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Remembering Hemant Kumar’s Musical Legacy

A rare combination of a gifted musical composer, who wove in classical strains, and a playback singer, with a gently soothing voice, he recorded his first (Bengali) song in 1940 and the first Hindi song a couple of years later…writes Vikas Dutta

You should have been named Hemant Kumar because you sing so well, the tetchy heroine of the night-long caper film ‘Solva Saal’ (1958) snaps at the interloping hero after being gratuitously serenaded by him in a Bombay suburban train while she is trying to elope with her beau. This was subtle praise for the singer of ‘Hai apna dil to awara’, who was no other than Hemant Kumar.

The tribute was well deserved for the singer-composer for his prowess spanned Bengali and Hindi films and whose well-modulated baritone was the voice of superstars of both industries, especially Uttam Kumar and Dev Anand. And then, he became the first Indian invited to compose for a Hollywood film – Conrad Rook’s ‘Siddharta’ (1972), based on Herman Hesse’s novel, and also used two of his Bengali songs in it.

Born on this day (June 16) in 1920 in then Benares in a family of modest means, Hemanta Mukhopadhyay was interested in music from his early years and abandoned his engineering education for music.

A rare combination of a gifted musical composer, who wove in classical strains, and a playback singer, with a gently soothing voice, he recorded his first (Bengali) song in 1940 and the first Hindi song a couple of years later.

But, while well-established in Bengali films in the 1940s, he could not make a simultaneous mark in Hindi films. It was only in the early 1950s that he was called to Bombay to give music for ‘Anand Math’ (1952), and came to national prominence for both his spirited compositions and renditions of ‘Vande Mataram’ and ‘Jai Jagdish Hare, Jai Jagdish Hare’ in it.

His next two films flopped, and a disheartened Hemant Kumar, as he had become on the suggestion of veteran filmmaker Sasadhar Mukherjee, was planning to head back to Calcutta but was convinced to stay on.

‘Nagin’ (1954), with its hypnotically compelling music, especially that snake-charmer melody on a ‘been’ – actually rendered on the clavioline by Kalyanji and on the harmonium by Ravi – both his assistants before they went to become prominent music directors in their own right – cemented his place in the Hindi film industry and also fetched a Filmfare Award for music.

But while he went on to give music – and his voice – for several other landmark films, and also went on to remake gothic literary masterpieces like ‘Bees Saal Baad’ (1962), and ‘Kohraa’ (1964), and that stark drama ‘Khamoshi’ (1969), his impact in Bombay started declining in the late 1960s as his brand of music and his genteel voice did not attract the attention it once had. However, he continued to enjoy a flourishing career in Calcutta, especially for his Rabindra Sangeet renditions, apart from films.

Hemant Kumar, who later on started to dye his hair as he contended that youngsters would not appreciate love songs from a grey-haired man, also became known for refusing a Padma Shri in the 1970s and a Padma Bhushan in the 1980s “as too late,” slowed down a bit in the 1980s due to health issues but went on. In fact, he had returned from a concert in Dhaka in September 1989 before suffering a major and fatal heart attack.

A top-notch music composer and a playback singer, like S. D. Burman, Hemant Kumar differed from the senior Burman, whose songs were more situational, more popular and enduring songs.

Take ‘Yaad kiya dil ne kahan ho tum’, picturised on a dapper Dev Anand, in ‘Patita’ (1953), or the exuberant ‘Main gareebon ka dil hoon watan ki zabaan’, from ‘Aab-e-Hayat’ (1955), which seems another of the Arabian Nights-type escapade that were once Bollywood staples, the ethereal duet ‘Nain se nain naahii milao’ in V. Shantaram’s ‘Jhanak Jhanak Paayal Baaje’ (1955), and the peppy and playful ‘Zara nazron se kah do ji nishana chuk na jaye’ (‘Bees Saal Baad’) are proof.

Then, his own composed and sung ‘Na tum hamen jaano’ from ‘Baat Ek Raat Ki’ (1962), where Dev Anand softly croons a piece of the ‘antara’, rather than the ‘mukhda’ over a sleeping Waheeda Rehman, before beginning the song.

