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.