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Shuba Mudgal Serves A Mixed Treat
She was there at the first edition of The Hindu Friday Review November Festival (in 2005) to regale the audience at Kamarajar Auditorium with some lovely classical numbers. Not surprisingly, there was quite an expectation, as eager fans thronged the Music Academy to listen to her `high voltage' music on the final day of The Hindu Friday Review Festival 2008 on the evening of 23rd November. The Academy was full even before the start of the concert. And, Shuba Mudgal was on the stage with "Koshish", a musical ensemble featuring some of the best names in their respective fields. Well, Shuba Mudgal flattered in the first session only to falter in the second-half.

She began well. Her voice was rich. And, the music was verdant. Shuba presented some impacting numbers with her vibrant voice. Most of the compositions she chose for the evening were tuned by Aneesh Pradhan, who played the tabla. 'Koshish' is an attempt to engage students learning different forms of music into a dialogue. It was a good effort, one must say. Team Koshish on this day comprised Aneesh Pradhan (tabla), Sameer Chiplunkar (keyboard), Murad Ali (sarangi), Colin D'Cruz (bass guitar) and Pratap Rath (percussion).

Shuba started the evening with a Tarana. She sang "Tu Meri Saaya Hai", a composition of poet Dharani Das from Bihar. She took up a ghazal "Na socha na samja" with a crisp alaap from Murad Ali on the sarangi.The romantic ``Kal Ki Raath Giri thi Sabnam' composed by versatile poet Gulzar, flowed beautifully, as she brought out the mood of the song with expressive melody. A melancholy ghazal "Hum Ke Tehre Ajnabi Itni Madaraton Ke Baad" of Faiz Ahmed Faiz saw her change gear and tempo. "Khoon Ke Dabbe dulenge kitne baarishon ke baad ." The poet wondered how many monsoons it would take to wipe off those blood stains (which were caused during the Bangladesh conflicts). 'Sathiyoon' is an emotional nasm from Sahir Ludhianvi, who lost his mother during the partition. Shuba sang this with so much involvement, brining out the underlying pain with her subtle music and clear diction. Well, it was vintage Shuba in the first-half.

Post-break, Shuba returned to the stage to present some Indi-pop numbers from her famous albums. She began the final session with 'Savariyan' from the album "Ali More Angana". She then sang the romantic "Seekho Na Nainon Ki Bhasha Piya" with quite an enthusiasm.

"Mati," a song from the album "Mann Ki Manjire,' went down well with the audience. Composed by Prasoon Joshi, this album focused on women's aspirations. This particular song dwelt on a village woman with mud-stained hands and sweat on her brow after a hard day's work in the field. She also presented "Dere Dere," a rocking number, from the album Ab Ke Saawan.

Though the theme and the compositions were well chosen for the occasion, she struggled to strike a rapport with the audience in the second-half. She deployed pre-recorded music for songs such as ``Ayo Re Maro Dholna''. Pre-recorded music in a live concert! It was unthinkable for the rasikas. And, it is unimaginable in a venerable venue like the Music Academy. In a closed auditorium, the pre-recorded music inflicted negative vibes on the listeners. Perhaps she did so to ensure that the audience got the same experience as they would have got by listening to the original album. Since some of the musicians who sang for the album could not accompany her for the evening concert, she chose to use the pre-recorded music in select duet songs.

Someone among the audience wished to hear a few original numbers from her albums. The insertion of pre-recorded music, albeit sparingly, did cause some confusion. The audience was quite perplexed to see an artiste of her stature use pre-recorded music in her concert. She finally ended her concert with a song from 'Ab Ke Sawan'. The song - "Bhai re riston ki dagar hai mushkil" - is about the fragile relationship. It is composed by Prasoon Joshi. Shantanu Moitra had tuned the music for the song.

Her concert for this edition of November Fest was quite in contrast to the one she gave for the maiden edition three summers ago at the Kamaraj Auditorium. She was at her best then and presented a rich Hindustani classical music. And, the audience was riveted to its seat as she presented a beautiful khayal composition in Shree Rag. Her ragamalika piece comprising Hamir, Basant, Poorvi, Sohni and Shankara was outstanding.