And there was his penchant for the telling pause and change of tone – the nearly indiscernible break before ‘Bichhad gaya har saathi dekar/Pal do pal kaa saath/Kisko fursat hai jo thame deewaanon ka haath’.. and the slight change of tone for ‘Hamko apna saaya tak aqsar bezar mila…’ in ‘Jaane woh kaise log the..’ from Guru Dutt’s ‘Pyaasa’ (1957) and the voice shift in the transition from ‘… jaagte rahenge aur kitni raat ham…’ to ‘Muktsar si baat hai..’. from his Bollywood swan song ‘Tum pukaar lo, tumhara intezaar hai’ in ‘Khamoshi’.

It is no wonder why Lata Mangeshkar and Salil Choudhary dubbed him “Voice of God.”

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Lite Blogs Music

Taylor Swift Pauses Edinburgh Concert Due to Weird Cramp

Despite the incident, Taylor relished the experience of performing for her fans in Scotland, admitting she had an “unforgettable” evening…reports Asian Lite News

Pop icon Taylor Swift had to briefly pause her concert in Edinburgh after suffering a “weird cramp”.

The singer impressed fans at Murrayfield Stadium in Scotland but was forced to briefly stop playing her guitar due to the cramp, reports ‘Female First UK’.

Taylor told the crowd: “My hand has frozen in a weird cramp… this is so embarrassing… it’s like performing with a claw. No one relates.”

Despite the incident, Taylor relished the experience of performing for her fans in Scotland, admitting she had an “unforgettable” evening.

As per ‘Female First UK’, the singer, who performed some of her best-known songs, including ‘Cruel Summer’ and ‘Lover’, said: “Edinburgh, you have given us everything you could possibly give us tonight.”

Taylor is set to perform in Liverpool on June 13, 14, and 15, and it was recently announced that the city will be renamed Taylor Town when 150,000 fans descend for her shows at Anfield.

Liverpool City Council announced the city is getting a new name in celebration of Taylor, and there are plans to showcase 11 art instalations inspired by each era of her career.

Taylor is also scheduled to perform in Cardiff and London, with her shows reportedly set to boost UK spending by almost $1.2 billion.

Meanwhile, Taylor recently made it onto Forbes’ World Billionaires list for the first time, becoming the first person in history to reach a net worth of $1 billion solely through their music or performances.

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Bollywood London News Music

Frankie Goes to Bollywood

A Bollywood musical is coming to Wolverhampton next month.

Brought to stage by Rifco Theatre Company, Frankie Goes to Bollywood is a spectacular all-singing-all-dancing tale of heroes and villains, with all the costumes and the spectacle of a Bollywood feature film. It tells the tale of being British in Bollywood and explores what it takes to get to the top.

Frankie never wanted to be a star, all she’s ever really wanted is a close and loving family – but after a chance encounter with an up-and-coming director, she finds herself transported to Bollywood, cast in a movie and thrust into the limelight. Might the Bollywood world provide her with the family and community she has always dreamed of? Suddenly Frankie is immersed in the world of fame and fortune but as she climbs the sparkling staircase of stardom, each step makes her question what she is willing to do, or be subjected to, for success.

Drawing inspiration from both traditional Bollywood music and the best of western musical theatre, the music for Frankie goes to Bollywood is a carefully integrated hybrid – designed to appeal to lovers of the Bollywood genre and also lovers of a good old West End extravaganza.

Bollywood as an industry generates over £2 billion a year, and globally the films have an audience of 1.3billion. In the UK a successful Bollywood film can be expected to take as much as £4 million – so it’s little wonder that the glamorous lure of Bollywood stardom appeals to many British-South Asian young people.

The musical, conceived by Artistic Director of Rifco Pravesh Kumar MBE, is inspired by those true stories of young men and women who make the journey to India to become Brits in Bollywood.

Pravesh says “A lot of the story is about a question of belonging. In some ways in the UK, British born South Asian people, will still forever be seen by many as immigrants, no matter how many generations their families have lived in Britain. So forging a career in Bollywood, be that in front of or behind the camera can be seen by those who go out there, as somewhat of a homecoming. But then, being British born, and new to a lot of the culture, many of the women who go to work in the industry become acutely aware of the deeply ingrained sexism, not just within the industry itself, but displayed on screen. And that’s something they have to address and decide how much of that disparity they can put up with.”

“I wanted to highlight this issue, because as the world fights the good fight for increased equality between genders, it’s men’s responsibility to shine a light on sexism, and to call it out when they see it – at work, amongst their friends, and in the wider world.

