A. R. Rahman Live – Part II of III

The show starts at 8:45. Alla Rakha Rahman, live in concert. Starts off with his “Fanaa” from “Yuva”. The crowd is hysterical. We’re all singing, dancing, swaying, letting out our excitement.

Part of the proceeds are to go to “Namma Mane” (“Our home” in Kannada) a home and school for the disabled.

The much-hyped 3D show isn’t happening due to the rains. The screen projectors aren’t working, so we can’t really see what’s really happening up there on the stage. Rahman is dressed in full whites. He’s at the center of the stage. To his left is Sivamani with his mega setup of drums. Just ahead of him are the guitarists and the bass guitarist. To his right is the flautist and the orchestra with violins, violas and drum pads. The chorus is further to their right. They also dance a bit to the tunes, making it look real good.

The line-up of singers: Chitra, Hariharan, Alka Yagnik, Kailash Kher, Sadhana Sargam, Sukhwinder Singh, Madhushree, Shankar Mahadevan, Blaaze and Alma (from Bosnia, she’s done the vocals for the Lord of the Rings to be screened later this year).

One after the other, melodies and music are flowing off the loud-speakers. The rains are holding off nicely, not disrupting the performance.

Kailash Kher, moving between baritones and tenors, rendering “Mangal Mangal” sounds great. He leaves after the song, we’ll be missing out on other songs of his which would’ve been on the list. Especially, we’ll miss “Yun Hi Chala Chal”.

Half an hour into the show, there’s a big rush ahead of us. There are a lot of empty seats that we can see from here. The crowds ahead of us in the next row are rushing forward into the seating area. Some of the people from our row are jumping the barricades and going there. The police suddenly realize what’s happening and they use their ‘lathis’. But a lot of people still cross over. The police are out-numbered. We, like good citizens, stay our ground. However, even our gates are opened up and we walk across to the next rows. There’s mud and slush everywhere, we wade through it. People stamp over others’ toes, just to be the first ones to get across. Police use lathis again. We are spared. We cross over, go ahead, and there still is a lot of room to go ahead. We keep going forward, jump over bars and barricades, finally reach where all the people are. I think we’re at the rows where people have paid at least 10 times what we’ve paid. We could actually also be at the rows where people have paid 20 times what we’ve paid.

All the people who’ve come from behind are now taking up every space available, and they stand and watch. The people who were comfortably sitting and enjoying till now get frustrated. They plead “we’ve been sitting and watching. Please, you also sit and enjoy.” Falls on deaf ears. People are also standing on top of chairs to catch glimpses of the performers. Sad, indeed. The ‘poor’ people who’ve really paid to enjoy the show from the front are now having to stand to see something beyond the throngs of people who’ve suddenly appeared from nowhere. Ah, they’re all Rahman fans, folks, they’ll do whatever it takes to be “in it”.

We all go off to the sides, where surprisingly, not many people want to be. However, there are people in front of us standing on chairs. We can’t see much. My friends grab chairs. They say get on it, we’ll at least enjoy it this way. Bahubali protests. Let’s not do that, if we do it, others will do it as well and we won’t be able to enjoy. Others will complain. No one heeds it. I too, usually the rule-abiding good fellow, don’t. I grab a chair and get on it. Bahubali joins.

Now on, the view’s a lot better. we’re much closer to the stars. “Kehna hi kya…” Chitra. Heavenly.

The projectors come to life an hour after the show started. Better late than never. Madhushree’s on the screens, belting out “Kabhi Neem Neem Kabhi Shehad Shehad” from “Yuva”. Wow, so mesmerising. She also has a great screen presence. Her moves are captivating. We’re thoroughly enjoying ourselves. Our voices are louder than the singers themselves now, the public around us are wondering what they’re getting to hear is actually what they want to hear. One wouldn’t mind the public getting ecstatic during the Ganesh festivals and singing in the public then. But listening to the crowds during a Rahman show is not really what’s on the things to look forward to. Hariharan’s singing in Tamil. We sing the Hindi lyrics. “Chanda Re.. Chanda Re..” Hell, shedding inhibitions, they too join us.

We’re swaying away, dancing, all on the chairs, balancing ourselves and enjoying the show. “Mustafa, Mustafa, don’t worry Mustafa”, “Taal se Taal Mila”, “Chhaiya Chhaiya”, the score from Bombay Dreams, “Closer than Ever”, meshed with “Ishq bina”, “O Humdum Suniyo Re”, “Baar Baar Haan…”(Lagaan), “Chupke Se”, “Humma Humma”, “Titli Daboch Li Maine” and a few Tamil hits.

Every singer, at the end of their first song, commends the Bangalore audience. No one has seen such a crowd that waits through incessant and heavy rains for a concert. We all cheer for ourselves.

He gives us a taste of a new song he’s composed, it hasn’t been released yet. He says we deserve it. He also plays a song he’s recorded for the UN for the movement to eradicate poverty. We’re all waving, supporting the cause.

Sivamani presents his solo. This is really a treat during the Rahman shows. He starts from one end of his setup, slowly makes his way towards the other end and then finally takes it to a majestic completion. It lasts 10 minutes. We’re totally immersed and entranced.

Blaaze keeps doing his rap bits every now and then. He, in his style, sings fast and puts in a lot of “Bangalore” in it. People ask for translations. Crowd is amused.

Shankar Mahadevan and Rahman engage in a jugalbandi. Mahadevan with his vocals, Rahman on the keyboard. Mahadevan exploits his complete vocal range. Rahman matches with his fingers. It’s an absolute treat. He then starts off with “Ghanana Ghanana…” from Lagaan. He’s imploring the heavens to open up. The crowd yells a big “NO”. But we’re enjoying this totally. Dry or wet, we’re going to enjoy this. At the end of the song, Mahadevan says it’s not over yet. In the movie, it never actually rains. The clouds come and go, leaving the farmers without rain and dejected. Mahadevan eggs on Rahman: had it rained in the movie, like it rained today, how would Rahman have composed the music? He starts off with Raaga Malhar. Oh, such a beautiful rendition. The music just flows. This is excellent stuff. Masterful. Enchanting.

We are all enjoying this thoroughly. More music. There are hints of rain returning. It gathers speed a while later. It seems Rahman quickly shortens the show even further. He doles out a beautiful “Azaadi…” from “Bose” and moves on to “Ma Tujhe Salaam”. The entire crowd is on its feet. The drizzle’s picking speed. Everyone has his arms spread out. Rahman reaches his highest point of voice. The rain is now as heavy as it was before the show started. No one is moving. All are looking up, arms stretched, singing along with Rahman. We’re paying tribute to our motherland. To the genius. “God is so kind. We finish and it starts again. God bless you all.” I don’t want to leave. I want more. We all plead for more.

What a genius. Great musician. What a kind soul. May the music keep flowing, enthralling us for many years to come.

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