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Magix 'n' Curses
..the argument continues

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Deccan Chronicle - 2


We just stood there. Shivering with cold and miserably drenched. "I can't come back again to Bangalore. This is the last of my free weekends", I repeated over and over in my mind. There were a coupla policemen standing under an umbrella, and we couldn't resist singing "Pyar hua, ikraar hua hai"! By 7:30, I lost all hope. But I was happy to see I wasn't the only nutcase standing in the rain waiting for Rahman. Everybody stood there, not moving an inch, braving the rains, at least to get a glimpse of him even if it was just to see him come out and apologise that the show was being cancelled.

Rahman did make an appearance at around 8. This is what Gopal Srinivasan, the moderator of the Rahman Fan Group had to say.

"Around 8 PM, the boss made an appearance on stage dressed in a sky blue turtle neck T-shirt and the whole arena erupted into a loud cheer. He said "This is the holy month of Ramadan and the showers are a blessing from God. Give us a few minutes to set up the stage and the show will go on". The crowd again went up in a cheer. One of us overheard H Sridhar remarking, "Why is he saying this! Its not safe to do a concert now". But ARR was resolute."

That's what sets Rahman apart from the others. He was genuinely touched by what he saw and was determined to give back something to the audience. Thalaiva, thanks! The one hour wait we had to endure for the show to start didn't seem like too much of a trouble, now that the show was on after all! Our patience began to wear thin when so many artists came out and said "We love you Bangalore, you're the best audience I've seen in my life". It sounded like a formality, but now, on hindsight, I guess they really meant it. A few artists like Sivamani, Blaaze and Kailash Kher did their bit to make sure the restless crowd didn't return home.

As promised, at around 9, our man came out and rendered Fanaah.
The crowd erupted! Rahman sounded a bit offkey, and I wasn't too happy with what I was hearing. What happened to that voice that gave me goosebumps everytime? But was I pleasantly surprised by Rahman's vigour! I've never seen the shy man so alive before. Confidently striding out from his comfort zone surrounded by his keyboards, he bobbed up and down punching the air, trying his best to give us the show of our lives. At that moment, I was enveloped by a feeling of warmth and reverence for Rahman so great, that his throaty "Ma pa ma pa" alaap didn't bother me one bit.

Hariharan came on next with Sadhana Sargam to sing "Telephone manipol" from Indian. Sadhana muffed up at a few places. "Why were they performing so badly? Were they all feeling the tension to get the show started?". The song went off in a blur. I was unable to concentrate with these questions scrolling through my mind. Shankar Mahadevan and Blaaze walked out along with George Peters, and they whipped the crowd into a frenzy with "O Hum Dum" from Saathiya. Blaaze improvised on the rap in the middle saying all the right words about Bangalore to make us feel the wait was worth it!

The little man, Kailash Kher came on stage to render "Mangal Mangal". Couldn't see the outfit he was wearing, but it sure did look all bright and funny from that distance! The artists still seemed to be trying too hard to impress. The comfort level wasn't up there yet. But the crowd still loved what they were given. I'd gone to Rahman's "Unity of Light" show in Chennai, and I had seen for myself the sheer magic the artists rustle up. Everyone seemed to be a bit rusty, here.

The next song put an end to all my apprehension. Alka Yagnik came on to sing "Mehndi hai" from Zubeidaa. The crowd was confused, a few muttered "Hey, I know this song, yet I don't!". I was the official information supplier for the group out there, telling them the names of the movies, the actors and on a few occassions getting a bit too carried away to actually give them the year of release and some trivia associated with the movie. Alka rocked. It was a slow song, and the crowd didn't react much to it, but she gave me the confidence that the show was on for good. Her sweet voice resonated with confidence, and I geared myself for one helluva show!

Rahman announced that the next song was from Water (the album releases on Nov 8th, btw) and we were probably the first to hear it. Sorry thalaiva, I already have a few thiruttu samples! ;) "Water?", the guy next to me asked, confused. John Abraham, Lisa Ray, Seema Biswas, the last installation of Deepa Mehta's elemental trilogy, renamed as Rivermoon and shot in Sri Lanka almost secretly to avoid all the controversies that happened in Varanasi when she started shooting there.. I was half expecting him to ask me to stop, strangely he didn't seem to mind! :)

Sukhwinder and Sadhana sang "Aayo Re" from the film. Maybe they improvised, maybe they didn't, but it sure sounded a bit different. It was amazing all the same! The people next to me were quite confused to see me sing along. He he, that was fun. The next two songs were "Hum hai iss pal yahaan" from Kisna by Madhushree and "Roja Jaaneman" by Hariharan and Sadhana Sargam. Hmmm, I wasn't able to listen to them properly as there was a small problem in the crowd. I guess this deserves a seperate post. I'll put it up when I'm done with the Deccan Chronicle series.

Naresh Iyer and Aslam began crooning "Doston se jhoothi moothi dusron ka naam leke" and the crowd roared in response! He he, anyone who's listening to Rahman's songs for the first time would have thought a rock song was to follow. Chupke Se from Saathiya still hasn't lost its charm. Sadhana's baby all the way. Rahman announced that the lyrics of the next song were special as it was written by PB Sreenivos for the show (correct me if I'm wrong, I kinda went berserk when he took the mike, and I was too busy shouting "thalaiva!" to notice what he said!) It was Kannalane from Bombay, sung in Kannada. Hmm, I must mention the choir. They were brilliant. They swayed, clapped and crooned in unison and made for a very cute sight. And sounded fab!