I love Bollywood fiercely and this musical is at heart, a celebration of the genre and the art and the people involved. But that doesn’t mean I’m not still hoping and pushing for change. So my hope is that is this work a celebration of Bollywood, but at the same time, a small catalyst for improved social standing for women in the industry, both behind-the-scenes, and how they are portrayed on the silver screen.”

Frankie Goes to Bollywood comes to Wolverhampton Grand Theatre from 11 – 15 June. For tickets and more information visit: FRANKIE GOES TO BOLLYWOOD | Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

ALSO READ: Manoj Bajpayee Shares Passion for Acting Ahead of 100th Film

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Interview Lite Blogs Music

‘Mr & Mrs Mahi’ Song ‘Agar Ho Tum’ Celebrates Love, Says Jubin Nautiyal

Jubin has sung four songs for Rajkummar — ‘Kiston’ from ‘Roohi’, ‘Meri Tum Ho’ from ‘Ludo’, ‘Tinka’ from ‘HIT: The First Case’, and ‘Tu Mil Gaya’ from ‘Srikanth’…reports Asian Lite News

Singer Jubin Nautiyal, who has belted out hit tracks like ‘Humnava Mere’, ‘Lut Gaye’, ‘Bedardi Se Pyaar Ka’, among others, shared that he loved singing for actors Sidharth Malhotra and Vicky Kaushal.

Jubin’s latest track ‘Agar Ho Tum’ from ‘Mr & Mrs Mahi’ has been released, and the ‘Dil Pe Zakhm’ singer talked about working with Rajkummar Rao for the song, along with revealing which actors he loved most working with.

Jubin, who has lent his voice to actors like Hrithik Roshan, Emraan Hashmi, Aditya Roy Kapur, and many others said: “I loved working with Sidharth Malhotra for sure. We have done some brilliant songs like ‘Rabba Janda’, ‘Raataan Lambiyan’ and many others. Then I did this song with Vicky Kaushal also ‘Bana Sharabi’, which I really enjoyed watching – Vicky, Kiara’s chemistry, it was lovely.”

“But now coming back to ‘Agar Ho Tum’ this is brilliant. This is so effortless, just flows through, I am enjoying this journey I am having with Rajkummar right now. I think he is a brilliant actor, and a brilliant actor needs a brilliant voice for romance, and my voice kind of works with him, because of some kind of innocence, some reality that he has, when he is playing any character… so, it’s brilliant. I am enjoying it. I did one more song with Rajkummar for ‘Srikanth’. Again my voice there also is working for him,” shared Jubin.

Jubin has sung four songs for Rajkummar — ‘Kiston’ from ‘Roohi’, ‘Meri Tum Ho’ from ‘Ludo’, ‘Tinka’ from ‘HIT: The First Case’, and ‘Tu Mil Gaya’ from ‘Srikanth’.

Talking about his latest track ‘Agar Ho Tum’, Jubin shared: “In this song the romance and passion between Rajkummar and Janhvi, you can’t deny it’s special. Both of them look very natural, so much in love. and hum musicians ko iske alawa kuch chahiye hi nahi hota hai.”

The song showcases the beautiful chemistry between Rajkummar and Janhvi, celebrating the love found in life’s simple joys. Composed by Tanishk Bagchi, and penned by Kausar Munir, the song is set against the picturesque backdrop of Jaipur, capturing Mahima (Janhvi) and Mahendra’s (Rajkummar) relationship’s journey, showcasing love and companionship.

“We work hard on the song and when actors come on the screen and create magic, we are just sitting and smiling at our song all over again. So, that’s what we live for. So much love to Rajkummar and Janhvi for that insane performance, and the director who has shot it so well. I think we are moving towards a big big hit,” added Jubin.

Directed by Sharan Sharma, and produced by Zee Studios and Dharma Productions, ‘Mr & Mrs Mahi’ is scheduled for release on May 31.

‘Agar Ho Tum’ Captures Love’s Essence

The makers of Rajkummar Rao and Janhvi Kapoor-starrer ‘Mr & Mrs Mahi’ on Monday unveiled the second song titled ‘Agar Ho Tum’ filled with emotions, emphasising the sentiment of love and partnership.

The three-minute and 26-second song showcases the beautiful chemistry between Rajkummar and Janhvi, celebrating the love found in life’s simple joys.

