Thursday, August 20, 2009

When veteran relives his youth

Manohar Majithia, 67, is the eldest member of the Harmonica Club of Gujarat. Before he joined the club, he had cut a CD in a professional sound recording studio. However, after he heard some of the players perform in a public park in Ahmedabad, he realised that he needed a lot of improvement. First of all, he had to change his instrument, the Chinese make 'Hero', to a chromatic one. After he bought Chromonica 280 from M Hohner, Germany, Majithia started practicing rigorously.

He has acute respiratory problem and runs out of breath while playing. However, this did not deter him from playing. Whenever, the club decides to stage a public performance he is among the first to enlist. So enthusiastic he is that he submits a list of 4-6 songs that he wants to play at the public function.

Here he presents one of the oldest number sung by Lata Mangeshkar:

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Manohar Vaidya: Master of Melody

Manohar Vaidya has been playing mouth organ for over 50 years now, without break. In his earlier years, he had learned violin. He also plays keyboard without even looking at the keys. He is known for detailing. Members of the Harmonica Club of Gujarat are fortunate to have him as their guru who is ever ready to help everyone. The club is incomplete without him. You name a song, and Vaidyaji would play it to perfection.

Here is a masterpiece from him:

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Genext is Promising: Aditya

When mouth organ maestro Madan Kumar visited the Harmonica Club of Gujarat on last 'Friendship Day' he was thrilled to listen to young Aditya play mouth organ. "It is for the young generation to promote this lovely instrument now," he said.

Aditya plays here a popular number from the film Kashmir Ki Kali. The music is by OP Nayyar.

Our Sunday Practice

Members of Harmonica Club of Gujarat have been playing in a public garden every Sunday ever since the club was formed more than a year ago. Here are a few recordings of the August 16,2009 practice session.

1. Lakho Hain yahan dilwaale

2. Yaad Kiya Dil Ne Kaha Ho Tum

Friday, August 14, 2009

Jo Shaheed Huye Hain Unki Jara Yaad Karo Qurbani

For the Independence Day, Devansh Shah played this immensely popular patriotic song which had made India's first Prime Minister Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru cry while listening to Lata Mangeshkar singing it. The song was composed by C Ramachandra and the lyrics were by Pradeep.

Devansh has been learning harmonica from Paresh Bhatia, who teaches music to school children in Ahmedabad. For this Independence Day special, Paresh Bhatia accompanied Devansh on bongos.

Old is Gold

Apoorva Bhatt was not even born when blockbuster black and white bollywood film 'Goonj Uthi Shehnai' was released in 1959. Starring Rajendra Kumar and Amita, the film became a hit primarily because of its lilting songs.

The music director was Vasant Desai, who used the Indian classical musical instrument Shehnai so successfully that the background scores became tear jerkers. The king of playback singing, Mohammed Rafi's mellifluous voice made the film's songs immortal.

We first present here the haunting song - 'Keh do koyi na kare yahan pyaar' - in Rafi Sahab's voice. We will then present the same song's rendition on mouth organ by Apoorva Bhatt.

And, now Apoorva Bhatt on harmonica playing the song 50 years after the release of the film:

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Nostalgia - IV: Madan Kumar

Baar Baar Dekho Hazaar Baar Dekho Ye Dekhne Ki Cheez Hai Humaara Dilruba.

Yes, those who had the privilege of listening to Madan Kumar performing live in Ahmedabad at an informal gathering want to hear him play all the time.

"One needs to get into the spirit of the original song to be able to play it on the mouth organ in such a way that the feeling comes out naturally," he said.

We present here a fast number played by him which had rocked the bollywood in the 1960s:

Friday, August 7, 2009


Music director duo Laxmikant-Pyarelal attained instant popularity with the film 'Dosti' in the early 1960s. The film was about two boys - one a lame and another blind. The lame played harmonica while the blind sang. The music touched the soul of millions who could not stop their tears.

"As a child, I had a friend who sang while I played harmonica. Though neither of us had any physical disability, people in Pune referred to us as 'Here go the langda and andha'. Dosti had become our identity," says Madan Kumar, the mouth organ maestro recalling his childhood days.

Here is the song from the film 'Dosti', which Madan Kumar played before a select gathering of members of the Harmonica Club of Gujarat in Ahmedabad.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Nostalgia - II

Madan Kumar believes in exploring and experimenting with all possible techniques - tonguing, vamping, bending, chording - of playing harmonica. "There is no fun if you play harmonica in single reeds. What is then the difference between playing a harmonica and playing say a flute?" he asks.

He also believes in innovation and improvisation. "One need not necessarily copy the exact tune of a song composed by someone else for a film. One can always make improvisation," he says. When he plays, the full impact of this tiny musical instrument is felt as if a full-fledged orchestra is accompanying his harmonica.

Enjoy one such number:

Madan Kumar Live: Nostalgia

The Gujarat Harmonica Club had the privilege of seeing mouth organ maestro Madan Kumar perform live before a select gathering in Ahmedabad on August 4. He was in his elements and so were the audience who included harmonica players of varied experience.

We all gathered at Bansi Gajjar's home around 9 p.m. After a round of chit-chat, we requested Madan Kumar to play some numbers for us. "Let me start with my all-time favourite song which always triggers off nostalgic memories," he said.

Here is the song - Yaad Kiya Dil Ne Kaha Ho Tum:

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Mouth Organ Maestro Madan Kumar

It was world friendship day. Also a Sunday when members of the Harmonica Club of Gujarat assemble in a public park in the morning to practice and play.

"Madan Kumar is in Ahmedabad." This was Ramakrishna Sabnavees on the telephone. He had called up me and Tapan Bhatt to wish us on friendship day.

Tapan grabbed the opportunity that had come the way of the club and informed Sandeep Patankar to bring along Madan Kumar to the park.

Excitement ran high among the club members as the word spread that the doyen of harmonica was on his way to the park. Members surrounded Madan Kumar with the plea to play a few numbers. "I have heard so much about your club. First, please play all of you, one by one. I want to hear you," said Madan Kumar. So ernest was his request that the club members suppressed their desire to listen to the mouth organ maestro live and asked Aditya, the 12-year-old youngest member of the club to play a few numbers.

"It is Aditya's generation which will bring back the art of playing mouth organ into the mainstream of performing arts. I am glad to see that boys like Aditya are so passionate about mouth organ," said a beaming Madan Kumar.

"I too had picked up mouth organ when I was seven-year-old. It was 'Echo' from M Hohner, Germany, which my elder brother had brought home one day but would not allow me to touch. However, he forgot to take with him the instrument when he left for work. So I grabbed the piece and started playing to my heart's content. Since then, mouth organ became a part of me," said Madan Kumar, recalling his childhood days.

Over the next 60 years, Madan Kumar and mouth organ became synonymous. The HMV brought out more than a dozen of his records and noted music directors like Laxmikant Pyarelal and Khayyam have made him play romantic numbers for their films.

Nowadays, Madan Kumar teaches children in Pune.

The Harmonica Club of Gujarat could not resist its greed of listening to Madan Kumar live. Club trustee Bansi Gajjar called him over to his residence to spend an entire evening with the club members. We will be bringing you Madan Kumar live through rare videos on this blog.