A memorable wintry evening it was indeed on Friday when one of India’s great singing couples performed at Jumeirah Creekside Hotel in Dubai.
Roopkumar and Sunali Rathod have not changed a bit over the years looks-wise. They remain the charming duo that has entertained fans for more than two-and-a-half decades.
Their popularity has only risen with their tireless pursuit of their passion. Roopkumar, whose Sandese Aate Hai — which he sang with Sonu Nigam for the Bollywood movie Border — brought him much fame, touched a chord with music lovers by singing it yet again at the concert.
They started the evening with melodious duet Tere Liye from Veer Zaara, originally sung by Roopkumar and Lata Mangeshkar. Rathod followed it with a solo, Aap Ki Nazron Ne Samajha from Anpadh. It sounded like Mangeshkar herself was performing.
Roopkumar’s repertoire included ghazals, qawwalis and geet (songs). The rendering of Ghalib’s ghazal Dil e nadaan tujhe hua kya; Nigahen milane ko jee chahta hai, a qawwali from the 1963 film Dil Hi To Hai; a dua, Khwaja mere khwaja, from the film Jodha Akbar; and his own Sufi song Maula Mere Maula from the film Anwar, were well received by all. Kathak dancers Sobia Khan, Sakshi and Nilanjana joined Rathod with their Sufi dance for Maula Mere, giving the song a different dimension.
Tujh Mein Rab Dikhta Hai, which he sang for the film Rab Ne Banadi Jodi and Manna Dey’s fast-paced Laga Chunari Mein Daag from Dil Hi Toh Hai were a real treat.
The audience, who expected Rathod to match her husband song for song or team up with him for some more duets, were a bit disappointed. She, however, won their hearts with Mangeshkar’s Yun Hasraton Ke Dagh from the 1958 film Adalat.
But the surprise of the evening was Rathods’ daughter, Reeva. She made up for more than her mum’s underperformance with delightful renditions of Khushiyan choomlu ya rolu zara (Agneepath), Tuhi re (Bombay), Ruke ruke se kadam (Mausam) and Baahon ki darmiyan (Khamoshi). Her songs gave a glimpse into the promise this budding artist has.
The mother and daughter teamed up for Madhuban Mein Radhika Nache Re (Kohinoor) while Roopkumar joined them for the finale, Tere Bina Zindagi Se Koi Shikwa To Nahi (Aandhi).
The event, presented by Price Global Conference & Events, began with a musical entertainment by a local group Raaga Factory.
A performance by tabla player Pandit Kalinath Mishra regaled the audience, but it appeared a bit stretched, especially when Kathak dancers joined him for an extended dance. It was akin to a trailer of a movie taking longer time than the movie you’ve bargained for.
Though the venue was perfect for the concert a word must be mentioned about the stage and sound system. Those sitting just a few rows away from the stage could hardly see the singers and accompanying artists as it was quite low. And less said about the audio is better. Acoustics were poor to the extent it was difficult to get the lyrics.