Building Bridges of Understanding
By Talat Sattar

Life is a never ending experience of pain, bliss, grief, and learning. It is beyond anyone’s imagination what the world holds for tomorrow, which makes life very interesting. One of the interesting aspects of life is meeting new people who leave an everlasting impression on your life; most of the time the impression is unpleasant but a few times it is unforgettable.
Annie Akhtar, one of my best friends from San Francisco, invited me to a musical show in Mehran Restaurant arranged by Ms. Mariam. I met the main performer of the evening and I thought I had known this person my whole life. She was humble, caring, and down to earth. I started thinking how long have I known this person, and where did we meet before? It was mind boggling as I did not recall meeting this person before in my life, but there was still some connection and some closeness.
The second time I met Alka was at the Peprika Restaurant in Antioch where Zeeshawn Ansari had arranged a musical show on the occasion of the opening of his new Pakistani/Indian cuisine. She treated us like her family and congratulated my family on our newborn son, Shamyl.
Of course I am talking about Alka Bhatnagar, the world famous Bollywood singer, actress, dancer, and on top of that a good mother and wife. Alka Bhatnagar was born in a family with a long tradition in music in Meerut. Gifted with a melodious and baritone voice, she learned music from her father, a great exponent of classical and light music in his days.
Alka’s favorite singer is Madam Noor Jehan and there is hardly any musical concert where she does not sing Madam’s songs. Most of the time she begins her show with “Allah he Allah Kia Karo, Dukh na kisee ko dia karo”, and ends up with, “Dama dam mast qalandar”.
Alka has won a number of awards. Rightly, she is recognized as a singer of eminence. She has performed not only int India but in many other places and has simply enhanced the distinguished gathering with her memorable songs and ghazals.
Alka was privileged to have learnt music from the famous Ustad Altaf Hussain, Ustad Mohd.Wazir and Ganesh Prasad Misra. She is one of those few artistes who have succeeded in combining the finest nuances of classical music with an element of modernity with her imaginative improvisations. Her control over her voice, mastery over modulation, superb intonation and "stress" are some of the salient features of her singing. She has evolved her own style which is a curious mix of the finest of baritone and the lowest of contralto.
Alka and her brother Sandeep, a famous ghazal singer, have given numerous performances in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Middle East. She appeared on Singapore TV and radio several times and viewer response to these shows was reported to be very high.
Alka Bhatnagar wishes to build a bridge of good relations between India and Pakistan. “I want to see them live in peace and harmony as they have done for centuries,” says Alka. She is very satisfied with the current peace movement between India and Pakistan and also wants to play some role to further it. Alka would like to have an opportunity to perform in front of President Musharaf and thank him for creating this peace environment between India and Pakistan.


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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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