Grammys 2022: The names less-mentioned

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Raj Kapoor, executive producer of this year’s Grammys comments on Facebook. Photo: Facebook @Raj-Kapoor-Productions

Its almost always the case that behind every great event is an Indian working away diligently but not necessarily in the limelight. So it goes for the Grammy Awards of 2022.

Perhaps not many will know that the real mover and shaker behind the Grammys this year, and many times in the past, was Raj Kapoor. Not the Bollywood legend that the name immediately evokes. But the Raj Kapoor who organizes these musical extravaganzas.

And while we recognize the angst behind slamming the Grammys for forgetting to mention India’s Nightingale Lata Mangeshkar in their in-memoriam video, they should be lauded for recognizing Indian-American Bhaskar Menon, a music industry executive hailing from Palakkad, Kerala. And definitely know that the magician behind the magnificent show was Indian-American Raj Kapoor

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As the credits rolled at the conclusion of the great musical show, the audience would find out if it continued watching who did that magic, that the Executive Producer of the show as a man named Raj Kapoor.

Raj Kapoor, executive producer of The Grammy Awards 2022. photo: rajkapoorproductions.com

The creativity and imaginative work of Kapoor as director and producer of shows like Grammys, has been evident on stages around the world, says imdb.com. He may not have millions of followers on Twitter but he brings those millions to the stars whose shows he produces.

A Rolling Stone interview of Kapoor done just before the Grammys on April 3, 2022, shows the high-stakes producer striving for perfectionism that he and the whole team behind the scenes and the performers put into making the show one of the greatest.

“I’m always so proud because this is one of the best shows on television. It’s also because we have one of the best production teams … over a thousand people working on the show are literally the best in the business,” Kapoor told Rolling Stone in the video available on the Web. “As soon as the show is done, we are putting the people on hold for the next year,” he added. Kapoor describes the most meticulous planning and extraordinary efficiency of crews who have to keep changing sets and doing sounds checks behind the stage, a place he thinks is more exciting.

Raj Kapoor Productions is the name his company goes by. It is described on the website as a “full service production company offering outstanding creative direction and design for the television and live entertainment industry.”

“He is a creative talent whose imaginative work has been seen on stages and screens around the world,” the website says.

Some of his biggest television credits include the 2 most recent Academy Awards, the 7 most recent Grammys, ACMs, AMA’s, American Idol, The Beatles Grammy Special, Billboards, CMAs, Dancing with The Stars, Disneyland 60, Emmys, Greatest Hits, iHeart Radio Music Awards, RDMA’s, Sinatra 100 Grammy Special, The Voice, Xfactor and XQ Super School Live, the website details.

It also notes that Kapoor has directed and produced Vegas residencies for the Backstreet Boys, Mariah Carey, John Fogerty and Shania Twain. He has mounted numerous large-scale tours for Jason Aldean, American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, Jewel, Jonas Brothers, Juanes, Demi Lovato, Tim McGraw & Faith Hill, OneRepublic, Rascal Flatts, So You Think You Can Dance, Shania Twain and Carrie Underwood. Corporate clients include Disney, Gallo, GM, Skechers, Tesla, UAE and the United Nations.

Bhaskar Menon

We cannot therefore, not make it one’s duty to know more about those Indian names that did get a mention.

Bhaskar Menon. Photo: EMIarchivetrust.org

Bhaskar Menon (May 29, 1934-March 4, 2021), head of EMI Internatuonal, died last year at the age of 86. Originally from Thiruvananthapuram, he was the son of KRK and Saraswathi Menon, educated at Christ Church, Oxford, and in India, he worked with the Gramophone Company of India Ltd. (HMV) in Kolkata, where he was the Chairman and Managing Director, according to a iography carried by coloradomusic.org shortly after his death.

At EMI, Menon oversaw the music company’s worldwide operations and subsidiaries.

Educated at the prestigious Doon School in India, Menon got his Bachelors degree from delhi University before getting his Masters at Oxford. He joined EMI in London and served stints in India and the Far East. At one point, when he was back in London, he had direct operating responsibility for EMI’s companies in 25 countries. He came to Los Angeles and was elected President and Chief Executive Officer of Capitol Industries Inc., a public corporation in which EMI held majority interest. After serving in many important leadership positions, including at EMI, Menon is credited with turning around the financially strapped Capitol EMI.

Wikipedia quotes the publication New Musical Express which said in a 1978 article, “Within a year he had turned Capitol’s $15 million loss into a profit. His motto for his employees was simple: ‘Uncompromising excellence in what you do goes without saying. We expect more than that,’.”

Menon brought that British music companies branches in 46 countries under one fold- EMI Music Worldwide. The FYI music site throws some light on Menon’s personality – “menon was a great team builder, he had a passion for music and he loved entertaining and hanging out with musicians.”

Lata Mangeshkar

The Twitter feed lit up after the ‘In Memoriam’ segment was played at  the 64th Annual Grammy Awards paying tribute to several late musical powerhouses and ending with Stephen Sondheim, but failing to mention legendary Indian playback singer Lata, who probably has more fans and a much longer lifetime performance when she died recently.

Bollywood playback singer Lata Mangeshkar looks at a bouquet she received on her 75th birthday during a celebration in Bombay September 28, 2003. REUTERS/Sherwin Crasto/File Photo/

The fact is, Mangeshkar was not just an icon in India, her songs, even if sung by Bollywood actresses, are famous in so many other countries in regions like the Middle East, Russia,
Eatern Europe, and the East Asian countries. And Grammys receive a lot of kudos for not leaving out people who are popular only in America.

So it is natural that Indian fans were disappointed to find Lata Mangeshkar’s name missing from the honorable mentions. For that matter, Mangeshkar was also not included in the Oscars 2022, as ANI points out, quoting several who made their feelings known on Twitter.

(Addon from ANI)

“Wow @RecordingAcad. What a way to Go. Forgetting #LataMangeshkar the #LegendaryNightingaleOfIndia. Neither the #Oscars nor the #Grammys had an image of #LataMangeshkar in their ‘In Memoriam’ section! Shame!!” – said one Twitter writer.

“Shame on Oscar & Grammy Award’s org. !! They haven’t even pay tribute to late Bharat Ratna Lata Mangeshkar ji..! #shame #Grammy #Awards #LataMangeshkar #Oscar,” another tweeted.

A Twitter user commented on the Recording Academy’s theme of diversity and inclusion.
“Both the Oscars and Grammy awards claim to promote diversity but surprisingly none of them bothered to showcase Lata Mangeshkar in their section to remember artists who are no longer with us. #GRAMMYs #Oscars #LataMangeshkar,” she wrote.

Another Twitter user emphasised Mangeshkar’s contribution to the music industry, writing, “Wow Grammys didn’t even to bother mentioning #LataMangeshkar. Do you even know her level and contribution to song and music? #GRAMMYs.”

While Mangeshkar was not mentioned in the ‘In Memoriam’ segment, her name is mentioned in a comprehensive list featured on the Grammys website, ANI reported. It also noted that last month, she was featured in the British Academy Film and Television Awards’ (BAFTA) ‘In Memoriam’ segment.

 

 

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