Composed by Tanishk Bagchi, sung by Jubin Nautiyal, and penned by Kausar Munir, the song is set against the picturesque backdrop of Jaipur, capturing Mahima (Janhvi) and Mahendra’s (Rajkummar) relationship’s journey, showcasing love and companionship.

Sharing the song on social media, Rajkummar wrote: “Experience love in all its pureness & power in #AgarHoTum.”

Music composer Tanishk said: “’Agar Ho Tum’ is a fresh romantic element to the album. Kausar Munir’s beautiful lyrics and Jubin’s melodious voice will connect with the audience. It brings out the right kind of emotions and feelings, we hope audiences resonate with the song and enjoy it.”

Jubin Nautiyal shared that the song is about being in companionship and feeling like nothing else matters ‘if I have you’.

“The emotions and the words align with the situation in the film, and Rajkummar and Jahnvi’s chemistry has shined through the song. The lyrics instantly resonate, and we have tried to infuse the song with deep emotions to truly honour its essence. The perfect choice of words and the brilliant composition bring out the best. Collaborating again with Tanishk was wonderful, and I hope audiences like it,” Jubin said.

Lyricist Kausar said that while writing the lyrics for this song, they aimed to capture the right blend of emotions, expressing the feelings of belonging and togetherness.

“Working with Jubin and Tanishk was an absolute delight. ‘Agar Ho Tum’ has a little bit of each one of us and I am looking forward to seeing everyone’s response to it,” the lyricist said.

The makers had earlier released the first song from the movie titled ‘Dekhha Tenu’.

Directed by Sharan Sharma, and produced by Zee Studios and Dharma Productions, ‘Mr & Mrs Mahi’ is scheduled for release on May 31.

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Lite Blogs Music

‘Sonchadi’ by Neha Kakkar Celebrates Nature and Love

The song is composed by digV, and sung by Neha, digV and Kamala Devi. The creative producer is Ankur Tewari, and the lyrics are by Lavraj…reports Asian Lite News

Singer Neha Kakkar has opened up on her latest song ‘Sonchadi’ sharing how the track ignites a sense of harmony, urging listeners to embrace their role in preserving and safeguarding the planet for future generations.

The song which is presented by Coke Studio Bharat, is a reimagining of the Kumaon folk tale of Rajula and Malushahi. This folk tale from the Uttarakhand region tells a timeless love story.

Speaking about the song, Neha said: “I’m thrilled to introduce ‘Sonchadi’ to our audience. This track is our heartfelt interpretation of the timeless tale of Rajula Malushahi, resonating with the enduring love story woven into the essence of nature.”

“Through this song, our intention is to ignite a sense of harmony with the world around us, urging listeners to embrace their role in preserving and safeguarding our planet for future generations,” she added.

The audiences are transported into the lush landscapes of Uttarakhand, the heart of nature, where love and the environment intertwine. The centuries-old epic of Rajula Malushahi, cherished in Kumaon’s folklore, tells the story of Rajula, whose beauty is said to rival the sun, and Malushahi, the young monarch of the Katyuri Kingdom.

The song is composed by digV, and sung by Neha, digV and Kamala Devi. The creative producer is Ankur Tewari, and the lyrics are by Lavraj.

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Lite Blogs Music

Dive into Comedy with These Hilarious Podcasts and Shows

As World Laughter Day knocks on our door, let’s buckle up for a rollercoaster of laughter as we take a deep dive into the world of comedy, quirky mishaps, and eccentric stories!

From Vir Das’s exploration of embracing life’s quirkiest mishaps to Kaneez Surka’s amusing anecdotes or Kapil Sharma and Dafli’s crazy antics, these OTT gems are guaranteed to leave you in fits of laughter. So, grab your headphones and get ready for a ball of a good time as we explore the world of laughter and comedy.  

Be Stupid with Vir Das

Platform: Audible

Ever wondered how a seemingly unwise decision could surprisingly steer your life towards positive changes? Dive into Vir Das’s entertaining expedition through life’s most unforeseen slip-ups. In this unique podcast for embracing life’s quirkiest mishaps, Vir initiates candid dialogues with individuals recounting their stories of immediate regret and redemption. Tune in to unravel why, at times, the journey to wisdom unfolds amidst moments of pure absurdity and laughter!

