Of the many vocalists who have staked out careers as successful Bollywood playback singers the guys and gals who sing the songs the actors mouth along to in the flicks Kailash Kher stands as one of the most unique. His singing style is soulful and room-filling, but it also dwells in the upper registers, so it comes across as far more insistent and spiritual than many of his male counterparts in the business. Deeply influenced by the mystical music of the Bauls and the Qawaali singing of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Kher's voice is as effective in historical period pieces like Mangal Pandey as it is in comedies like Chandni Chowk to China. Further setting himself apart from the playback singer crowd, Kher fields a full-time band, Kalaisa, that has scored several hits in India. Although Kher has taken part in some of the big-ticket Bollywood superstar tours of the U.S., this show at the Crocodile is decidedly more grass-roots in nature, with Kalaisa bringing an accessible blend of pop and traditional South Asian sounds. While Kher may belt out a few of his bigger Bollywood hits if you shout a request for anything, make it "Show Me Your Jalwa," just for kicks this is going to be a show that's light on spectacle and strong on substance.
Sun., Sept. 27, 8 p.m., 2009