Ashok Bhandari-A magician who loves the Harmonica!

Here’s a mesmerizing rendition by Shri Ashok Bhandari who believes “Anything which can amuse is music”. This piece of music titled “Arabian Nights-Part 2” is being recorded without any digital special effects. HaLoH thanks Shri Ashok Bhandari for this video.

First steps:

Ashok ji has been playing the harmonica since early seventies. It’s almost forty years now. He was inspired by Late Shri Milon Gupta (Milon da) and Shri Madan Kumar. He had personally met Milon Da twice and took some tips on harmonica playing from him. He remembers listening to Shri Madan Kumar’s renditions on Juke Box during his college days. This used to cost 25 paise per song in those days. Shri Nachiketa Desai, a journalist and a Harmonica lover from Ahmedabad also influenced him in developing passion for this tiny little instrument during their college days at BHU campus. Ashok ji says “I’ve learnt a lot about harmonica from Nachiketa during our stay in the hostel.”

Falling in Love:

Apart from playing the harmonica, Ashok ji plays the keyboard, flute and many other percussion instruments. In fact, he is a very good percussionist and had performed on various percussion instruments long ago. When asked why he fell in love with the harmonica, he says that it (harmonica) is the sweetest instrument. It is very challenging to play the harmonica because one can’t know what is happening in the player’s mouth. Moreover, harmonica is a magical instrument which leaves the audience spell bound. He sites an example mentioning that he has to take a truck load of props for his magic shows and carries this tiny instrument with him. He always plays the harmonica during his shows and finds that his audience which attends his magic shows is impressed by his harmonica performance to a much greater extent.

The style:

Ashok ji is basically a chromatic harmonica player and plays Indian music. In fact this piece of music which is being uploaded along with this article is Arabic music played on a chromatic harmonica. There are lots of chromatic notes in this rendition which he believes is almost impossible to achieve in a diatonic harmonica. He believes that one should “Improvise” on the song one plays and should avoid being a carbon copy of another player. He sites an example of the king of ghazals Jagjit Singh who sings ghazals as per strict music notations in his albums but whenever he performs live in front of the audience, he improvises upon his own music and adds a new flavour to the performance. He also gives an opportunity to all other people accompanying him with various musical instruments to improvise. Ashok ji says, “When western people improvise on our music, we say it is fusion but when an Indian improvises on any music, it is frowned upon.” He prefers playing Indian music on a chromatic harmonica rather than playing the same on a diatonic harmonica by bending notes. He loves to hear harmonica players playing Indian Raagas and Folk. He says that he isn’t a good harmonica player, however he is a good performer and knows how to mesmerize his audience with his harmonica. A majority of his harmonica audiences on internet are foreigners who enjoy his Indian music. According to him, there is a lot of scope for harmonica to develop as a professional music instrument in India.

All time favourite:

Ashok ji’s all time favourite is the Hohner Super Chromonica 270 which was also played by late Milon da in India. Currently, he has a collection comprising Hohner Super Chromonica 270, Hohner Chromonica 3 (Old model now discontinued), Hohner 64 professional and Hering. This music in the video is played on a Suzuki Slider SC-64 harmonica. Though he owns a few diatonic harmonicas, he plays straight in first position.

Harmonica school:

Ashok ji has recently started teaching harmonica to students at Delhi. He also has a few online foreign students. He intends to promote the harmonica among school students. He says “Just imagine 400 school students playing the harmonica simultaneously. Imagine the sweet sound of harmonica with so many players. When a few thousand harmonica players abroad can create a world record of playing the harmonica together, why can’t we Indians?”

Message to all harmonica lovers:

Magician Ashok Bhandari is thankful to various online harmonica groups and forums, different blogs and websites pertaining to harmonica for promoting this instrument. He says “We should avoid having ego and petty quarrels between various harmonica players. Criticism on one’s rendition should be taken positively to improve our knowledge about music and harmonica playing skills. Friends, lets keep the harmonica flag high”

Harmonica Our Passion!


HaLoH goes on air..

