If Mohammed Aslam went on to deliver 17 songs at the hospital, it was because he chose to graciously accept requests from the crowd. If the famed playback singer didn’t go for the 18th and even more, it was only because the sun was up above the head and the day was getting hot.
The Bangalore-based artist made the 248th episode of the Art and Medicine particularly at General Hospital in Ernakulam memorable today with his two-hour concert that was intermittent with pep talk. “I have always felt so close to the cause here, of healing through music,” he said, lauding the weekly show being organised by the Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF). “I wish I keep coming here more often. And sing at the 1000th episode.”
Aslam, also a stage performer who began giving public performances at the age of 13, had sung at the all-Wednesday series last year. That time, he was approached by the Mehboob Memorial Orchestra that had been co-hosting the programme and continues to be integral to the mission. “My experience tells me that people in Kerala love music,” noted the artiste, known for his associations with top composer A R Rahman. “I have seen music acting as real medication.”
Today’s 248th episode has particular significance: it is the first since the Foundation’s fourth edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale began on December 12. The previous episode was held on Tuesday (December 11), as the organisers didn’t want the date to clash with the inaugural of the 108-day Biennale.
Aslam, accompanied by female singers Nefla Sajid and Nabeela Hakeem, made it a point that the songs predominantly sounded positive both in literature and its tunes. Among them were Hindi hit numbers such as ‘Baharo phool barsao mera mehboob aaya hai’, ‘Deewana hua baadal’ and ‘Mere Sapnom ki rani kab ayegi tu’ in Hindi, besides ‘Akale akale neelakasam’ and ‘Kadale neelakkadale’ in Malayalam.
Aslam, who has been in the music circuit for a quarter century with several records to his credit, has sung in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu among other Indian languages. KBF treasurer Bonny Thomas, who is the key organiser of ‘Art and Medicine’, said the programme has been gaining steam with every new edition over the past five years. “Its intensity has not subsided one bit,” added Bonny. “This is one weekly cultural programme Kochi has had for so long and without interruption.”
The KBF is aiming for a special show on the occasion of its 250th episode of the all-Wednesday show in the first week of the New Year.