Harshi Gill

After a hiatus imposed by Covid and the unfortunate and untimely demise of the chief founder of LA Sargam, Avtar Chadda, Dr. Parvin Syal and Nirmal Sandhu, associated with this organization since its inception, picked up the reins to honor the memory of Avtar.

An ensemble of Indian and Pakistani songs filled the packed auditorium of the Royal Delhi Palace in West Hills on May 14, 2022 to entertainment by singers well known to the group as well as by new talent on the scene. In the spirit of collaboration by artistes from India and Pakistan, the evening was kick-started by a bhajan by Rajeshwari Kulkarni, a multi-faceted artiste who has appeared in the award-winning Zee TV shows like Sa Re Ga Ma Pa and Antakshari; this was followed by a shabad by Gurdeep Grewall, a well-known performer in the Punjabi wedding genre and a Naat Shareef by Aslam Tabbani, a native of Myanmar who has mastered the fine nuances of Bollywood songs.

Nirmal S. Sandhu (Organizer/Director); Dr. Parvin D. Syal (Producer/Compere) and Dr. Bharat Patel (Grand Sponsor)
Nirmal S. Sandhu (Organizer/Director); Dr. Parvin D. Syal (Producer/Compere) and Dr. Bharat Patel (Grand Sponsor)

The compere, Dr. Parvin Syal, in his inimitable style of wit and humor, but laced with the solemnity demanded by the occasion, paid tribute to Chadda. He introduced the LA Sargam team – Director and Organizer, Nirmal S. Sandhu, who is not only passionate about community activities, but also has a highly acclaimed album of Punjabi songs to his credit; Anila Bhasin, with a strong background in the organization of mega programs of several associations and Mobin Khan who has been attached to the group since its inception.

He then went on to introduce he grand sponsor, Dr. Bharat Patel and his philanthropic organization, ALAPIO, which has made its mark for its charitable work in providing free medical and surgical services to those unable to afford healthcare. The duo joined hands as they recalled the contributions by Chadda not only to the musical scene, but also the talent he brought to many projects  as a graphic artist.

A note of levity was struck with Dr. Patel’s humorous anecdotes. But before the music swung into a multitude of artistes and a variety of songs, Avtar’s signature song, which had become his hallmark for over a decade, Mohammed Rafi’s Suhani Raat Dhal Chuki, filled the air in the voice of Harinder S. Sidhu. Featured as one of the main singers of the evening, he carried on the tradition established by Chadda with his rendition of songs by Rafi. The air resonated with the spirit of Avtar, who was strikingly present in his absence. There were many a tearful eye as memories of his singing reminded people of his loss.

Other featured artistes included Roshni Chandran, a freelance vocalist from Kerala who has had formal training in classical music – both Carnatic and Hindustani styles. New to the family of La Sargam, Dr. Rizwana Zareen brought a breath of fresh air with her repertoire of both Bollywood and Pakistani songs, inspired by Lata ji and Madam Noor Jahan.

Sunny Singh, one of the founding members of LA Sargam, has been no stranger to the stage. Enamored by the unique talent of Kishore Kumar, he has lent his voice to songs by his mentor and entertained the crowds with both his solo numbers and duets with Roshni Chandran.

Guest artiste, Saeez Mirza, founder of the Sur Sangam Musical Group, recently relocated to Bakersfield, where he is well on the way to attaining celebrity status with his soulful voice. His powerful voice brought a rich note to the tapestry of the musical evening.

Appropriately for the audience, the emphasis was on golden oldies, interspersed with some Punjabi numbers, which had some of the audience singing along, while others took to the floor in accompaniment to the music.

After the formal part of the evening was over, regular attendees of such musical programs, Haspinder Manku and Jatinder Shante paid spontaneous tribute to Avtar Chadda and committed to support similar programs in the future.

The program was streamed live. Technical support was provided by Sound Engineer, Zeeshan Nadir, photography by Sam Dhaliwal, videography by Happy Aujla and design by Ajitpal K. Aujla.