On 21st Nov’2009 6pm-8pm, Harmonica Lovers of Hyderabad Rajkumar Gavvala and I played the harmonica live for two hours on RED FM 93.5, A popular radio channel in AP. Apart from the live harmonica renditions, there was a chat on this tiny little instrument with radio jockey Sunayana(We pleasantly surprised, when we realized that Sunayana ( An award winning movie Ammoru fame) is the RJ for our show.She was a very good child artist in good number of Telugu films and I believe most of the people in AP feel like Sunayana is their family member.The two hours show was finished like two minutes with her mind blowing jockeying skills.

The RED FM 93.5 team was so impressed by the harmonica music, that they requested to play some more songs on harmonica for them after the programme and RJ Sunayana introduced us to her better half Mr Vinay, both are made for each other. Other HaLoH members too enjoyed the live of this programme from their homes along with their family.

Quality thats for ever..

Prasad..Passion for harmonica.

A harmonica lover Mr Prasad , An employee of Google India happened to listen our live harmonica live programme in RED FM 93.5 on radio in his car and he was excited to learn that there is an umbrella titled “HaLoH” in Hyderabad which is very active in promoting the harmonica.He turned up for the gathering today on 22nd Nov’09 at Indira park to celebrate the 76th birth anniversary of the harmonica legend Shri Milon Gupta.He told he lost the touch with harmonica over ten years but with a ten hole diatonic he played not less than ten songs flawlessly.HaLoH welcomes Prasad.

HaLoH celebrates 79th birth anniversary of Shri Milon Gupta.

RED FM 93.5 live of HaLoH programme from Indira park

The special agenda of today’s gathering on Sunday 22nd Nov’09 at Indira Park was to celebrate the 76th birth anniversary of Indian harmonica legend Shri Milon Gupta.

Milon da’s photograph was honored with garland and shawl by HaLoH members. Since this harmonica legend no more with us the same shawl was gifted to his student and back bone of HaLoH Shri Vinayak B. On this occasion the RED FM 93.5 had broadcasted one more live programme for one hour 8am-9am from Indira park. This was RJ Sunayana’s Interactive session with us on harmonica and HaLoH activities, Mr Ravibabu played harmonica live on the mobile phone through which the programme was broadcasted.This was the one of the happiest moment for the Harmonica Lovers of Hyderabad(HaLoH).

Harmonica lover Uday's journey to happiness starts..

The melody of love just let out a perfect tune. Congratulations on your wedding!


Our deepest condolences!

Our sincere thoughts and prayers are always with you.


A reason to smile!

It is our firm faith that music is the language of God made us believe that it is nothing less than a miracle when we received a call from Dr.Rao of GOLD AGE ASHRAM AND HOSPITAL, a home for the aged people since 1979, to entertain the resident senior citizens under their loving care this Sunday, on the 8th of November 2009.These senior citizens had a reason to smile as they enjoyed our renditions on the harmonica. This is the first performance of HaLoH for the outsiders.
As soon as we entered the premises of GOLDAGE we were totally engulfed by the divine atmosphere pervading there and we were possessed by their motto - I Love You, I Surrender to You, and I Serve You.
Our faith got strengthened even further when we realized that we got our maiden chance to associate ourselves as HaLoH with the people who were selflessly serving the inmates as a mother takes care of her own children. Some of them were from families that were well off and their children were reluctant to take care of their parents. Some senior citizens were so sick that their physiotherapist Dr.Rao was surprised to see them tap their legs and clap along with the music that was being played on the harmonica.
Rajkumar Gavvala began our performance with the song… Chinnari ponnari puvvu(means..Oh tiny little flower in Telugu) and followed by golden melodies, devotional songs and few bhajans at the end of the programme as a group we played our national anthem Jana gana mana on harmonica.
At the conclusion of our performance we received blessings of all the mothers present there, which gave us further strength, changed our outlook towards life and we stepped out with a new vision.

Thus begins the Golden age of HaLoH with GOLDAGE.

Harmonica Lovers of Hyderabad (clockwise) Ashwin, Mahendra gala, Ravibabu,A.Rajkumar,Vinayak, and Shivraj completely engrossed when they are playing for residents of Goldage.

I enjoyed playing Mera jutha hein japanie from Shri.420 at Goldage.

They are all just 7yr old with 70yrs memories.

HaLoH meeting at Chennai?

