Indian film stars rock the Smith Center at GWU

Rishi Kapoor, Juhi Chawla, Raveena Tandon, Akshay Kumar, Saif Ali Khan perform to a packed crowd in the capital city

By Geeta Goindi

Washington, DC, September 2, 1994 – Labor Day weekend abounded with excitement as scores of people awaited the arrival of their favorite film stars. All attention was focused on Rishi Kapoor, Juhi Chawla, Raveena Tandon, Akshay Kumar, Saif Ali Khan, Ashwini Bhave, Ila Arun and the expert music director Rajesh Roshan. And these artistes proved that they are truly mega stars in a show to be remembered at the Smith Center of the George Washington University.

The organizers, Mr. Vijay Taneja of Financial Mortgage, and Mr. Janak Tahiliani, BJ Singh, Dixit Patel and Calvin Singh of Shaan Entertainment ensured that the evening of September 2 would be one of a kind. There was almost a stampede for last-minute tickets. The corollary was a record 4,000-strong crowd that graced a spectacular concert.

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Actress Juhi Chawla with Washington show promoter Vijay Taneja (right) and his wife Alka Taneja (center)

The euphoria gained momentum a day before the show. Both passengers as well as families who had come to receive their kin appeared charmed by the presence of so many celebrities at Washington Dulles Airport. In spite of a hectic itinerary and a long flight from London, the artistes were in full form and eager to mingle.

They reached out to their loyal fans and supporters. Patrons of India Spices and Appliances and Delhi Dhaba in Arlington, Virginia, were charmed by the appearance of Raveena and Akshay. The duo happily posed for pictures and signed autographs – a pleasant prelude to their concert.

Looking ravishing, sans makeup, Raveena told us that their earlier shows in Birmingham and London were completely sold out. In fact, the response was so tremendous that a third concert had to be scheduled at the Wembley Stadium. Amazingly, it was jam-packed and that, too, on a Monday night.

For Washington, it was a record crowd which came to the newly renovated Smith Center. Security was extremely tight, yet ushers were politeness personified when it came to seating and assisting the patrons. “Washington has the best audience”, observed Navneet Nishan, the mistress of ceremonies. It is not surprising then, that the exceedingly talented artistes struck an immediate rapport with the well behaved spectators which prevailed throughout the show. And what a show it was! Entertainment at its very best!

Rishi Kapoor rendered famous songs from his films such as “Main shayar toh nahin”, “Ek main aur ek tu”, “Saagar kinare” and “Sochenge tumhe pyar kare ke nahin”. The audience was charmed by his enactment of “Sayad Ali pyar ka dushman” from the super successful movie ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’. Kapoor attempted to bridge the distance between the different age groups by reviving these perennially popular songs of the seventies and eighties as well as selecting numbers from the nineties. “I am an artiste of both the old and young generation”, he remarked.

Juhi Chawla, currently vying for the top slot, proved her mettle as a stage artiste. In “Bombay se gayee Poona” from her award-winning film ‘Hum Hain Rahee Pyar Ke’, she looked like a chirpy teenager. Within minutes, she transformed into a sultry siren and performed the scintillating “Obsession” dance from ‘Darr’. Later, she teamed with Akshay and the dynamic duo danced to “Ghunghat ki aad se”, “Goriya re” and “Dekho zara dekho barsaat ki jhari”.

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Actress Juhi Chawla posing with her young fan backstage at the GWU Smith Center in Washington, DC

Akshay enraptured the spectators who marveled at his actions. A star is born! An excellent dancer, with a supple body, he moved like lightening. A master of the martial arts, his skill in karate enhanced his performance. In one sequence, the audience sat spell-bound, some even stood up, as he came to the center of the stage upside down, walking with his hands. Whether it was somersaults or rigorous dance steps, it was Akshay all the way. The crowd could not get enough of this mind-boggling performer.

Saif Ali Khan held his own. His masterful handling of the guitar drew cheers from the audience. Youngsters waved and clapped as he danced to “Aashiq Aawara”. Saif did full justice to one of the most sought after numbers of the evening “Ole Ole”. He performed with an elan and style which was all his own.

Raveena received a thunderous applause for her “Tu cheez badi hai mast mast” dance from the film ‘Mohra’. Together with Akshay, the flamboyant aura of the film’s sequence was recreated on stage.

Ashwini Bhave performed her most popular number “Aaja ve maahi” from ‘Henna’ as well as a new song from ‘Cheetah’.

Ila Arun enjoyed her own share of encores. Unconventional, unique, novel and exquisite, she sang and danced to “Morni baga ma bole” from the film ‘Lamhe’. In her inimitable style which was sheer ecstasy to behold, she brought to life the rich folk culture of Rajasthan. Resplendent in a ghagra choli, her arms adorned by bangles, she swirled and swiveled much to the delight of all present.

Predicated upon vociferous public demand, Arun sang and danced to the controversial “choli ke peeche” number. Later she performed “Bichuda” from her latest album ‘Sawa Lakh Ki’. Effectively utilizing her eyes, arms and even her hair, she showed something to the audience that they had probably never seen before. An extraordinary lady! An extraordinary performance!

Rajesh Roshan was the music maestro and he skillfully directed a large orchestra. An assortment of popular songs such as “Ek ladki ko dekha”, “Baazigar O’ Baazigar”, “Saara zamana haseeno ka deewana”, “Jaadu teri nazar”, “Kali teri choti hai” and “Tu mere saamne” were interspersed in the variegated show.

The superbly choreographed show was complemented by an effective sound system and special light effects provided by Shaan Productions. Neon lights shone on the artistes from all directions, enhancing the glamour and glitter of the concert. Intella beams, bubble machines and mirror balls were liberally utilized. It is no wonder then that Shaan Productions has provided sound and lighting to major area shows, over the last two years.

The dazzling special effects, the highly entertaining items coupled with top-notch performers, made the ‘Mast Mast Show’ one of the most enjoyable to date. Thus far, the concert has been sold out in London, Birmingham and Washington, DC. At the time of going to press, we learned that the Nassau Coliseum in New York was packed to capacity with some 12,000 fans. Los Angeles and Vancouver shows were also house full. Upcoming concerts will now be held in Miami, Chicago, Toronto, San Francisco and Houston. Judging by the response so far, these shows are expected to attract capacity crowds which speaks volumes for the quality of this mega stars spectacle!

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