Saturday, October 23, 2010

Jai Ho World Tour at Detroit - II

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!


kannan said...

pity :(
i was hoping it would be a bit more personal, and a bit more tamil.

ravinat said...

I had the unfortunate experience of going for the Toronto concert and even Hariharan sodhapified.

The song list was the same as in Detroit. Laptronica came in handy (live track mixing to a performance), but zero soul. Everybody was busy mechanically going thru their lines. ARR could have done a webex for this!

I am quite familiar with ARR's Hindi tracks, but the performance was terrible by most artists. Loud, jarring and more focused on the Bollywood dancers and lasers. There is only so much you can hear ARR singing.

Did you notice that the marketing is now done in a way that makes you wonder, if he has become arrogant? Since the Sydney concert, they show credits, where they show a Gandhi quote, a Mother Teresa quote and then a Rahman quote! After these two great souls, India has produced such a humble soul - that's how I read the marketing message.

Ravi Natarajan