It was quite a shock when I heard last month about the demise of Swarnalatha who will always be remembered for her incredible sweet voice. It is still fresh in my memory about her interview during Chinna Thambi release where she demonstrated the change in bhavam for the songs "Poovoma Oorvolam" and "Nee Yenge Naan Inge" that were set in same tune though. Unlike S.Janaki who used to have an effortless style of singing, I remember Swarnalatha's renditions with a stiff posture and high concentration.
I don't know, if anyone can bring back the magic of "Ennulle Ennulle", "Maalayil Yaaro Manathodu", "Kuyil Paattu", "Hai Rama Yeh Kya Huva" and many more... She excelled in all genres of songs and some of my favorites include "Aattama Therottama" from Captain Prabhakaran and "Maaya Machindra". Her voice dynamics is simply superb.
Though Swarnalatha is not among us in physical form, truly, her incredible sweet voice and creations will be around us for ever.
A few lines from O Sana backed with heavy drumming was followed by huge cheers from the crowd. Promptly, I turned back to take stock of the crowd size and to my surprise pretty much the entire $50 ticketed rows were EMPTY. I concluded that I fell into the good sales trap like many others.
Followed by this introduction, A.R.Rahman spoke a couple of lines from a well-scripted play welcoming the crowd and the organizers. My interest in music as you all might know has been around the peripherals of what Raaja has offered so far. If he hasn't explored something, I haven't got a chance to know yet. That said, a bummer was followed by another bummer and was followed by another and it went on.. I mean, every song that was sung was something that I never heard of or I just knew a few lines. Again, my bad Hindi and.. I wasn't expecting though.
I remember that A.R.Rahman started his career with Roja in Tamil with Mr.Mani Rathnam. I remember A.R.Rahman scoring a huge number of mass hits in Tamil before venturing and establishing himself in Bollywood. And I remember A.R.Rahman saying a few words in Tamil on the Oscar stage that kept several Tamil fanatics happy. I understand, music doesn't have any language. But, the damn lyrics, underlying emotions and the ears do. Bottomline, I kept waiting till a song would be sung that I can hum and recognize fully.
I was not let down. There were a handful (5?) songs and a few bits that were in Tamil.
- Adhiradee (Sivaji)
- A song from Enthiran
- A song from Enthiran
- A song from Enthiran
- Hello, Mr. Ethirkatchi
5 out of around 30 songs (15%) that were performed were in Tamil. And it was a bit difficult for my mind to rationalize 3 songs from Enthiran! The other most recognized face during the night was Mr.Hariharan and his most recognized "Thamiza Thamiza" was sung, but again in Hindi and the last few verses in Tamil.
Let me categorically state that I am not a Tamil fanatic, but, I was thoroughly disappointed with the treatment that were given to thousands of Tamil fans who turned up during the night and were cheering up every time a word was pronounced in Tamil. Not a statistician, but I could confidently say that more than 60% of the crowd who turned up there were Tamil speaking population. Indian population in Detroit mainly consists of people from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. Huge shouts for at least 1 song in Telugu was conveniently ignored as the script took precedence over natural interaction with the crowd.
To my further disappointment, after "Hai Rama" song was sung by Mr.Hariharan and a co-singer, I was expecting a humane touch to pray for a minute or say a few words about Swarnalatha who has sung some real great songs for A.R.Rahman. No. The team followed the script.
The night was shadowed by performances, well scripted and rehearsed dances and for a person like me who was expecting some vocal musical performance, Mr.Hariharan was the only solace. Overall, it was all about the script, rehearsal, performance, dance and marketing.
Next time, I will have to build my Bollywood music database well before I decide to jump in for A.R.R's concert. But, who knows? He might go international!
Jai Ho fever was picking up or at least the trailers in every Indian movie I watched during May-June at Detroit gave a huge precursor. Though not an ardent fan of ARR's music, I wasn't musically retarded to ignore the partial fun that I was sure to have. Point of Sale is the place where we make most of our shopping choices :) Yes, I decided to buy the ticket instantly while I was gazing at the poster at the checkout counter in one of the Indian groceries out here. I was surprised to know that they sold out all the $50 tickets a month prior to the event. I wasn't giving up. Decided to swipe my card for the next available shot at $75, though my mind was already processing the wisdom of my decision. To my next surprise, the sales counter person refused to accept anything but cash. Wow! That didn't sound straight at all. Again, music sense prevailed over and I quickly handed over the usually-rare-to-have cash from my wallet.
The D day arrived and I decided to go with one of my friend. We were half way towards the venue to only hear that the stage collapsed and the show was cancelled. I was very disappointed like thousands of the audience and we still went to the venue to be certain. I had a planned tour to India in Aug-Sep and I kept my fingers crossed till the new date for the event was announced. I was quite lucky to return back a week before the new date on 25th September.
This time, we went at least 1 hour in advance and after the security screening we were let in. I was seated on 26th row and was constantly looking at the crowd size. As you would expect, the show started at the Indian Standard Time - around 8:30 PM as opposed to the announced 8:00 PM. Huge thunder of drums and techno laser lights on a well-architected stage was followed by the appearance of A.R.Rahman in the most stylish, but though unusual that he has ever appeared. Being a very reserved and soft spoken, it was quite a surprise to see him appearing in a costume that has been custom designed and asked to pose like Micheal Jackson.