SAN JOSE, Calif. — This was a concert that the San Francisco Bay Area fans will remember for a long time. Held April 21 at San Jose State University here, the music concert, headlined by renowned Indian musician Pritam, had all the essential ingredients needed for a musical extravaganza.
Flanked by an impressive 50-piece orchestra, which also included a great gospel choir, Pritam and his equally talented team of eight young singers – Sreerama Chandra, Antara Mishra, Shalmali Kholgade, Nakash Aziz, Amit Mishra, Harshdeep Kaur, Shilpa Rao and Amanat Ali – made sure every single attendee in the house was forced to shake a leg.
In the midst of the flickering colorful lights and smoke, state-of-the-art music, and numerous costume changes, one thing remained constant throughout the three-hour-long event: the singers’ vocal virtuosity and mesmerizing stage presence.
The show was brought to San Jose by Bikram Jeet Singh of Bollywood Events and Ray Sharma and Pardeep Sharma of Desi Entertainment in association with Kalalaya USA and Shehnai Bridal Boutique. Karl Kalra was the national promoter of the tour.
Kholgade jump-started the evening with “Crazy Kiya Re” from the 2004 film, “Dhoom,” and the rest of the singers followed her in quick succession by appearing in aisles throughout the arena and getting the crowds all riled up with snippets from Pritam’s illustrious music career.
That was enough to whet the audience’s curiosity.
The craning of the necks stopped, and loud cheers and whistles took over the hall once Pritam took the stage strumming his guitar and singing his blockbuster, “Ilahi Mera Ji Aaye Aaye,” from the movie, “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil.”
At the outset, Pritam thanked his fans for showing up to the event. He went on to share his overall journey and career in a brief talk, highlighting that “during his bad days…what kept me going through this 20-year-journey is your love and your faith for me and my songs.”
“I am what I am only because of you,” he told the eager crowd.
Pritam Chakraborty, better known by the mononym Pritam, is a graduate of the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune. He composed jingles for various brands and title tracks for TV shows before gaining national recognition with “Dhoom.” The music director/composer/singer’s diverse repertoire includes work in films like “Ye Jawaani Hai Deewani,” “Bajrangi Bhaijaan,” “Jab We Met,” “Jagga Jasoos,” “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” and “Dangal.”
The rest of the singers then joined Pritam on stage to deliver hits from one of his recent releases, “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” and “Bulleya.”
A costume change later, Pritam, in a hat and a cardigan reminiscent of Ranbir Kapoor in “Barfi!” owned the stage when he rendered the title track of the 2012 film.
Shilpa Rao came in next to sing two of Pritam’s favorite ghazals: “Ranjish E Ishq” and “Aaj Jaane Ki Zid Na Karo.” And it turned out these were the audience’s favorite, too, as they sang along to every word. Rao also presented Pritam’s original composition of the “Dhoom” song, “Kamli,” another number that received thunderous applause.
Antara Mishra, who has lent her voice to a few songs in Shah Rukh Khan’s “Dilwale,” went on to perform the film’s biggest chartbuster, “Gerua.”
Harshdeep Kaur, known for her Sufiana style of singing, showcased her immense talent when she sang “Jugni Ji.”
Audiences constantly cheered them on as the singers came on stage in pairs. Some of the other songs that the talented singers sang with Pritam included “Kabeera,” “Pee Loon,” “Baatein Kuch Ankahee Si” and “Tu Jaane Na.”
The singers, in pitch-perfect coordination, kept the audience engaged throughout, sometimes by sitting on the edge of the stage and at other times resorting to funky dance moves.
Among the clear standout performances of the evening was the presentation of “Nagada Nagada” from “Jab We Met,” which was a fusion of Punjabi folk music and flamenco. The entire venue was transformed into a fiesta by the upbeat tempo of the song and literally everyone had a hard time keeping calm. Many fans danced joyously and quite a few stood up through most of the performance.
Among the other highlights was a peppy dance-cum-music presentation by Chandra and Kholgade, a classical duet by Chandra and Antara Mishra, a rendition of “Bulleya” by Amit Mishra, and the rendition of the title track of “Dangal” by Nakash Ali, Chandra, Amit Mishra and Pritam.
“They have individually together worked hard so it looks like one show,” Pritam had stated in a pre-event press conference. And that reflected in the show as the singers did justice not just to their songs but every song that they chose to present.
Towards the end of the high-octane concert, Pritam and team paid a heartfelt tribute to the legends that Bollywood lost in the last year. Nakash Ali and Antara Mitra brought Shashi Kapoor, Vinod Khanna and Sridevi’s memories to life by singing “Kabhie Kabhie Mere Dil Mein,” “Jab Koi Baat Bigad Jaaye” and “Ae Zindagi Gale Laga Ja” as a montage of the actors splashed on the screen behind them. They capped off this section with “Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai.”
The singers rounded out the show, which was part of Pritam’s two-week multi-city tour of North America, by pulling out more gems from his musical career. Loud claps and cheers ensued once again as Pritam bid goodbye with the soulful, “Acha Chalta Hoon.”
The sponsors of the local show included Pankaj Thakkar of Gold Palace Jewelers, Amy Thakkar Vora of Shehnai Bridal Boutique, and Sammy Bhardwaj and Pardeep Sharma of Aria Dining and Banquets.