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Monday, June 2, 2014

Movie Music Monday: Sankara Eye Foundation brings Sonu Nigam's soul Klose to Southern California

Film Flam Flummox

The first time I saw Indian music superstar Sonu Nigam perform live was in August of 2006; while at that point he was already long one of the leading playback singers in the Indian film industry, with many hit songs from numerous hit films under his belt, his "Simply Sonu" tour stop in Southern California was held in the large but fairly lower-profile venue of the Terrace Theatre in Long Beach. Even so, his formidable stage presence, ease with an audience, boundless energy, and--above all else--that golden, mellifluous voice sounding just as flawless as his studio-recorded tracks made for a night that felt like it was the hottest ticket in the biggest venue, never mind the fairly moderate production values of a tight but talented band and backup singing troupe, and a handful of backup dancers.

Flash ahead eight years later to this past Saturday, May 31, and Nigam's "Klose to My Soul" tour has not only has its local stop in one of the largest and leading local venues, the gigantic Nokia Theatre L.A. Live, but also has near-capacity audience to witness Nigam perform backed by no less than a 45-member orchestra. But even with the larger, cavernous hall and a larger group sharing the stage, Nigam was the clear star, just edging out the memorable material he's lent his voice to over the years, from his now-signature song, the title tune to Nikhil Adhvani's classic 2003 tearjerker Kal Ho Naa Ho--which, as in the show I was at eight years ago, was the big finale here--to more recent hits such as the gorgeous and emotional "Abhu Mujh Mein Kahin" from 2012's Agneepath.

But remaining just as large as Nigam's talent and charisma is his heart, for the proceeds to this show and the tour as a whole go to Sankara Eye Foundation, which reaches out to the rural poor and provide quality eye care free of cost to the needy by building operationally self-sufficient super specialty eye care hospitals across India, with the ultimate goal being the complete eradication of curable blindness in India. It's a fitting cause to be paired with a voice so vividly expressive, especially when experienced live.

(photo by Surendra Prakash)

(photo by Surendra Prakash)

(photo by Surendra Prakash)

(photo by Surendra Prakash)

(Special thanks to Sankara Eye Foundation)

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