The Unexperts

Platform: Audible

This World Laughter Day, listen to ‘The Unexperts’, a 10-episode audio series created and hosted by popular comic, Abish Mathew for lighthearted perspectives on the world’s quirkiest subjects! Each episode features a diverse panel dissecting topics like nostalgic school memories, AI, ghosts, and family dynamics. These ‘Unexperts’ offer unsolicited advice, absurd opinions, and hilariously terrible reviews, all while showcasing the joy of embracing the unnecessary.

Cupid Kaneez


Platform: Audible

Cupid Kaneez, a 10-episode series features comedian Kaneez Surka as she takes on the role of matchmaker for her friends, arranging blind dates and dissecting the outcomes afterwards. Each episode delves into the suspense, intrigue, and awkwardness of contemporary dating, with guests like Sumukhi Suresh, Rohan Joshi, Kubbra Sait, Rega Jha, Pooja Dhingra, Daniel Fernandes, and others sharing their insights on navigating the complexities of modern romance in these hilarious conversations.

BB Ki Vines

Platform: Audible

Tune in to the BB Ki Vines podcast for a glimpse into the daily antics of Bhuvan Bam and his family. Bhuvan Bam, a versatile actor, singer-songwriter, comedian, and entrepreneur, shares his journey. Starting as a performer at a Delhi restaurant in 2012, he later transitioned to uploading short comedy sketches on his YouTube channel in 2015. A force to reckon with in the comedy and creator space, don’t miss out on the entertaining stories and insights he shares on this podcast.

The Great Indian Kapil Show

Platform: Netflix

Get ready for endless laughter with Kapil Sharma as he headlines his riotous variety talk show on Netflix! Joined by celebrity guests like Diljit Dosanjh, Rohit Sharma, Ranbir Kapoor and his hilarious supporting cast consisting of Sunil Grover and Krushna Abhishek, watch this show for a non-stop dose of laughter, witty antics, and unforgettable moments. Don’t miss out on this ultimate entertainment that guarantees a good laugh every weekend only at 8 pm!

Trevor Noah: Where Was I

Platform: Netflix

Catch Trevor Noah’s comedy special on Netflix as he takes you on a journey around the world! From poking fun at national anthems to recounting his misadventures on a German sightseeing tour, Trevor keeps the laughs coming. Also, don’t miss the comical tale of his roast in Paris. With his unique perspective and sharp humour, Trevor delivers a comedy experience you won’t want to miss!

Zarna Garg: One in a Billion

Platform: Amazon Prime Video

Tune in to watch the riotous comedy of Zarna Garg. She’s shaking up the comedy scene with her unabashedly Indian-Immigrant-mom viewpoint, perfect to indulge for a good laugh. Catch her as she delivers witty jokes and comments on matchmaking, entitled kids, clueless husbands, nosy aunties, and tyrannical mothers-in-law!

Kenny Sebastian: Don’t Be That Guy

Platform: Amazon Prime Video

Check out Kenny Sebastian’s hilarious stand-up special, where he takes the stage at Mumbai’s prestigious Royal Opera House. In his fifth outing, he humorously discusses the pitfalls of trying to stay forever young and the challenges of growing older. From navigating relationships with women to grappling with parental expectations, Kenny candidly shares why he’s bidding farewell to his former ‘nice guy’ persona.

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Lite Blogs Music

Vishal-Shekhar & Singers Join ‘Pokemon Horizons’ Anthem

For Armaan, it’s surreal to think that the Pokemon cards he traded as a kid would lead him to sing the opening track for ‘Pokemon Horizons’ in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu…reports Asian Lite News

Music composer duo Vishal and Sheykhar have teamed up with playback singers Armaan Malik and Shirley Setia for the upcoming anime series ‘Pokemon Horizons: The Series’.

The original opening and ending soundtracks, created by the duo, were unveiled at a five-star property in the Juhu area of Mumbai on Tuesday.

These tracks capture the spirit of our childhood and promise to warm our hearts.

The new series introduces new characters along with an engaging storyline, featuring Pikachu at the helm of an airship.

Sharing their thoughts on the collaboration, Vishal and Sheykhar said: “We were thrilled to receive the call to collaborate with ‘Pokemon’. We’ve crafted tracks that capture the essence of fun and adventure synonymous with the brand, infusing them with a distinct Indian flair to deeply resonate with our local audience. We hope these tracks will keep reminding people of the animated series even when they are away from their TV sets.”

