May 2007

Bollywood Fever
presented by Small World Music and the Monayr Asha Aid Foundation
May 3, 2007Lula LoungeToronto
An Exotic Evening
by Tony Shivpershad with photos by Roger Humbert
Lady Lula always looks good, but this night she is dressed to the nines. She is set to host the Lula World festival, a three week celebration that marks the club’s 5th anniversary. For this auspicious occasion, Lula Lounge has left no detail overlooked; there is beautiful drapery hung on the stage wall, runners of fabric looped along the railings, a large red Chinese round lantern hung over the entrance, and a fresh coat of varnish on the floor.

The kick-off of Lula World is Bollywood Fever Take II, a star-studded fund-raiser to support the Monayr Asha Aid Foundation (MAAF). The MAAF is doing important work to bring hope and happiness to children in some of the poorest areas of the globe. With one hundred percent of the proceeds going towards the charity, a wonderful crowd came out to support the worthwhile cause.

The show began as the audience were finishing off their scrumptious dinners. Host Heena Kanabar welcomed the crowd on behalf of the MAAF, emcee Louwyn Rodrigues put smiles on their faces with his humour and CBC Radio personality Garvia Bailey spoke of the print that Bollywood has left on her life.

Then Gurpreet Channa, percussionist extraordinaire, took the stage; on his lap, a black object looking like a small UFO, or a large wok. In fact, it was a drum known as a hang. Channa struck it slowly, repeatedly, striking out a melody with his palms, later adding a percussion sound with the same instrument as his hands circled the hang. It sounded like a steel pan, only sweeter, ethereal and simultaneously breathtaking.

Gurpreet Channa
The feeling continued when the other members of the Masala Mixers joined Channa on stage. Vocalist and former Canadian Idol contestant Devika Mathur emitted Asha Bhosle-like harmonies. Vocally it was a traditional Hindu prayer. That twisted when bassist Mark Cashion thumped out a house-like bass line and Adrean Farrugia added a subtle flavour of keyboard. The many layers, textures, and tastes coming together like a true masala only increased when Noman Siddiqui added his sitar-sounding synthesizer guitar samples. Channa replaced his hang with the more traditional tabla and saxophone virtuoso Sundar Viswanathan exchanged runs on his instrument with Mathur’s vocals. The combination was intoxicating.

Crowd participation was encouraged for the next song. Mathur taught the audience their part of the chorus, singing “Maste Mast”, before launching into a Bollywood movie favourite. A highlight would come when Mathur took it old school, performing a rendition of "Laila O Laila", from the 1981 classic Indian movie, Qurbani. The fusion of Indian music and jazz by the Masala Mixers was stirring.

Next on the menu was Puja Amin leading her troupe of Sanskriti Arts dancers through several songs. The entire hall darkened, lit by a sole spotlight, as the gorgeous young women effused intricate choreographies among the dramatic lighting.

The dinner plates were cleared by the time the TC Raas Band took the stage, signalling to the crowd that it was time to hit the dance floor. The four-piece band had the crowd working off their meals with an endless medley of Bollywood movie dance music. With only a keyboard, an electronic drum set and two vocalists, the band was able to produce renditions of the hit songs that were very true to the originals.

The band made sure the crowd was good and warmed-up when they hit with trumps in the middle of the set with the popular, "Pya Tu", followed up by the infectious African traditional, "Malaika". The crowd worked up a good sweat, moving to the seamless medley of songs, with some dancers even joining the band on the stage.

Heena Kanabar thanked the crowd once again for coming out to support the MAAF and promised that all proceeds of the evening would immediately be forwarded to Bangladesh where it was badly needed. DJ Medicineman capped off the exotic evening. The popular host of CIUT 89.5 FM’s No Man’s Land program played a bevy of tracks until the audience’s appetite was quenched and they spilled out of Lula Lounge.

A member of Sanskriti Arts
> >
We welcome your comments and feedback
Tony Shivpershad
• • • • • •
Roger Humbert
• •
The Live Music Report

| Home | Archives | CD Reviews | Photo Galleries | Concert Listings | Contact |

Please contact us to secure permission for use of any material found on this website.
© The Live Music Report – 2007