Harmonica Lover of the week: Big B(handari)

Harmonica Lover of the week: Big B(handari)

Our harmonica lover of this week is Mr Ashok Bhandari who is a magician and performs on the harmonica as well. Earlier, we have already uploaded some articles on him along with his videos on this blog. This week, we are uploading two of his videos of the same song, but in different effects. The first one is single note playing and the second one is with TREMOLO effect. This song "Suhaani Chaandni Raaten..." is from the film "Mukti". It was composed by R.D.Burman and sung by Mukesh.

"Tremolo" is an effect where two notes of a particular reference are tuned slightly apart to get that wavering effect. One note is slightly sharpened than the reference note to get this tremolo effect. This effect can be either achieved by playing a song on a tremolo harmonica or by some special effects during recording. However, for a song which also requires chromatic notes, it may not be feasible to play this on the ordinary tremolo harmonica and one may need a special Suzuki SCT-128 Tremolo-Chromatic harmonica for the same. Please listen to these videos to differentiate between regular effect and tremolo effect. This song is wonderfully played by wonderking big B(handari). Any guesses of how he achieved this effect ? ;-)


HaloH celebrates world music day!

Harmonica Lovers of Hyderabad (HaLoH) celebrated world music day this Sunday. The celeberations were held at Tank Bund in the morning and at "Dhola Ri Dhani" resort in the evening. The members of HaLoH gathered at these two public places and performed for the general public.

World Music Day ( FĂȘte de la Musique) originated in France, where since 1982 it has taken place annually on June 21 (or the nearest weekend). The event consists of free performances organized in parks, public squares, sidewalks and indoor venues, as well as unofficial concerts given along city streets. Anyone can make music on World Music Day, in some cases in any location, provided one rule is followed: The music must be free because the performers donate their time for free. Through its 19-year history, the event has gradually caught on internationally, and a host of cities and countries worldwide now observe the day either independently or with help from local French consulates or cultural associations. What is now known internationally as World Music Day is celebrated in 110 countries.

Morning session at Tank Bund:

There was a good response from the passers by at Tank Bund which is located in the heart of the city. One by one, all the members played the harmonica. The passers by stopped for a moment to enjoy the music. Many vehicles slowed down to witness this programme and some even stopped for a moment to enjoy the event. Few pics of harmonica lovers and passers by taken at Tank Bund are pasted below.

World music day celebrations- Evening session at Dhola Ri Dhani

The evening session was cool as well. HaLoH members performed for the visitors at this resort. Some visitors were carried away by the music and started dancing along. There was a good round of applause and some songs were also played on public demand. The pics pasted below will be interesting to watch.

This was a small effort made by HaLoH for all music lovers on World Music Day. The members were also very happy to promote the harmonica and create awareness about this beautiful musical instrument.

Harmonica Our Passion!


My experience at Ahmedabad- "Atithi devo bhavah"

In our Indian custom, we believe "Atithi devo bhavah" which means- "Guest is God". This is how I was treated on my visit to Ahmedabad by another harmonica lover Shri Keyur Shah. He took leave from his work and even managed to change his family members' routine just to play a perfect host in extending a warm welcome to me in Ahmedabad. We had a great session playing and discussing the harmonica. I still can't forget the hospitality experienced by me as his guest.

Keyur bhai, a harmonica lover from Ahmedabad is a nice and outspoken gentleman who calls spade a spade. He works for a stock broking firm. He was first motivated to play the harmonica by one of his friends when he was studying in 10th standard. He liked the tiny instrument for its sweet sound and ease in carrying it anywhere. He started playing some songs on the "Hero" tremolo harmonica. After playing for around 2 yrs, he was preoccupied with other activities and quit playing the harmonica. Recently, 1 and a 1/2 yrs ago, he restarted again from scratch. Today, he plays the harmonica pretty well. He has a Hohner 270 Deluxe and a Hohner 280. He loves the sound of his Hohner 270 DX. After such a long gap, he has picked up his harmonica skills pretty fast. He has also been seriously studying music theory which according to him is a must for every music lover. He also plays the guitar and keyboard with ease. When asked about his philosophy of life, he replies “Live life Kingsize". "However, I don't smoke :-))) " he adds with a laughter.

I'm attaching a song played by him in the video. I hope you'll enjoy listening to his rendition "Pardesia yeh sach hai piya" from the movie "Mr Natwarlal". The music was directed by Rajesh Roshan and the songs were sung by Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar. Also attached are a few pics I had taken in Ahmedabad.