Thalaivar came back on, extra cheerful now that everyone was in a groove, even as the orchestration for Chale Chalo (Lagaan) started, he said "This one is for your spirit", and punched the air again! He he, so much for reticence, Rahman looked every bit the rockstar he's made out to be in India! Needless to say, he was brilliant! He was followed by Mr.I-always-improvise-on-stage-when-Rahman's-around. Hmmm, typing "Hariharan" is easier. :) He dissected Vennilave Vennilave (Minsaara Kanavu), breaking into alaaps quite often. But to be fair to him, I enjoyed it! Sadhana sang along, and stuck to the original tune. :D

The choir was in its elements when they sang Chinnamma Chilakkama. Sukhwinder lapped up all the screams and whistles, and was clearly enjoying himself as he grooved to to the beat. Madhushree then came on to sing "Kabhi Neem Neem" (Yuva). I was pretty disappointed with the folks standing next to me as they heard her hum the starting part of the song and began wondering aloud if it was from Swades or Saathiya! She sang the closing lines in tamil, and sounded pretty funny! Sukhwinder came back to sing "Pangdi Sambhaal" from The Legend of Bhagath Singh.

Alka Yagnik strode in to sing the western version of "Taal se taal mila". It sounded better than it did in the movie! Shankar Mahadevan returned, pulled Rahman out and had us in splits! "We are gonna sing a song, a very very slow song. It was a total flop in the movie, but we're gonna sing it anyway. It's called Humma Humma from the movie Bombay" and gestured to Rahman to take over. Rahman crooned "Humma humma" like a Muslim prayer song, and Shankar M sang "andha arabic kadaloram" in a tune straight out of Thyagaraja Bhagavadar's handbook! Blaaze, from the audience, said Bangalore's the city of hiphop and got the crowd jiving with his rap and screaming "Humma!" at his cue. They eventually sang the original number and left the crowd asking for more.

Blaaze took over with his Baba rap, putting on a great show. After him was the turn of the man who was easily the second most popular dude out there. Sivamani. His 11 minute solo blew us all off our feet. What a performance! adhu kai-ya electric bell-a? yebbaaaa!!

Then came the song I was waiting for. The poverty anthem that Rahman composed, "Pray for me brother". He began the song mentioning it was very close to his heart, and it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out he put his soul into the song. Rahman and Blaaze sung from their heart, and Rahman hasn't sounded this good since Vellai Pookal (Kannathil Muthamittaal). The tune, the lyrics, the mood, the voice.. I was moved. (I need to get a copy of this one!)

Rahman wasn't satisfied with just touching our hearts. Perhaps he wanted to drill deep down and make sure he took us to heaven. I don't mean he wanted to kill us with his songs!! :) He managed to strike that chord in the heart that fills you with sheer bliss, that makes you forget all your pain and stand entranced, that has the power to move you to tears. The Bombay Theme did all that, and more. One of the violinists was so moved and carried away that he stood up midway and performed with closed eyes. That best described the mood. I stood there, unable to speak a word. Chanceless!

Rahman took up the mike again. I expected him to sound choked, sniff, anything to portray the mood! He just gave us a playful grin and asked, "Do you wanna listen to something from Bombay Dreams?" Alma, the Bosnian singer, sang "Love's Never Easy" and the song morphed into "Ishq Bina" sung by Madhushree. Badri Prasad, the local, and Sayanora, who lived upto her name and waved a couple of times :), rendered Muqala Muqabla, in Himil. That's part Hindi part Tamil!

Shankar Mahadevan and Rahman then got back together, and enthralled us with one of the best unplugged pieces I've heard! He sang Ghanan Ghanan (Lagaan) making sure he edited a particular line to say "paani mat barsaao"! When he was done, he said it wasn't over yet.. "If it had rained in the movie, like how it did today, how would Rahman have composed it?" The jugalbandhi of Shankar's amazing voice range and Rahman's lightning fingers on the keyboard was something to cherish forever. (I need a copy of this too!!)

Rahman's solo performance of Musthafa Musthafa (Kadhal Desam), followed by Sa Re Ga Me (Boys) along with Blaaze and Tanvi was just what the doctor ordered to get the fans all hysterical again. Rehana took centrestage along with Sukhwinder, for their rendition of Chayya Chayya. Sukhwinder was let loose, to play with audience, to get them moving, to tease them, to get them screaming, to get them singing along, to make sure they had fun. And this particular song has a track record that's never disappointed fans all over the world! :)

The choir and orchestra performed the beginning strains of Aazadi (Bose) and thalaivar took over, singing straight from the heart. It started to drizzle again. The song immediately transformed into Maa Tujhe Salaam. And when Rahman hit the high note in Vande Mataram, the heavens opened up, pouring heavier than it did when the show started. It was a magical moment. Even Rahman was visibly moved. "Isn't it a miracle?", he whispered into the mike.

PS.
What happened after the concert to be continued in part 3! :)
Song List - courtesy Gopal Srinivasan.

He'd also mentioned a few songs that were not performed because of the delay.
Unplugged
1. O Re Chori - Alka
2. Yeh Jo Zindagi - Sukhvinder
3. Sabak Aisa - Madhushree
4. Tu Hi Re - Hari / Chitra
5. Anjali - Chitra

6. Warriors in Peace - Alma
7. Thee Thee - Sadhna / Raja
8. Jiya Jale - Chitra
9. Yeh Haseen Vadiyaan - Hari / Chitra
10. Yunh Hi Chala Chal - Hari / Kailash Kher / Aslam
11. Vari Girai - Hari / Chitra