well more a chant than a song, ‘Aum Namah Shivay’[mp3 link], Sridar Parthasarathy on the Mridangam made all the difference setting the piece apart. The high point of the entire event was the solo by the percussionist Taufiq Qureshi. He conjured up a brilliant rendition of what he described as - “Two star-crossed lovers talking which turns to bickering in an increased crescendo till of course the girl wins and the boy drives of to the Kala Ghoda Festival on his motor-cycle.” All this expressed with drums, tablas and vocal percussion - absolutely brilliant.
‘Circular spotlights spiral downwards as the percussion intensifies, The light turn red giving colour to the dry ice vapours as they ascend upwards against it. A lone Ghungru pierces the crescendo at every beat until all is momentarily paused to a cry of jubilation from the crowd. The music starts off from where it left off ’
As we approached the 10p.m BMC deadline - Alms for Shanti belted out thier most popular track - “Kashmakash”
Here give it a listen.
10 p.m came and the crowd dispersed leaving the dusty Azad Maidan with a little more cigarette butts and empty sachets of Goa1000 supari scattered all around.