My narration of Ahmedabad trip would be incomplete without mentioning my visit to Mahatma Gandhi's Sabarmati ashram. I longed to visit this place as I am a firm believer of his teachings. Moreover, I also share my birthday with "Bapu" on the 2nd of October :-) I believe in "ahimsa" and follow the principle of Gandhi ji's three monkeys- "Speak no evil, See no evil, Hear no evil"


Salaam Pune

I'm sure most of you must have heard about the recent harmonica concert “Melodies on Harmonica” in Pune on 22nd May 2010. I was lucky to attend that concert. Thanks to harmonica lover from Pune-Mr Amaresh Deshpande who arranged me the front row tickets on my requisition through a phone call.

I often heard there is no encouragement for harmonica in India, but I changed my opinion after seeing the crowd outside Yeshwantrao Chavan Natyagruha before the programme. I was surprised to see the crowd, that too for a "ticket" programme! Yes, the programme was not free-of-cost and the people had purchased the tickets for the show. I was one among those curious harmonica lovers waiting impatiently to listen to the harmonica live by the great harmonica players like Shri.Madan Kumar, Shri Nandu Belvalkar, Shri Upendra Laxmeshwar, Shri Shamkanth Suthar and Shri Vishwanath Shirali. The auditorium was almost full with more than 700 people and the most awaited programme started sharply at 9.30 pm as per the schedule.

Programme started with "Papa kehthe hai bada nam karega by master.Sarang Rajguru followed by

"Yehi woh jaga hai" by female harmonica player Miss Girija Shirurkar, "Maine tere liye hi sath rang ke", Titanic theme songs by students of the harmonica institute of Pune, "Aaa Chalke tujhe" by Shri Bhupendra Kumar, "Ye mere dil pyar ka diwana" by Shri Pratap Basale, "Gore gore" by Shri Hemanth Gadre. These are few numbers I can recollect.

Some songs were really good and got standing ovation from the people. They were,-"Inteha ho gayi intezaar ki" (Sharabhi), "Oh hansini", "Gulabi ankhen" by Shri VS Shirali, "O mere sonare sonare" by Shri Madan Kumar accompanied by Shri Nandu Belvalkar on the chord harmonica, "Kya yahi pyar hai" solo by Shri Nandu Belvalkar played with 10 holes Swan chromatic harmonica, "Chakke pe chakka"( Brahmachari) by Shri Upendra Laxmeshwar, "Disla ga bai disla" (A marathi song from film: Pinjara), "Mere yaar shabba khair" played by Shri Shamkanth Sutar and "Apsara ali" (Another Marathi song from film:Natarang) played by Shri Amaresh Deshpande.

Special attraction in the programme were saxophone accompaniment by Shri Anil Karmarkar and the Anchor Shri Sidharth Bendre.

My cousin Mr Ganesh, a software engineer in Pune and I enjoyed our weekend in the harmonica concert by the great players. As a break from all the writing stuff, I thought I'd share a few of my photos with you...

Rendezvous with Shri Michael Pokish, Shri Nandu Belvalkar and Shri VS Shirali :

The next morning, I met Shri Micheal Pokish at his DO-Say restaurant. (He does whatever he says :-)) I was amused when he asked me in Telugu -“challani majjiga thraguthara?" (would you like to have butter milk?). He had stayed in Hyderabad for about 10 years. We went to his home and he showed his grand collection of harmonicas and played few tunes for me on harmonica.

Then I went to "Belvalkar's Anand Dham" to see Mr Nandu Belvalkar in person. Here, I got an opportunity to meet another renouned harmonica player Shri VS Shirali. We had a great time discussing harmonica as well playing some tunes.

Hope you've enjoyed seeing my visit to “melodies on harmonica” photos. If you've never been to Pune Harmonica concerts, I highly recommend it in future for a relaxing break from your work pressure. The climate is warm, the food excellent, the beauty stunning and the people are genuinely welcoming towards their guests.

Salam Pune!


Rustom Karwa rocks in Hyderabad

"Ramannaa? This is Rustom Karwa here. See, I am coming over to Hyderabad tomorrow, we can meet” I got this call in the evening on 8th June ’10. I was overjoyed by his call. I was longing to meet him face-to-face for quite some time. Rustom ji is so kind that he gave me his complete itinerary for the 9th of June.

Rustom ji is a well known personality in Bollywood and has been a favourite of many music directors for playing the harmonica in their films. He is also famous for his whistling which he does in movies. I also got the opportunity to listen to his whistling during my interaction with him.

I met the harmonica maestro Shri Rustom Karwa at a 7 star hotel in Hyderabad, where he was going to perform on the harmonica along with his huge 21 piece acoustic instrumental orchestra from Mumbai for a private gathering in Hyderabad. The moment I saw him I touched his feet to seek his blessings “Hey, please don’t do that….. I am still alive” said Rustom Ji by holding my shoulder.

I had little inhibition to enter the hotel and I wanted to leave the place without giving any trouble to Rustom ji but he (Rustom ji) took me into the hotel and offered me a seat. He introduced me to the event managers as a harmonica friend. For a moment, I forgot myself by seeing the arrangements of the stage.

