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Kailasa :: The 57th Filmfare Awards Nomination Party :: Jan 13th

What started out as a simple tête-àtête ended up being a very exclusive performance, captured by us, and us only!

Filmfare Awards – does more need to be said? Try as we might to overlook the influence of Bollywood, we cannot escape its clutches. Its peremptory presence practically invades every aspect of our lives, and we cannot help but succumb to its persistence. As I’m thinking about this, I steal a sideways glance, only to notice a star-struck Shresht Poddar grinning from ear to ear.

So what were we doing there, you might ask. Driven by our undying need to talk and stalk every performing artist, this challenge took us to the dark depths of the Hyatt Regency, where we laid an ambush for Kailash Kher’s band, Kailasa.

Ok, I exaggerate. Since they were performing that night for a very star-studded audience before embarking on a multi-city tour, we had no option but to meet them at the same rendezvous.  

So… after a good 2-3 hours of waiting, during which the kind gentlemen manning the floors at the Hyatt gently kindled our fury by banning us from taking pictures here, there and everywhere in between, we caught up with the band members in their rooms upstairs.

One would think they’d be a bit stressed, since they were about to play an important show for an important audience only a few hours before flying out to somewhere in the middle of nowhere (Bihar, I believe) for another show (no wait, it was Delhi) – but these guys were as cool as cucumbers. Pardon the clichés, I was quite hungry by that time, and even cucumbers would have seemed like a lobster meal. But the laid back attitudes and the upbeat personalities of everyone in the band – Paresh and Naresh Kamath, Sanket Naik, Tejasvi Rao, JoseNeil’ Gomes, Sameer Chiplunkar, Kurt Peters – kept the hunger at bay.

And then we met the man, the legend, ‘allah-ka-bandhaKailash Kher himself!

Shresht, at this point, was practically jumping on his toes, and had to restrain himself from pulling out his camera and launching a shutterbug assault on the maestro, who, bless his soul, kindly elaborated his experiences as a singer/songwriter. It was only when the band manager kept beckoning to us that Kailasa was supposed to perform within minutes that we grudgingly relented, but not without following closely. 

The minute we entered the main hall, Shresht transformed into something else entirely. He quickly scanned through the audience members, nodding his head slightly as he muttered off names upon recognizing one and every familiar face within Bollywood. Whenever someone new as much as stepped a single foot within the hall, Shresht whispered and announced their names, while I, much to his disgust, asked questions like “Erm, and who is that?” or “So what movie has he or she acted in?” His venomous whispered responses seemed to have no effect on me, as I simply followed up with “When was that?” or “I’ve never heard of that. Are you lying?”

Kailasa: Onstage!

Fortunately for both of us, they finally announced that Kailasa was up next, and we saw the band members take up their instruments on stage. They started playing a few bars, while numerous actors were still on stage… and then, we heard the all-too familiar voice cry out from the background – “Tu Kya Jaane….”

The crowd started looking around, wondering where this voice was coming from, as it continued to sing more lines; slowly, the voice became clearer and louder, as Kailash Kher finally entered the stage from behind, and the band launched fully into the song, while Kailash Kher sang and walked straight down the ramp and bowed to the whole audience, without missing a single note.

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Playing in such a high profile setting would be considered an honour as such, and the whole band, including the vocalist, could be seen enjoying their own performance, but what we saw happening around us was quite disappointing. There was quite the hustle and bustle within the crowd as one celebrity after another started making a beeline for the exit (the bar was a few feet away), without any regard for the live performance.

In fact, as soon as certain actors had left the stage, all reporters and cameramen virtually disappeared with them, leaving no one but us to capture the rest of the performance. So it was true when Kailash Kher mentioned that their performance would not be televised – but hey, we got it for you, our fellow music fans!

Nonetheless, I couldn’t help but think – So much for ‘performing artists’ supporting one another, eh? 

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Those of us who stayed back – a good two-thirds of the original audience – were still in for a treat, as Kailasa played “Rangeele”, their latest single, live, followed by other classics.

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And finally, the rest of the band supported Kailash Kher as he sang a truly beautiful duet with a truly wonderful Rekha Bharadwaj, who had performed an earlier set that evening.

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Sadly, their performance ended as quickly as it started (at least it seemed that way) – we were enraptured to simply watch them live and up close – it made little or no difference to even Shresht himself (the self-restraint practice was paying off!) as such individuals as Diya Mirza or Karan Johar or one of the many Kapoors – walked out within mere inches of him on their way out, while we stood rooted to our spots, lost in the magic of Kailasa’s music.

Naresh and Sanket provided the occasional backing vocals while Neil displayed his dexterity, switching from violin to saxophone – the man is a multi-instrumentalist, and he is proficient with all stringed and brass instruments! How often do you find someone like that? But here’s a better question, which even Shresht had to acknowledge grudgingly – how often do you find some actor fully appreciating the sheer magnitude of talent that goes into writing and playing a song, for which it’s the actors, and not so much the band, that gets the recognition? 

Numerous such questions came to my mind, one of which I couldn’t help but share with Shresht – doesn’t it seem unfair that musicians have to work so hard, day in and day out to come up with a single song, that could be approved or discarded on a whim? That’s when Shresht, having tolerated enough of my disdain for Bollywood, asked me – doesn’t it seem unfair that it is you and not myself who will be writing this?

Cyd The Squyd went home depressed, while Shresht Poddar went home feeling like a million bucks. Will Shresht make it to the actual Filmfare awards? Stay tuned to to find out more!

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