Winner of the Voice of Asia International Ethnic and Pop Music Contest at Almaty, Kazakhstan

  • Winner of the Voice of Asia International Ethnic and Pop Music Contest at Almaty, Kazakhstan

    Tuesday, August 23rd, 1994

Ethnic pop itself is heady enough and when punch with the earthy and raunchy Punjabi folk, the brew can be rhythmically so intoxicating as to make even the most uninitiated rise to the occasion. And that is what happened when the diminutive but sprightly Daler Mehndi duly dressed in churidar-kurta and Jawahar-jacket along with the tall nand sedate Param Khurana took the floor.

The passionate fury with which they belched out tunes one after the other, one was assured of a delirious evening and it was there what with the wonder boy Daler wit his perpetually luaghing face and rhythm-drenched body sailing through Param's rendering of the opening number "Ayee Subh raatri" in gay abandon. The duo's capacity to hold as well as tease the audience was evident as there was no stage, no special effects only music and dance mattered.

By the time Param in his mellifluous voice got into Heer Doli Chardiyan marian cheekoan the audience had warmed up and they rose to the occasion as the resounding finale came with the raunchy number "Ehi kuri leni hai" Which ptactically brought the house down with Daler flying high and Param singing his heart out.

The occasion for the revelrous evening was the triumphant return of the city's Maharaja group founded by Param Khurana and Daler Mehndi, from Almaty, Kazakhstan where they (bagged the second prize, the first went to China) at the Voice of Asia International Ethnic & Pop Music contest. Ever since the UNESCO-supported project was initiated in 1990, the contest has become a prestigious event throughout Asia. Situated against the idyllic backdrop of Tian Shan mountains and held in the sprawling Meden stadium (20,000 capacity) applicants world wide added to 200 and India was one among 23 contestants after shorlisting.

The international jury which judged the contest also included Calcutta's renowned composer Ananda Shankar among seven others.The moving spirt behind the group was the veteran producer impressario A. J. Jaspal whose expertise in the field ensured the group's siccess at Kazakhstan. IMportantly, the group's leading pair, Param and Daler are groomed in Hindustani music under Ustad Rahat Ali Khan and Ghulam Husain Khan of Rampur gharana respectively.

Other members include Amrik Singh, the group's mascot (Electric Guitar), Ajay Shankar Praanna (Flute), PritPal Singh (Dhol), Sohan Singh (Dholak), Incidentally, the Indain Ambassador at Almaty was intrumental about the group's visit (through Rassik Woodworth Ltd) and later in a letter he congratulated Jaspa for the spontaneous reception the group received from the people outside the competition.

Source :- Hindustan Times by Debu Mazumdar