An album of Shabads by Dr. Ashok Chopra

Recently in New Delhi, Saregama India Ltd. released an album of Shabads (Verses from the Guru Granth Sahib), sung by Dr. Ashok Chopra and composed by Surjeet Singh Parmar, at an event supported by the Sun Foundation. The CD contains 8 shabads, based on Indian classical music (ragas), derives its title from the opening track, ‘Mittar pyare noon, ‘Haal Muriddan da kehna’, a ‘khayal’ (thought) of Guru Gobind Singh Sahib, which he composed in the Macheevada jungle (near Ludhiana), after the martyrdom of his whole family.
Ashok Chopra with Priyanka Chopra

“We spent a lot of time getting the soul of this sad ‘khayal’ just right, and by the time we got the true feel of it, it was 4 am. That is when we recorded it,” says Dr. Chopra. A Punjabi Hindu, Dr. Chopra is a very devout person in the true secular sense of the term. He has already made a name as a singer of naatiya kalaam (Muslim religious verse) and bhajans (Hindu devotional singing), holding concerts across the country. “I am happy that with the blessings of everybody, I have been able to launch this album,” divulges Ashok Chopra.

Dr. Ashok Chopra, MBBS, MS, now 60, was a brilliant student, as well as a gifted singer. He was, and remains, a die-hard fan of Mohammed Rafi and Madan Mohan. For eleven continuous years, he conducted the school prayers, led the school choir and was always the winner of his school singing competitions. On completing his medical studies, he joined the army in 1974, retired in 1997, and settled in Bareilly, where he was last posted, till 2001. He now lives and practices Laser Lipolisi Surgery in Mumbai.

Surjeet Singh Parmar was so taken-up by Dr. Ashok Chopra’s rendition of Gurbani at that Gurdwara in suburban Mumbai that he decided to work on an album with the doctor. Eight tracks were carefully chosen, with classical base and minimal use of instruments, to retain the richness of the religious thoughts. Parmar is a trained musician, lyric writer and singer, who has studied formal music for four years in Chandigarh and has been in the music industry for 20 years now. His idols are A.R. Rahman and Mohammed Rafi. “Working with Dr. Chopra has been so satisfying that we are already planning our second album together,” adds Parmar.

The same event also launched the “Save the Girl Child” Campaign initiated by Priyanka Chopra, Dr. Ashok Chopra and Vikramjit S. Sahney (Head of Sun Foundation), a well known entrepreneur, educationist and social worker. He is particularly committed to bring about a positive change in the mindset of Indian society, with respect to the Girl Child. The Foundation has made a two-minute documentary on the subject, as well as a public interest message, delivered by Priyanka Chopra, in English and Hindi.

When I watched this documentary, I felt – ‘What if I was unwanted by my parents? I wouldn’t be here at all, my achievements would be nothing. I think it’s time people start having the belief that a girl can be as much successful if not more than a boy…A girl is as precious as any boy,” said Priyanka.

(Source : Suman Prasad, H.S.Communication Pvt. Ltd, Mumbai)