For Armaan, it’s surreal to think that the Pokemon cards he traded as a kid would lead him to sing the opening track for ‘Pokemon Horizons’ in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu.

“Growing up, watching ‘Pokemon’ every day was a ritual, and now, to be a voice that carries this legacy forward with the Horizons series is not just an honour, it’s a full-circle moment for me. Vishal-Sheykhar have infused traditional sounds with Pokemon’s global charm to create a melody that resonates with fans across generations,” he said.

Adding to the excitement, Shirley said: “It’s always an honour to be able to create something that resonates so well with our childhood. In fact, I have collected Pokemon soft toys and collectibles that I absolutely loved and still do. Lending my voice to this iconic franchise has been an incredible experience, and I hope the tracks will leave a lasting impression among fans.”

The first episode of the anime series is set to launch on May 25 on Hungama.

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Arts & Culture Lite Blogs Music

Embracing a Timeless Legacy of Arts at SIFAS Festival of Arts 2024

Established in 1949, SIFAS has been a cornerstone of Indian cultural heritage in Singapore, fostering art and cultural appreciation through its diverse disciplines…reports Asian Lite News

As the Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society (SIFAS) commemorates its 75th year of enriching Singapore’s cultural landscape, the much-anticipated SIFAS Festival of Arts, continues to captivate audiences till May 1, 2024, in Singapore.

The celebration by SIFAS is jointly organised with SIFAS Productions Limited (SPL) and will feature enthralling performances by leading Indian classical artistes Ranjani and Gayatri (RaGa Sisters), Jayateerth Mevundi, Abhishek Raghuram and dance drama by Kalakshetra Foundation in collaboration with SIFAS.

Established in 1949, SIFAS has been a cornerstone of Indian cultural heritage in Singapore, fostering art and cultural appreciation through its diverse disciplines.

2024 marks SIFAS’ Diamond Jubilee, a significant milestone for the non-profit organisation committed to nurturing talent and promoting Indian fine arts in the region. As Singapore transitions into a global arts hub, SIFAS continues to uphold its mission of preserving and promoting Indian cultural heritage while embracing multiculturalism. 

The SIFAS Festival of Arts 2024, an iconic event in SIFAS’ cultural calendar, celebrates the institution’s legacy as the heart and hub of Indian arts in Singapore. Themed ‘Virasata: Celebrating a Timeless Legacy of Arts,’ this year’s festival also serves as a curtain-raiser to SIFAS’ 75th anniversary celebrations that will extend throughout the year.

With over 75 programmes of classical Indian music, dance, and visual arts, the festival promises a mesmerising journey through the rich tapestry of Indian arts. From traditional Kathak and Bharatanatyam performances and soul-stirring renditions of Hindustani and Carnatic vocals and instrumentals to a visual arts exhibition and arts and craft workshops, the festival showcases the depth and diversity of Indian cultural heritage.

“We are thrilled to present the SIFAS Festival of Arts as a tribute to SIFAS’ illustrious journey over the past 75 years,” said K V Rao, President, SIFAS. “This festival not only celebrates our heritage but also embraces the future of Indian arts, showcasing the talents of both emerging artists and iconic maestros.”

“The 75th Anniversary milestone is being celebrated with SIFAS collaborating with organisations as well as leaders in the arts industry, both locally and globally, especially from India,” said Menaka Gopalan, Executive Director, SIFAS. “We have also made a conscious effort with our outreach towards different communities, including the underrepresented, to promote arts and mental well-being.”

Scheduled at the SIFAS Stage and Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, the festival promises an unforgettable experience for art enthusiasts of all ages. Through its immersive programmes and vibrant performances, the SIFAS Festival of Arts 2024 invites audiences to celebrate the enduring legacy of Indian arts and culture in Singapore. Air India is the official carrier for the SIFAS Festival of Arts, enhancing the cultural journey for attendees from around the world.

In addition to the milestone anniversary, SIFAS also celebrates 20 years of the SIFAS Festival of Arts this year. The SIFAS Festival of Arts has been an eminent platform for showcasing the best in Indian fine arts in Singapore. Evolving with each year since 2003, they have collaborated with Esplanade since 2005 to bring both internationally renowned and emerging local talent to the forefront. This year, the festival marks two decades of cultural brilliance and community engagement. Through the festival, a year-long celebration from May 19, 2024, to May 19, 2025, and a series of events and activities, SIFAS aims to underscore its enduring legacy and its vision for the future of Indian fine arts in Singapore.

