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Runa Laila casts a magic spell
by Sudha Jagannathan
Wednesday, 30 November , 2005, 17:19
Last Updated: Tuesday, 06 December , 2005, 12:36

Courtesy Mother Nature, it rained heavily in Chennai. Thanks to the singing sensation from Bangaladesh, it rained music at Kamarajar Arangam. On this rain-drenched evening, Runa Laila mesmerized the audience into captivity with her telling numbers from across assorted categories of music. In the end, Runa Laila and her band of musicians got a standing ovation – that lasted a long while - from a highly involved cosmopolitan audience.

After several summers, Runa Laila returned to the city of Chennai to give a concert on the final day of The Hindu Friday Review Fest on November 25, 2005. It was a fitting finale to the maiden attempt of the English morning paper. The Bangaladeshi singer had indeed brought the message of love for everyone from her country as she had announced before the break.

The singer straight away set the stage for an enlivening evening by instantly striking a rapport with the large audience. It was evident all through the twin session. When she sang the enticing film number “De De Pyar De”, the audience went into a daze. The song was taken out of her album and introduced in a film starred by Amitabh Bacchan. As she sang the song, she descended from the stage and merged into the excited audience. Amidst intermittent jostle, many in the audience tried to reach their hands out to her. As the excitement reached a crescendo, a tremendous applause rented the Kamarajar Arangam.

When she sang a Punjabi song in honour of the Governor of Tamil Nadu, Mr.Surjeet Singh Barnala, she even egged him to join her in claps. She began the concert with a Bengali folk song. It wasn’t a surprise, though. It was a good beginning to a grand finale. As she proceeded to sing a Ghazal, the audience demanded some popular numbers. She was both surprised and thrilled. Surprised because she expected the concert to be serious. Thrilled because the audience demanded some popular songs. Nevertheless, she went on to sing a few ghazals like “Ranjish hi Sahi” composed by Faiz Khan and “Baat Karni Mujhe Muskil” by Bahadur Shah Zafar. It was a controlled exercise in ghazal-singing. Unlike the Traditional musicians, Runa Laila rendered them standing and holding the mike. It must have been a tough exercise to do this way.

She also sang “'Mera babu chail chabila mein to naachoon gee”. She also sang a number each from The Loves of Runa Laila and Super Runa. These albums were recorded in a London studio. The audience, in an ecstatic mood, was very thrilled and betrayed its excitement with a thunderous applause. When the show recommenced after a break, she sang a bhajan on Lord Krishna. Music knows no religion. And, Runa Laila revealed it when she rendered the bhajan in bakthi-soaked way. It was wonderfully melodious. She said she loved the song so much.

She also took up the songs “Tum aye ho na shab-e-intazar guzri hai ...” & Gulon main rang bhare bad-e-naubahar chale ... “her hit numbers. As her wont, she took up a Sindhi song at the request of a rasika and presented it elegantly with her inimitable charm.

She drew the curtain down on the day’s show and Hindu Friday Review Fest with the popular “Dama Dam Mast Kalander”. Runa Laila brought it to a dramatic close as she reached the upper octave and stayed there for a long while before terminating.

The capacity audience paid its salute to the sensational singer by giving her a standing ovation. Jahangir Hayat Khan on the keyboard, Mohammed Sadeque Ali on Octopad and Milan Bhattacharjee on Tabla accompanied her. Fouad Naseer on Guitar were working with her for a long time and had come with Laila to India.

Their playing the instruments was absolutely splendid.

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