I enjoyed myself throughout the concert. I got an opportunity to watch a 45 minutes non stop musical recital by world famous “Maske electrical strings trio-Australia” on the same stage, in between the musical concert by sitting next to Shri Rustom Karwa :-) I’m uploading the video of “Maske electrical strings trio” (Not recorded by me) It was a memorable moment for me.

Rustom ji was kind to share his experiences with me for almost an hour while sitting in the Hotel. He was delighted on learning that HaLoH possesses his original EP which was recorded in 1970 by Polydor Company. Thanks to Rustom Ji for presenting me the copy of the same EP in CD with his autograph.

Please enjoy the video of Rustom ji’s live performance which I had captured using my mobile phone. Please excuse me for the poor video quality.

Rendezvous with Arijit Da

Recently, Shri Arijit Mukherjee- a great player and the nephew of harmonica legend Late Shri Milon Gupta, visited Hyderabad. HaLoH members Shri Vinayak B., Shri Vijay Konda, Shri Ravi Babu and I (Avinesh Singh) got the opportunity to meet Arijit Da at Tata guest house in Jubilee hills. Thanks to Shri Vinayak B. for coordinating the meeting.

After a brief chat with him, we quickly realized that he was very polite, straight forward and a nice human being. We all played our favourite songs in front of him and he explained our strengths, weaknesses and ways to overcome those weaknesses. This was very interesting part of the meeting. On our request he started playing Hohner 270. He explained facts by demonstrating the same on his harmonica using examples of appropriate songs. He played many famous classic songs. All of us had many clarifications on harmonica and he was very co-operative, supportive and happy to answer all of them.

He explained us a very systematic approach towards learning the harmonica and emphasized on using proper notations, ragas and clear single notes. Of the many things which he explained, few of the important things were- when to play chords and when not on a harmonica, how to hold harmonica properly, which songs are suitable for playing on a harmonica and which are not suitable, how to simplify notes without losing the essence, which harmonica should we use in Hindi Bollywood and Western songs etc.

To conclude, I have to say that we met a very nice, technical and professional human being who was totally impartial in exchanging ideas for the benefit of harmonica community. On the lighter side, he promised us a good party when he meets us in Hyderabad next month.



- Avinesh Singh


Hello HaLoH!

It was a very warm day with hot current of air blowing on the roads of Hyderabad, the city of Nizams. Being a harmonica enthusiast from Jaipur and a virtual member of HaLoH, I was desperate to meet some harmonica lovers for the first time. I first met Ramana Illaiyaraja at Abids. It was my second meeting with him after we met at Jaipur. Then, Shri B. Vinayak, a senior harmonica lover was just in time. Very soon, I saw Shri Avinesh Singh driving at Abids. We all went to Nampally station to meet Shri Vijay Konda. I was impressed by the way these guys coordinated and gathered in a very short span of time. I relished my favourite Vijaya buttermilk during our casual meeting before saying good bye to Vijay Konda.

All of us travelled to Avinesh ji's residence and had a musical session. I was impressed by the harmonica skills of these people. Each one had their own speciality. Avinesh ji showed his collection of harmonicas and played the harmonica. A few of his styles reminded me of Big Bhandari Ashok ji. Vinayak ji's harmonica recital reminded me of Milon da. Ramana too impressed me with his latest recording and he played a song using a karaoke track on his favourite mobile handset. I took valuable tips on playing the harmonica from Vinayak ji. We never felt that we were meeting for the first time. In fact, we felt as if we knew each other very well. After savouring some snacks at Avinesh ji's place, it was time to say good bye to each other.

Before leaving Hyderabad, I enjoyed my supper at 'Kamat' with my friend Ramana. Though I could not meet other harmonica lovers, I made it a point to talk to Shri Kailashnath over phone. On my request, even though it was dark, Ramana showed me the gate of Indira Park where HaLoH meeting takes place every Sunday morning. I wished to see the "BODHI" tree under which HaLoH members achieved "Nirvana" after playing the harmonica under it ;-) I wish to visit Hyderabad again to meet other harmonica lovers under that tree in Indira Park.

-Raman Khandelwal, Jaipur.


"Mere naina sawan bhadon" by Big B(handari)

This is a very emotional song played by Shri Ashok Bhandari on the harmonica. This song was sung by Kishore da in 1976 for the film Mehbooba. It was picturised on the romantic hero of those times -Rajesh Khanna. "Big Bhandari" has done justice to this song. He has also played it in different octaves. The sound in lower octave really gives that emotional touch to this song. Here are both the clips attached for your listening pleasure. HaLoH thanks Shri Ashok Bhandari for recording this clip for this blog.