What do you get when you mix a pinch of humor with a dash of charm, add two singing legends and a generous helping of Bollywood hits, and marinate it all for three hours? — An evening of melodious entertainment from award-winning playback singers Alka Yagnik and Udit Narayan.
Presented by AAA Entertainment and Jai Entertainment, the sold-out concert was held at the Chabot College of Performing Arts here on the evening of May 2. Fans in Southern California got to experience the duo’s musical magic during their sold-out May 3 show, presented by the Shah Foundation, at the Jordan High School Auditorium in Long Beach.
As the band played an instrumental medley of classics like “Papa Kehte Hai” and “Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai,” whetting the audience’s anticipation to see and hear the singing stars live, Narayan’s wife Deepa Narayan Jha strode onstage and opened the evening with a pleasant rendition of “Lag Jaa Gale,” followed by the hip-shaking item number “Chikni Chameli.”
RJ Sunny Moza of Radio Zindagi then proceeded to kick off the show with an energetic introduction to songstress Yagnik and her many accolades.
As the first few lines — “Tum paas aaye …” — flowed through the auditorium, the audience twisted desperately in their seats to figure out where the crystal-clear voice was coming from. Finally, Yagnik was spotted making her way through the aisles and then onstage, while picking up the tempo of the popular “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai” song.
“Hello San Francisco, how are you? It’s a great feeling to see a packed house. We’ve come from very far just to see all of you music lovers,” said Yagnik to the excited crowd.
Wearing a traditional purple and blue outfit, the effervescent Yagnik delighted the audience with her sense of humor as she joked about a husband and wife sitting in separate rows and even shared shayari about marriage.
With a treasure trove of more than13,000 songs over a career spanning three decades, Yagnik had to choose some of her most popular numbers to perform in the limited time, like “Gazab Ka Hai Din” from Aamir Khan and Juhi Chawla-starrer “Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak,” the sweet “Gali Mein Aaj Chand Nikla” from “Zakham,” and peppy dance number “Aaja Ve Mahi Let’s Do Balle Balle” from “Fida.”
She also entertained the audience with a medley of some all-time Yagnik favorites, such as “Chamma Chamma,” “Dekha Hai Pehli Baar” from “Saajan” and the sensual “Suraj Hua Madham.”
Yagnik, 48, began her singing career at the tender age of 14 with the hit “Mere Angne Mein” from 1981 Amitabh Bachchan-starrer “Laawaris,” followed by her first solo number in the 1982 film coincidentally titled “Hamari Bahu Alka.” In 1988 came the smash-hit “Ek Do Teen,” which catapulted her Bollywood career. Yagnik has to her name seven Filmfare Awards among a record 35 nominations.
At several points during the evening, the singer was interrupted by chants of “Mohini, Mohini,” clearly the most awaited number of the night, from the audience in unison, to which she replied, “Please be patient, ‘Mohini’ is on the way.”
The classically trained Yagnik also treated listeners to a seamless fusion of two of hers songs — “Ringa Ringa” from “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Choli Ke Peeche” from “Khalnayak,” and dedicated the track “Bole Chudiya” to national promoter Sanjib Shaw of Showbiz Entertainment.
And indeed, Yagnik did not disappoint when she at last performed her chartbusting number “Ek Do Teen” from Madhuri Dixit-starrer “Tezaab” while interacting with the crowd.
Yagnik and Narayan are on an eight-city United States tour that includes Boston, Dallas, New Jersey, Houston and Washington D.C.
“Alka and Udit performed in the Bay Area almost four years back. There are lots of people in the Bay Area who love songs from the ‘90s. The moment we heard that Alka and Udit are coming to the U.S. to perform, we booked well in advance,” organizer Neeraj Dhar of AAA Entertainment told India-West.
Both singers boast illustrious musical careers, with Narayan having sung for the top leading men of Bollywood, including Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar, Sunny Deol and the three Khans — Aamir, Shah Rukh and Salman, over the last three decades.
Emcee Moza described Narayan as a “humble artist with an amazing sense of humor,” who has sung over 18,000 songs in more than 45 languages and among his collection of awards, won the Padma Shri in 2009, three National Awards and countless Filmfare Awards.
The evergreen Narayan, 58, bounced onstage in an all-white ensemble amid thunderous applause as he sang the hugely popular “Papa Kehte Hai” from the 1996 film of the same name.
With his unwavering smile, Narayan entertained with numbers like “Jaadu Teri Nazar” from Shah Rukh Khan-starrer “Darr,” “Pehla Nasha” and “Tu Cheez Badi Hai Mast Mast” from “Mohra.”
“I love you all, beautiful San Francisco … I’ve come all the way from India to entertain you all,” said the dashing Narayan, who charmed the ladies with his spontaneous throw-kisses and unique dance moves.
Shrill whistles greeted the first few notes of “Tere Naam” from the Salman Khan movie of the same name and the audience swayed to his soothing voice as Narayan sang “Ae Mere Humsafar” from “Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak.”
As he began the first few buoyant notes of “Khaike Paan” from “Don,” Narayan paused and said, “My musicians are very much in the mood!” and went on to introduce the band members.
The “prince of playback singing,” as Lata Mangeshkar calls him, also presented a duet with his wife Deepa to “Raadha” from “Student of the Year” and concluded the first half of the concert with the upbeat “Main Nikla Gaddi Leke” from “Gaddar.”
Post a brief intermission and a costume change, Yagnik and Narayan closed the evening with duets, including the romantic “Chand Chupa Badal Mein” from “Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam,” “Mere Mehboob” from “Duplicate” and the cheerful college song “Koi Mil Gaya” from “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai,” for which they walked around the stage holding hands.
While Yagnik’s signature silky tresses glistened under the stage lights, Narayan paused several times during the show to whip out a comb and fix his hair, much to the audience’s surprise. At one point, the spontaneous Narayan even grabbed Yagnik and planted a kiss on her cheek.
The artists, who have been singing together for over 25 years, displayed an understanding and comfort level as performers as they thrilled the audience with their playful onstage antics and stellar vocals.
As the concert came to an end, Yagnik and Narayan promised their fans that they would return to the Bay Area every year.