ALSO READ-Santanu and Sunita Dinda’s Artistic Ode to Indianness

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Hollywood Music

‘The Tortured Poets Department’ Album Set to Wow Fans

Speaking at her Eras Tour shows, Swift revealed the therapeutic nature of the album’s creation, emphasizing the role of songwriting in navigating life’s complexities…reports Asian Lite News

Taylor Swift electrified the audience at the 2024 Grammys with a surprise announcement that left Swifties worldwide buzzing with anticipation.

During her acceptance speech for Best Pop Vocal, Swift revealed that her 11th studio album, titled ‘The Tortured Poets Department’, is slated for release this year.

The Grammy-winning artist tantalized fans further by unveiling the album’s cover, a sultry black-and-white image, shortly after the revelation on stage. Styled in a black cami tank top and matching high-rise briefs, Swift’s mysterious pose hinted at the thematic depth awaiting listeners.

Scheduled to drop on April 19, ‘The Tortured Poets Department’ promises a journey into Swift’s soul, with 16 tracks and a bonus offering insight into the artist’s most intimate thoughts. Collaborations with Post Malone and Florence + The Machine add further intrigue to the album, showcasing Swift’s versatility and musical prowess.

Swift’s partner, Travis Kelce, expressed his excitement in an interview statement obtained by Billboard.

He described the album as “unbelievable” after being one of its beta listeners. Swift herself shared that the album has been in the works for about two years, indicating a deeply personal and meticulously crafted project.

Not content with one version, Swift unveiled multiple editions of ‘The Tortured Poets Department’.

As per Billboard, from ‘The Bolter’ to ‘The Albatross’ and finally ‘The Black Dog’, each edition offers a unique experience, reflecting different facets of Swift’s artistic vision.

Speaking at her Eras Tour shows, Swift revealed the therapeutic nature of the album’s creation, emphasizing the role of songwriting in navigating life’s complexities.

As the release date approaches, anticipation continues to mount, with fans eagerly awaiting the arrival of what promises to be a landmark addition to Swift’s illustrious discography. (ANI)

Swift and Kelce’s Relationship Blooms

Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift and her beau Travis Kelce were spotted enjoying their time at the Coachella festival.

The duo was spotted kissing and dancing together backstage as Swift’s friend Jack Antonoff’s band Bleachers performed their set, as reported by ‘People’ magazine.

The night prior to their appearance at the fest, Swift and Kelce were spotted holding hands while leaving a date night at Sushi Park, as seen in photos obtained by ‘People’.

Swift has a few weeks off from her Eras Tour before she resumes shows in May in Paris, France.

As per ‘People’, next week, the Grammy-winning singer will release her 11th studio album, ‘The Tortured Poets Department’.

She teased some lyrics from the forthcoming album in honour of the solar eclipse on April 8.

Meanwhile, Kelce recently received his college diploma alongside his older brother Jason Kelce at a “surprise commencement” ceremony at the University of Cincinnati.

During the ceremony, Travis notably wore a beaded bracelet reminiscent of the kind Swift’s fans famously exchange during the singer’s Eras Tour.

Ahead of their trip to Coachella, the couple was spotted holding hands during a trip to the Bahamas.

“They vacationed in the Bahamas for several days,” a source said. “It was a much-needed break for both of them. They very much enjoyed it. They are so happy together.”

ALSO READ-Taylor Swift Tops Beauty Charts

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Bollywood Lite Blogs Music

Remembering Shamshad Begum

Hindi films’ first female playback superstar, Shamshad Begum held her own against existing singers like the classically trained Ameerbai Karnataki and Zohrabai Ambalewali and singing actresses like Noor Jehan and Suraiya. In fact, Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle, who were emerging then, were counselled to sing in her style…writes Vikas Datta

Her influence persists in Bollywood even after her name has faded from public memory, althrough remixes of her rollicking hits from the 1950s continue to be in circulation. Another, and not that well-known, legacy of Shamshad Begum, though, was initiating what later became “item numbers”, though her contributions were more perky than provocative, saucy than raunchy, and racy without being ribald.