I was confused for few seconds when I learnt from Kailashnath over phone that HaLoH meeting was held at Chennai. Actually, two Harmonica Lovers of Hyderabad Vijay Konda, Kailashnath met at Chennai during their official visit. They compensated their absence on this Sunday Goldage programme by meeting at a hotel in Chennai.


HaLoH meet up on Sunday 1st Nov ' 09

This sunday, 16 harmonica lovers attended the meeting at Indira Park, Hyderabad. There were some new faces to grace the occasion. They were Shri Nageswara Rao, a retired employee of AP Govt., Jayaram and Ravindra who are students of Osmania University School of Foreign Languages, and Sirish, who learnt about HaLoH through this blog. Another new member Mr Ravi Babu is seen playing DIL DIL SE MILAKAR DEKHO from the movie MEMSAHIB in this photograph. Mr Vinayak accompanied him with his whistling.


Master Nityam Bhimani's Pyar diwana hotha hein..

Master Nityam Bhimani learning harmonica and music from Mr Vinayak since 5 months,Today we asked him to play a song for us, then he played this number as per the notations.


With love from Amritsar

This Sunday maximum Harmonica Lovers present at Indira Park including Mr.Ravi Babu, an ex-servicemen in Indian Army who came to HaLoH for the first time after seeing this blog with his 3 professional M.SUZUKI harmonicas and played very good numbers of Rajkapoor melodies includes Dum dum diga diga..HaLoH welcomes Mr.Ravi Babu anticipating long association.
Vijay Konda came with a concealed article and told us to reveal. So we all together opened with most curiosity its beautiful photo frame of Lord.Ganesha came from Amrithsar.

HaLoH team posing with memento sent from Amritsar by Harmonica Lover Mr.Harish Nayyar.

Harmonica Lover of Hyderabad Mr.Vijay Konda visited Amritsar recently to meet another Harmonica Lover Mr.Harish Nayyar.

Mr.Harish Nayyar, A business man aged about 37 years has been playing harmonica since his college days.

People wonder how he plays so effortlessly on his Tower chromatic harmonica. Mr.Harish Nayyar played a perfect host and impressed Mr.Vijay Konda with his hospitality.

HaLoH team thanks Mr.Harish Nayyar for the memento and his wishes, to view the videos of Mr.Harish Nayyar please visit…



Happy Deepawali

HaLoH wishes you a Happy Deepawali and a Prosperous year ahead.


HaLoH launch event

Harmonica Lovers of Hyderabad garlanded Maa.Saraswathi then proceeded further..

Chi.Nityam Bhimani,Yash.Jain.Betai the Jr.most Harmonica Lovers lighted the 1st lamp then Shri.Shivraj Sr.most Harmonica Lover lighted the 2nd lamp to inaugurate HaLoH.

Shri.Sabnavees, Sr.harmonica player of Hyderabad garlanded the photograph of the harmonica legend Shri.Milon Gupta

Shri.Kantha Rao garu our mentor, revealing the logo of HaLoH

Harmonica Lovers Vijay Konda, Ramana and Vinayak sharing a light moment just before launching the blog.

Shri.Kantha Rao garu , launching this blog.

Shri.Vinayak B, student of harmonica legend Shri.Milon Gupta has addressed the gathering , given below is the transcription of his speech..
I thank each and everybody in being part of this event on this auspicious occasion and especially Shri.Kantha Rao garu, under his patronship we are all here today and forming as HaLoH-Harmonica Lovers of Hyderabad. I wanted to clarify what Harmonica Lovers of Hyderabad are. Harmonica Lovers of Hyderabad is not a club, its not an organization, its not a new entity at all, its just an identity. those who love harmonica ,play harmonica,love to play harmonica, those they don’t know anything about harmonica but they want to learn harmonica,those because of their old age or disabilities cant play harmonica but they appreciate harmonica-those are natural members of HaLoH. That is why we are not made any charter to HaLoH, no rules and no restrictions for HaLoH.we are going to give a little bit publicity to the world that such group exists in some corner of the globe. to become a part of HaLoH, there are no restrictions whether one plays a diatonic,chromatic or any other kind of harmonica-which may be either Indian or foreign. playing Indian or western on Hohner or Tower is a Harmonica Lover.
Across the globe, whomever think he loves harmonica are natural members of HaLoH. Again, the name-Hyderabad doesn’t suit here because when it is here, we don’t want to restrict it but we want to express our thoughts to the world we are here in Hyderabad which is why we have incorporated the name Hyderabad here.The people who are part of HaLoH are free to join any other harmonica clubs they wish,it doesn’t seize them to be a Harmonica Lover of Hyderabad. Even if they want to start their own club or group, they are very much welcome we will support them whole heartedly in all means. so everybody irrespective of any alliance to any club, HaLoH just exists as a name as a flag under which we all assemble.
There is a saying “Music is a language of God” then I would say my personal view let us make this tiny, humble instrument the tool for liberation..

