Sunday, 8 December 2019


A military band is not proud because it performs well, it performs well because it's proud – George Parks

Music and Rhythm find their way into the secret places of the SoulPlato

Military regiments the world over are proud of their martial bands and vice-versa. Every soldier on Parade marches erect with dignified pride in perfect synchronous harmonics to the sonorous beats of his Military band.

        The provenance of Indian Navy Band is the Royal Indian Navy when it was constituted with a few musicians. Today the Indian Navy boasts of a contingent of trained musicians in various bands across our country. The Indian Naval Band has gratified and delighted audiences of not only our country but around the world by their spectacular performances. The Bands accompanying the warships cruising abroad for goodwill visits, act truly as emphatic Ambassadors of our great country. Indian Naval Band has imposed itself through many international performances, notable amongst these have been the Queen’s coronation in the Statue of Liberty, the Australian Bi-centennial celebrations, the President’s Fleet Review in USA and International Fleet Review in Australia. In the recent past, the Indian Naval Band has participated in the prestigious Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo at Scotland and the Russian Federation Navy Day in Sep 2018.  As a goodwill gesture and in reciprocation, the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet Band was here with us on our Navy Day, performing with us shoulder to shoulder. Two days later, the two Naval bands had a tryst in the Mulla Auditorium on the 6th of Dec 2019.


      INS KUNJALI was the organising host of the joint concert on behalf of the Western Naval Command and invited the Veterans for the 2 hr show. The Housefull Mulla Auditorium had an equal number of serving officers and veterans with their spouses and a large number of Sailors. Among the Senior Veterans who graced the occasion, it was an honour to meet Adm VS Shekhawat (our former CNS) with his good Lady Mrs Binu Shekhawat. VAdm and Mrs IC Rao, RAdm Arun Auditto & Mrs Ranjana Auditto and RAdm GC  Thadani with two charming Sisters were the other Senior Veterans to grace the ethereal musical evening. We had ample opportunity to meet and greet each other, awaiting  the arrival of the Chief Guest, VAdm RB Pandit, Chief of Staff, Western Naval Command. The MC, LtCdr Anurag Shukla, in his impeccable diction welcomed the Chief Guest and audience to this grand extravaganza of musical fusion between two old friends.

       The show kick-started with an extraordinary performance by the Russian Military Band of the Black Sea Fleet; nonstop uninterrupted for 40 mins, comprising deep sonorous crooning, group dances and breath-taking awesome flips. (Video below). The Russian segment renditions included ‘Legendary Sevastopol’ arranged by Zotov V, who presented two more songs ‘Salty Water’ and ‘Long Way’. Skripnichenko arranged ‘Military Uniform is that Good’, an awesome group dance accompaniment. Ivanov V presented folk music based ‘Russian Dance’. Mitkin V presented another folk music based dance show ‘Yablochko’ that was breath-taking, before the 10 mins intermission for drinks and snack at the lawns. It was indeed an honour to meet and greet each other. The exclusive take away of such gatherings is the chance opportunity that the young (serving) people extract to interact with the uninhibited younger lot (Veterans).

    The next segment started with Indian Band performance. The first three presentations were ‘Autumn Leaves’, ‘O Sole Mio’ and ‘ Hootenanny’, But the movie theme of ‘The Good, The Bad, The Ugly’ by composer E Moricone was exceptionally arranged by our Director of music, Cdr VC D’Cruz, that  amused us back to the era of the ‘70s.

     The last segment was out of the world fusion of both the Bands that included ‘Moscow Nights’ and ‘Katyusha’ by Mitkin V, but what stole everyone's heart by fiddling their heartstrings were a parody tribute to Raj Kapoor by LtCdr M Sebastian and the two beautiful Russian crooners singing ‘Jimmy Jimmy’ from the Hindi film  Disco Dancer, arranged admirably by Zotov V.

       The climax crescendo was a tribute to our very own Legendary composer and lyricist IQBAL, for having presented us with our Official marchpast score ‘Saare Jahan Se Achha’. It was arranged by our conductor A Lobo. What the musicians of both countries churned out was abundant to raise our goosebumps, that compelled us to rise with a huge round of applause directed towards each and every member of the joint Orchestra of two Nations.

      LtCdr Anurag Shukla requested VAdm & Mrs RB Pandit (Chief of Staff WNC) and Mr Aleksei V Surovtsev, (Consul General of Russia in Mumbai) on stage to felicitate the Naval Bands of Russia and India. After the mutual exchange of greetings and felicitation, the Russian Consul General thanked the Indian Band and the Indian Navy in raw confident Hindi. It was heartening to see the Russian Consul General come and meet Adm VS Shekhawat and converse in accented Hindi, while the Admiral,  retorted in proficient Russian, even as they strode smilingly to the Exit to bid farewell with 'DasVidaniya' (до свида́ния).

     It’s indeed an unwritten truth that music akin to love knows no language barriers, is seamless, cannot be bound; albeit it does unite nations, as was evident in Mulla Auditorium on the evening of 06 Dec 2019.

     Kudos anew to the Officers and Men of INS Kunjali for the clockwork organisation of this prodigious Musical Extravaganza under the stewardship of Cmde Rishi Raj.  

Shano Varuna… Jai Hind!

P.S.- Notice the exceptional stunt photography by          @Meena Dutt  in photos below.


About the Author

Commander Rajinder Dutta (Retd) has been a Naval Pilot and a Qualified Flying Instructor with about 3000 hrs of flying on various fixed-wing Aircraft of Indian Navy, viz HT-2, HPT-32, Kirans, Islander, Super Connie, Fokker F-27 and IL-38.
 He is the Hon Secy of NFMC, a Master of Ceremonies and an avid blogger.