Sunil and Chanda Khanna performing in Sacramento, Feb. 24. (Ras H. Siddiqui)

The quest to bring quality Desi entertainment to the Sacramento area continued at the Eden Gardens Event Center in Elk Grove, Calif., brought together by a group of diehard South Asians, Feb. 24. The event billed “Valentine’s Day Musical Magic” started off with a social and dinner followed by a performance by Sunil Khanna and his life partner Chanda, writes Ras H. Siddiqui. – @siliconeer #siliconeer #Music #SunilKhanna #ChandaKhanna #LADesiMusicBand #Fremont #Sacramento #SFBayArea

The Khannas have been a part of the California singing circuit for about two decades now and it was nice to catch them in action after over 15 years right here in Sacramento. Based in the Los Angeles area, this husband and wife team it seems rarely venture up north but this time, thanks to Malkiat Singh they performed both in Sacramento and at a location in the Fremont/Newark area the following day.

Malkiat Singh, Sunil and Chanda Khanna performing in Sacramento, Feb. 24. (Ras H. Siddiqui)

When this writer walked in fashionably late Sunil Khanna was already warmed up. A beautiful rendition of the late Kishore Kumar’s “Mere Mehboob Qayamat Hogi, Aaj Rusva Teri Galiyon Mein Mohabbat Hogi” really touched on our collective nostalgia. The song has been around for over half a century but it still resonates, and Khanna did justice to it here. The same cannot be said of “Tere Mast Mast Do Nain” which is a much more recent hit by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan from the movie Dabangg, but one can guess that the younger members of the audience could relate to it more. And the follow up “Tumhare Sheher Ka Mausam” sung by many famous singers was reproduced well by him, just before prominent Sacramento South Asian Joe Lal’s mother-in-law’s birthday was announced and a fine greeting sung in her honor.

Chanda Khanna joined Sunil on stage soon after with a fine “Lag Ja Gale Ki Phir Ye Haseen Raat Ho Na Ho, Shayad Phir Is Janam Mein Mulakaat Ho Na Ho” a famous old melody originally sung by Lata Mangeshkar. It should be noted here that Lata ji is not one whose voice can be easily duplicated and Chanda’s delivery certainly possesses that rare “sureely” quality which can successfully pull off a worthy duplication. And the next number another oldie by Lata ji “Aap Ki Nazron Ne Samjha Pyar Ke Qabil Mujhe” from the film Anpadh (1962) was proof of that. Fine job Chanda ji!

The entertainers pose with attendees in Sacramento, Feb. 24. (Ras H. Siddiqui)

But we returned to Sunil and “Ahista Ahista,” a very famous ghazal originally sung by the late Jagjit Singh, plus the follow up “Kaun Kehta Hai Mohabbat Ki Zabaan Hoti Hai” and “Waqt To Lagta Hai.”  A song from the golden era and another high point of the evening which thrilled us all was “Chalte Chalte” from the film Pakeezah, sung to almost perfection by Chanda ji, along with “Inhi Logon Ne Le Liya Dupatta Mera Dupatta Mera” from the same classic. A duet, “Chura Liya Hai Tumne Jo Dil Ko” from the treasure chest of R.D. Burman was also well received.

But this event was in Sacramento and many in the audience were of Punjabi extraction so it came as no surprise that the most energetic response was witnessed during “Kurti Mal Mal Di” possibly the late Jagjit Singh’s most famous song in that language. But the evening ended in the Hindi-Urdu realm with the famous paper boat of childhood, which left some here nostalgically misty eyed, “Ye Daulat Bhi Lelo Ye Shohrat Bhi Lelo, Bhale Cheenlo Mujhse Meri Jawani , Magar Mujhko Lauta Do Bachpan Ka Sawan, Woh Kagaz ki Kashti Woh Baarish Ka Paani.” Now that is what we call a fine close for a Desi musical evening!