Thank you very much..

Harmonica Lovers Ramana and Ashwin.Jain.betai honouring our mentor Shri.Kantha Rao garu

Harmonica Lovers Ramana and Mahendra Gala honouring Shri.Rajkumar Gavvala who is the senior most harmonica player known to us in Andhra Pradesh. His introduction given below..

Shri.Rajkumar Gavvala was born on Dec. 3rd, 1948 at Secunderabad A.P. started playing harmonica at a very tender age inspired by the harmonica music in the super hit hindi movie “Dosti.” His first harmonica was an Indian made Bharath Harmonica. Even at that tender age he was being invited to play mouth organ in cultural programs. He won many music competitions while in school. He also learned to play violin under the tutelage of Smt. Pusala Manorama, grand daughter of the famous carnatic violinist Shri Dwaram Venkata Swamy Naidu. His most memorable event came when he was invited to play to commemorate the golden jubilee of Osmania University. Since then he never turned back.
A globe trotter. He played Indian tunes on harmonica wherever he went to like Sri Lanka, Bangkok, Nepal, Singapore, Malaysia, Germany, Austria,France, Italy, Rome, UK, Belgium, Netherlands and Ireland etc. and also from street corners to prestigious auditoriums of Hyderabad.Now retired after serving the govt. of Andhra Pradesh and the people, as a superintendent of Panchayat Raj Department.
HaLoH team salutes this great personality for playing the harmonica for the last 53 years.

1.Mr.Rajkumar playing harmonica in full swing at age of 18 1n 1966 at Hyderabad

2.Co-passengers enjoying harmonica played by Rajkumar who is accompanied by a Guitarist in a steamer on their way to Ceylon I 1978.

3.Rajkumar playing harmonica at an event 1n 1983.

4.Rajkumar attending an harmonica event on 30th Nov1998 at Mumbai. This event was organized by the pride of Indian Harmonica.Phiroze Damri.

5.In 2001 Rajkumar still performing on stage for a cultural program being organized by AP forest Dept.


HaLoH team from left Mahendra Gala,Rajkumar.G,Vijay Konda,Master.Yash,Ashwin,Shivraj,Ramana,Kantha Rao,Rajkumar.A,Vinayak,master.Nityam,Shara Bhimani,Blaisse and Uday behind camera


HaLoH greets Harmonica nation on the eve of Gandhi Jayanthi

Gandhiji is one of the greatest of men born on earth. He sacrificed a life of luxury for the sake of our country. He gave the world the precious message of non-violence. He and his teachings so influenced men that he had followers all over the world. Mahatma Gandhi’s greatness lies in his teachings; Truth and Non-violence, and in his economic policy Grama Swaraj or Sarvodaya.
In truth and non-violence, we have a practical universal creed that can unite the whole world in a bond of love and peace. Truth and non-violence form the essence of every religion. Even if a person does not follow the rules of any religion, he can become spiritually great. No religion teaches you falsehood and violence. Non-violence is only another name for love just as violence is another name for hatred. Gandhiji not only preached truth and non-violence, but he practiced them. That is why he is called Mahatma (great soul).
Mahatma Gandhi’s economic policy Grama Swaraj is meant for us, i.e.., for India. We can rebuild our economy and become prosperous through Grama Swaraj. Moreover, Grama Swaraj can provide employment to all the villagers in every village. Thus the problem of unemployment can be solved.

World Peace can be established by following Truth and Non-violence. We can solve the problem of unemployment and become prosperous through Grama Swaraj. That is why Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings are relevant today.

HaLoH tributes to father of nation Mahatma Gandhiji.


