The Annual Charminar Connection Show in California
Sadath Sayeed, California
It was an evening to remember - A glittering Diaspora of Hyderabadis, dressed in sherwanis, jodhpuri suit, suit & tie, beautiful embroidered sarees and kurta-pyjama, and shirt –shalwars, attended the Annual Charminar Connection show on Saturday, Oct. 25th, 2008 in Fremont, California. This year’s event had a touch of everything – humor, elegance, spontaneous dances, great cuisine, nice coutures, great music and a lot of khuloos from the hosts. One of the highlights of the evening was the presentation of the Personality of the Year award to a Bay Area icon, Mr. Waheed Siddiqee, who also heads the Association of Retired American Muslims (ARAM), for his outstanding contribution and service to the community. This is another example of what Charminar Connection (affectionately known as CC here) means and has become, to the Hyderabadi community here and the world over. The award was presented by the Patriarch of CC, Mr. Mirza Ahmed Baig. The main program started with a funny skit by the Khan Brothers – Shah Rukh Khan and Saif Ali Khan – played by our very own emcees, Athar Siddiqee and Marwan Majid. One tried to speak Hyderabadi dialogues in his ABCD style Urdu and the other breezed through it with typical Hyderabadi fluency, reminding folks of “Hamed Kamal and Abid Dedhmatwale” shows of the 1970s – 1980s. A big hand to both of them for doing a great job and keeping the crowd in splits. I think they have a greater future than SRK and SAK :)
The Star of the CC Show was none other than our own “Voice of Mohd. Rafi” Hyderabadi, Mr. Javid Raza, whose beautiful voice and quiet old world charm enthralled the audience for the next 3 ½ to 4 hours. He opened the show with “Subhanallah Subhanallah” song from Fanaa and was later joined on the stage by the Bay Area local singers, Mrs. Minu Shukla and Ms. Sangeeta Rezay. Javid Raza sang such favorites like, “ Sau baar janam leinge..”, “Tere mere sapne ab ek rang hai..”, Dil ka bawar kare hai”, Zindagi bhar nahin bhoolengi yeh barsaat ki raat”, “Nawazish karm shukhriya meherbani”, and the hauntingly beautiful Sufi song, “Anken teri kitni haseen” and a host of others. Javid Raza had the crowd in a jhoom with “Dard-e-Disco” and “Tumse milke dil ka yeh haal kya huwa”. Mini Shukla made an instant impression on the audience by her bubbly enthusiasm and beautiful voice, especially during the song, “Kaisi yeh pehli hai yeh zindagani” and “Aao huzoor aao..”, and the hauntingly beautiful duets with Javid Raza, namely “Chup gaye sare nazarein woi kya baat ho gayee..”, “ Chura liya hai tumne jo dil ko..”, and a host of others.Not to be outdone, Sangeeta had some beautiful duets with Javid Raza too, namely, “Teri ankhon ke siva duniya mein rakha kya hai” and “sau saal pehle mujhe tumse pyaar tha..” and solos like “Jaane kyon log mohabbath kiya karte hain”.
Before I come to the end of the program, this report will be incomplete without the mention of the excellent food and table decorations. The menu included such items as hyderabadi biryani, bagare baigan, taleevi bhendi, butter chicken, naan, shaahi kheer, dhahi wade, paneer pokoras, and vegetarian noodles. Each table had a candlelight setting with a red velvet Charminar-embossed pouch, filled with dry fruits, chaaliya and supari.
After a brief interlude to honor the singers with flower bouquets presented by the ladies of CC Organizing Committee, the songs got racier and shoe-tapping as the evening progressed, thus bringing a breath of fresh air. One such number was a three-way duet, “Kajra re..”, complete with Ash-like gyrations that had the crowd on its feet (I mean, jumping on their chairs) and setting the mood for more to come. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the Javid-Mini duet of “Beedi Jalai ley” that had one true-blue Hyderabadi on his feet and on the dance floor, igniting the audience with his crazy dance moves. Then came the beautiful duet, “Abhi na jaao chhod ke, ke dil abhi bhara nahin…”, as if the crowd was telling Javid Raza and Mini not to end the program – this song epitomized the feelings of the hundreds in the audience, who wanted more as “dil hamara bhi bhara nahin”.
As is always true, all good things have to come to an end, and so did our show with another backbreaker. Javid Raza closed the show with the “Yeh Ishq hai baithe bethaye jannat dikhaye hai” from JAB WE MET that turned out to be JAB HE LEFT. On popular demand from Javid Bhai, the true blue Hyderabadi danced to this number and was later joined on the dance floor by others from the audience.