And then, they were delivered in a robust voice, whose clarity was compared to a temple bell by composer O.P. Nayyar, with a full-blown gusto and sense of abandon.

“Udan khatole pe udh jaaun” (“Anmol Ghadi”, 1946), “Mere piya gaye Rangoon” (“Patanga”, 1949), “Kabhi aar kabhi paar” (“Aar Paar”, 1954), “Bisvi sadi hai ye bisvii sadi” (“Chaalis Baabaa Ek Chor”, 1954), “Leke pehla pehla pyar”, “Kahin pe nigahen kahin pe nishana”, and “Boojh mera kya naam re” (“CID”, 1956) are prime examples.

And then, nearly forty years before Madhuri Dixit in “Tezaab” (1988), Shamshad Begum, who was born on this day (April 14) in 1919 and passed away days after her 94th birthday in 2013, had already made the nation count “Ek do teen…”, in Raj Kapoor’s “Awara” (1951).

However, she was not just the singer for these foot-tapping but peripheral songs, but also the voice of many heroines, as songs like “Mohan ki muraliya baaje” (“Mela”, 1948), “Milte hi aankhen dil hua deewana kisi ka” (“Babul”, 1950), “Saiyan dil mein aana re” (“Bahar”, 1951), “Door koi gaye dhun ye sunaye” (“Baiju Bawra”, 1952), and many more show.

Hindi films’ first female playback superstar, Shamshad Begum held her own against existing singers like the classically trained Ameerbai Karnataki and Zohrabai Ambalewali and singing actresses like Noor Jehan and Suraiya. In fact, Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle, who were emerging then, were counselled to sing in her style.

Shamshad Begum’s musical abilities were recognised at school, where her principal made the five-year-old lead prayers. She sang at religious and family functions, though her conservative family was not very keen, given the prevailing norms, her daughter Usha Ratra had told IANS soon after her mother’s demise.

However, her father’s younger brother, who was fond of music, paved her way, taking her, aged 11, to an audition with Lahore-based music composer Ghulam Haider, who was so impressed with her that he signed her for a gramophone record. More importantly, her uncle also convinced her father to let her go ahead.

However, her father imposed two conditions – that she would be veiled while recording and never photographed and Shamshad Begum duly honoured them – for many decades later, there wasn’t a single photograph of her.

She came to public notice in 1937 when she was chosen to sing on All India Radio in Peshawar and Lahore. Legendary filmmaker Mehboob Khan was instrumental in beginning her film career, convincing her family, especially her father, to let her move to Bombay, offering to provide all facilities for her family.

She hit it big right with her first film – murder mystery “Khazanchi” (1941), and then “Taqdeer” (1943), the debut of Nargis. She was eagerly sought after and several composers including Naushad, Nayyar and S.D.Burman, owed their rise to her willingness to sing for them when they were trying to gain a foothold.

With no classical training, Shamshad Begum had no restrictions in singing full force but she never neglected rhythm and diction – take the famous “Kabhi aar kabhi paar”, where she speeds up her tempo in the antaras and slows down a shade to emphatically deliver the punch lines: “..Luta chain qarar”, “… Hothon par takrar” and finally “…Ab to ho gaya pyar”.

Then there is “Aana meri jaan Sunday ke Sunday” (“Shehnai”, 1947), where she provides the homespun voice to the mock Anglicised versions of C. Ramchandra and Meena Kapoor.

While she maintained her position amid the rise of Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, et al, the death of her husband Ganpat Lal Batto – whom she married in 1934 despite family opposition to the inter-faith marriage – in an accident in 1955, led her to withdraw from singing.

Naushad and Nayyar did manage to coax her back for songs like “Holi aayi re kanhaai” (“Mother India”, 1956), “Reshmi salwar kurta” (“Naya Daur”, 1957) and “Teri mehfil mein qismat” (“Mughal-e-Azam”, 1960), but then, she quit for good – only making a brief comeback to render “Kajra mohabbatwala” (“Kismat”, 1968), a duet where she proved her voice had not lost any vigour.

She spent the rest of her life with her daughter, coming back into the limelight in 2004 when there were reports that she had passed away.

Belated recognition followed as she was conferred the Padma Bhushan in 2009, and a special series of India Post stamps of 10 popular singers in 2016 had her as one of the only two women – along with Geeta Datt.

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