Monday, September 3, 2007

Manohar Iyer – Keeping Vintage Music Alive

For the last ten years Andheri resident and musicologist Manohar Iyer is resurrecting rare and immortal vintage hindi film music with sheer passion, determination and unflinching devotion writes Rajesh Subramanian

He firmly believes that the charm of film songs of yore is eternal and will never lose its sheen. Four bungalow resident Manohar Iyer took up a mission in 1997 to ressurect and revive the golden period of film music ie. 1930's, 40’s, 50's and 60's. Driven purely by passion and a strange madness for melody Manohar formed a music troupe aptly called 'Keep Alive' with the help of some music loving friends. " In the mid 80's when the quality of hindi film songs started deteriorating with the sudden influx of disco music i seriously gave a thought as to what could be done to save melody and save vintage music. That's when the idea of starting a musical group started taking shape. But it was in 1997 that the dream transcended into reality", informs Iyer sitting in his office at Adarsh Nagar.

Interestingly Keep Alive, which started off as a small gathering comprising of 250 music lovers has ballooned into an enviable musical fraternity comprising of 4000 members in the last ten years. Apart from resurrecting rare as well as forgotten hindi film songs the group has also familiarised several music lovers of the present generation to the music of yore. " Thanks to Keep Alive it has introduced us to many vintage wonderful compositions. We just love humming them and have also won awards at inter college music competitions singing songs composed by Anil Biswas, Khemchand Prakash, Husanlal Bhagatram and S.D.Burman", quips 14 year old Devika Shinde. In the last ten years keep Alive has organised exclusive programmes featuring songs composed by doyens of Hindi film music like Anil Biswas, Khemchand prakash, Sham Sundar, Ghulam Haider, Naushad, Ghulam Mohammed, S.D.Burman, Husanlal Bhagatram, C.Ramchandra, Roshan, Shankar Jaikishan, Madan Mohan, Vasant Desai, Ravi, O P Nayyar, eminent writers like Sahir Ludhianvi, kavi Pradeep, Shailendra, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Rajinder Krishan, Shakeel Badaunvi, Qamar Jalalabadi and singers like K.L.Saigal, Lata Mangeshkar, Talat Mahmood, Suraiya, Mohammed Rafi, Kishore Kumar,Shamshad Begum, Geeta Dutt, Mukesh, Hemant Kumar and Manna Dey. The shows are theme based and the four hour long programme is presented by Manohar Iyer in a biographical format encapsulating the personality's entire career graph interspersed with nostalgic memories and interesting anecdotes. The songs are diligently performed on stage, after several rehearsals, by talented singers like Srikant Narayan, Gaurav Bangia, Sarita Rajesh , Vrushali Patil, Anand Bahal, Vinod Seshadiri and Priya Joshi.

If Keep Alive has emerged as an eye opener for the youngsters the elders have welcomed it with open arms. " For oldies like us it is a blessing in disguise in our otherwise mundane lives. The programmes are a nostalgic trip down memory lane and we enjoy every moment. ", says 82 year old C.M.Chokshi, the oldest member of Keep Alive. While Sreeram Manian of Calyon Bank adds " The shows are an enlightening experience and you take home not only wonderful memories but valuable musical information too ". Well known personalities like Dilip Kumar, Anil Biswas, Naushad, O P Nayyar, Khayyam, Kavi Pradeep, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Hasrat Jaipuri, Ameen Sayeen, Nadira, Manna Dey, Hrithik Roshan, Rajesh & Raakesh Roshan, Randhir Kapoor, Sitara Devi, Yash Chopra and Subhash Ghai have graced Keep Alive shows and boosted the morale and efforts of the music troupe. Well-known journalist and columnist V.Gangadhar points out " Everything is so well executed that you are glued to your seats for the entire four hours.” It would not be an exaggeration to say that Keep Alive has started a musical revolution of sorts. In the last decade the impact of Keep Alive is tremendous. Umpteen music groups have emerged from nowhere and groups have started organising shows on composers like C Ramchandra, Madan Mohan, S D Burman and others. " Suddenly people have woken up to the fact that there is an audience for such immortal compositions.", opines veteran writer and music expert Nalin Shah and promptly chides, " Interestingly, today not only old songs are getting remixed but even a music troupe has several clones". The tenth anniversary of Keep Alive was recently celebrated at the Shanmukhananda hall admist great fanfare. Three thousand odd music lovers gathered at the venue and cheered the singers with thunderous applause.

With Manohar Iyer's unflinching passion, dedication and commitment vintage hindi melodies will continue to capture the hearts of music aficionados. For details contact Manohar Iyer - 9820535910