HaLoH inauguration

HaLoH team expresses its grattitude to our Mentor Shri.Kantha Rao garu for inaugurating HaLoH and its blog at their Ananda Nilayam(we call it as sacred place for music) on this auspiceous day, 28th of Sept'2009(Vijayadashami)
more info on launh event will published shortly.


This blog is dedicated to the harmonica legend Shri.Milon Gupta

This legendary personality was born on 22nd November 1930 in Calcutta. His mother was a very accomplished singer in Calcutta having sung in the All India Radio. As a child he used to play the ordinary mouth organs till one marine engineer person from Dover Road / Deodar Street of Calcutta (where Milon Gupta used to live) got him two Hohner Chromatic Harmonicas. And there began the journey of the great Milon Gupta. A self taught musician with absolutely no formal training, he single handedly took the mouth organ to levels never attained in India. He showed that how a pure Western Instrument with such complications and limitations can be adapted to play Indian melodies and songs with all the perfect nuances. This was evident in his early days itself when he was mesmerising audiences with his skillful playing of songs like ''palkir gaan'', ''gayer bodhu'', ''Ayega anewala'', ''jago mohan pyaare'' and many more, which till then was unheard of being played on a mouh organ. Such was his repertoire and mastery over that instrument that he soon got noticed by the great composer Salil Chowdhury, whilst he was performing at a local concert. This was way back in 1950-51. Soon came ''Pasher Badi'', a very successful movie in Bengal in those days (which later got remade as Padosan in Hindi), and that movie marked the begining of Milon Gupta's mouth organ being used in films. Soon he set for Bombay and played in innumerable movies like Naukri, CID, Dost, Dosti, Roti, Kashmir ki Kali, Patita, to name a few. He played under the distinguished composers like Salil Chowdhury, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, SD Burman, Kalyanji Anandji, Shankar Jaikishen, OP Nayyar, Mukul Roy, Sudhin Dasgupta, Manna De, Shyamal Mitra, Hemant Kumar and many more. He spent a number of years assisting OP Nayyar and in one of his sittings with OP Nayyar and Majrooh Sultanpuri, the famous Yeh Hain Bombay meri jaan was created. The story goes how OP Nayyar asked him to play that particular western number and Majrooh saab wrote the lyrics on the spot. This was later narrated by Milon Gupta in an interview on Television a few years before his death. His command over Western music on the instrument was unparalalled. He had a school of sudents who would only learn Latin and Western music from him. Even though he had no formal training, he was equally fluent with both the Indian notation as well as the Western Stave notation. People who have his private recordings of western playing have often compared him to the great Larry Adler who once met Milon Gupta when he came to India for the only time. Almost unbelievable as it may sound, but he adapted this instrument to play kirtans and rabindrasangeet with as much finesse as he used to play Western. It was because of Milon Gupta that this instrument reach the height of its popularity in India. The old timers in Deodar street still recollect how SD Burman used to drive to his house regularly to drop our very own RD Burman to take lessons from Milon Gupta. A fact unknown to many, he was one of the only person in India who knew how to repair and retune the mouth organ. He used to spend every Monday to repair mouth organs for hundreds of his students all across the country. Again unbelievable as it may sound in today's world, he never charged a penny for that. Milon Gupta has innumerable 78 rpms, LPs, EPs, cassettes and CDs to his credit, most of them being smashing hits across the country. Songs played by him like ''o sajna barkha bahar ayi'', ''Ajeeb dastan hain'', ''Aj koi nahin apni'', ''Zindagi kaisi hain paheli'' and many others sound as if the songs were composed keeping him and his instrument in mind. The mouth organ, as he always used to call it, became a household instrument because of him and after his death on 18th February, 1995, the instrument has almost faded into oblivion from the Indian film and music industry. A perfect gentleman, who was lovingly referred to as Milonda by all and sundry last played some mesmerising interludes in Nachiketa's (one of Calcutta's most popular singers) a few months before his death, giving the audience a taste of the Larry Adler influence on him. A great cook, a perfect gentleman, our very own Milonda is still referred to as one of the finest soloist this country has ever seen.
(Courtesy : Shri.Milon Gupta's nephew Mr. Arijit Mukherji)