LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Sankara Eye Foundation, a philanthropic organization headquartered in Silicon Valley, presented one of their biggest fundraisers in the form of an enthralling concert by Shreya Ghoshal at the Microsoft Theater here Aug. 27.
The event, attended largely by Indian Americans, was sponsored by the Bank of the West. The proceeds of the show will go towards the ‘Focus Mumbai’ project, a hospital being built in Panvel, Mumbai, in conjunction with the Jhunjhunwala Foundation.
Speaking to India-West, Murali Krishnamurthy, founder and executive chairman of the non-profit organization, highlighted the uniqueness of SEF, and how what they are doing is benefitting thousands of families in India.
SEF, which was established 18 years, has been working towards eradicating curable blindness in India. An impressive 80:20 free to paid patients ratio defines their working model and they have so far successfully completed more than 1.6 million surgeries. Charity Navigator has given the organization top rating for its commitment to accountability, and transparency.
The musical night titled, “Shreya Ghoshal Live with Symphony,” was a beautiful confluence of the global singing sensation’s favorite melodious songs which she called as “Straight From My Heart.” Ghoshal was accompanied by 35 of the most talented musicians handpicked from the music industry in India.
The show, which started on time, turned out to be a grand musical extravaganza for her loyal fans who had come out in great numbers and filled the theater to near capacity.
Kinjal Chattopadhay, a young talent from the Bengali version of “Sa Re Ga Ma Pa,” kicked off the show by singing two beautiful Mohammad Rafi hits, “Abhi Na Jao Chod Ke” and “Ehsan Tera Hoga Mujh Par,” and ended it with “Chanda Mereya.”
As the symphony set the stage by playing Ghoshal’s hits, emcee Gurdeep Brar welcomed the singing sensation on stage by saying, “What you will be experiencing today will be nothing less than magical with the greatest musical extravaganza by the reigning queen of Bollywood music.”
Ghoshal glided onto the stage looking resplendent in a glittery flowing white gown with cascading curly hair and singing the melodious “Roz Sham Aathi thi Magar Aisi Na Thi” to a thunderous applause by the audience.
She greeted the audience by saying she has performed in Los Angeles many times, but this is the first time that she has come with a huge orchestra. Teasing the audience, she said she will sing songs full of romance, emotions, love, and fun, including heartbreak, and all they have to do is to clap. She followed it up with Lata Mangeshkar’s evergreen song, “Kya Jaanu Sanam,” and her own, “Nazar Jo Teri Laagi Mein Deewani Ban Gayi” and “Bahara Bahara,” all the while coaxing the audience to clap loudly for her and the magnificent symphony orchestra.
Paying tribute to music directors from the south and other states of India for their contributions to the Indian music industry, she presented songs like “Chup Ke Se,” “Yeh Zindagi Gale Laaga Ja,” and the melodious “Saas Mein Teri Saas Mile Toh.”
By calling her musical icon Mangeshkar as the personification of Goddess Sarawathi of music, she presented Mangeshkar’s golden hits with the music director duo LakshmiKant Pyarelal, “Toot Ke Dil Tukde Tukde,” “Mein Teri Ishq Mein,” “Bahon Mein Chale Aao,” and “Tere Bina Jiya Jaaye Na,” while the video clips of the songs played on the big screen behind her.
She then switched tracks by singing her own hit, “Manwa Laage, Laage Re Saawre.” She goaded the audience to dance in their seats as she sang the Marathi influenced “Pinga” from “Bajirao Mastani.” Moving on to the rain dance song, she sang “Barso Re Megha” and a Gujarati song, “Morbani Ghat,” and ended the segment with the zesty song, “Nagada Sung Dol Bhaje.”
She invited the national promoters from Balaji Entertainment onto the stage and introduced them to the audience by saying they are responsible for her innumerable shows in the U.S. A 3-minute video of SEF was played, introducing the audience to the tremendous work done by the Sankara hospitals making it the largest free eye care provider in the world.
The goal of SEF is to reach 300,000 eye surgeries every year. Chief guest of the event was Nandita Bakhshi, CEO of Bank of the West, who spoke briefly and reiterated their commitment to support SEF and thanked the audience for coming to the show in great numbers and caring for the blind in India.
Chattopadhay restarted the show with Sonu Nigam’s soulful signature song, “Abhi Mujh Mein Nahin,” and Arijit’s “Gerua” before Ghoshal came on stage looking beautiful in a white and red outfit singing the preppy number, “Zubi Doobi.” Spurring the audience’s excitement, she rendered Asha Bhonsle’s fun-filled songs, “Piya Tu Ab Toh Aa Ja” and “Dum Maro Dum.”
As Chattopadhay joined her to sing duets, she presented her evergreen hit, “Teri Meri, Meri Teri Prem Kahani Hai Mushkil,” “Shukranallah,” ‘Tere Mast Mast Do Nain” and “Piya Re O Re Piya.”
As they sang ‘Radha Teri Chunri,” the audience sprang to their feet dancing and clapping. She followed it up with the epic song, “Yeh Zindagi Usi Ki Hai.”
Recalling how she started her singing career in Bollywood with mentor Sanjay Leela Bhansali 15 years ago, she sang some of the super hits from the movie, “Devdas,” such as “Bairi Piya Badaa Bedardi,” “Silsila Yeh Pyar Ka’ and the duet song, “Dola Re.”
Displaying her humility, she told the audience that she never thought she would come this far in her musical career and thanked her family, her mentors and above all her fans for her success.
Thanking Sankara Eye Foundation, she ended her spectacular show with “Ik Pyar Ka Nagma Hai” and said, “the lyrics of this song are the epitome of the philosophy of life itself and if we adopt these words in our life then it is a life lived with purpose.”