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A.R.Rahman Concert Review: ARR brings the storm

Dec 30, 2012


YMCA Nandanam, apart from being a reputed sports college, is also the preferred destination for a number of morning/evening walkers. If you had never been in the campus before, the organizers ensured that you took a tour of the entire place on foot, largely due to the lack of signage and proper briefing to the workforce employed for crowd management. Once you entered the concert area it seemed like a confederation of a young generation which has literally grown up dancing and humming to Rahman’s tunes. But there were also those who were in their prime age, clearly impressed by the young man’s craft. With still some time to go for the official reporting time to clock in, the place was packed, and more were on their way in.

If the crowd were distinguished by denomination and separated by barricades, they were unified by a spell of heavy rain which first began as a friendly drizzle. Not even the MIP’s were spared by the showers which proved to be the bringer of harmony or atleast the realization of how everyone was very much the one and the same under the great big sky. It was the most fitting time and place for such an episode as Rahman himself has been campaigning the same message through his side projects. This occurrence was in a sense Chennai’s own Woodstock moment.

A buzz around the venue alerted everyone’s attention towards the stage and soon thereafter the opening chants of ‘Udal Manukku Uyir Tamizhukku’ emerged from the centre. The group of backing vocalists and the backing band were finding their groove with the opening bars before Rahman appeared out of a fancy enclosure singing the anthemic ‘En Desathin Kural’ from the Tamil version of Swades, sending the crowd into raptures. There was a look of determination on ARR’s face apart from carrying the emotions of a homecoming. An equally loud cheer was reserved for Director Mani Ratnam who was shown on the big screens being seated in the audience as Rahman surged into ‘Elay Keechan’. More than a cheer, the ovation for Mani Ratnam sounded like the fans’ display of gratitude towards the film-maker for bringing Rahman on to the scene, besides bringing out the best in him. Director Shankar and Rajiv Menon’s presence was also fondly acknowledged by the crowd.

Rahman quickly dispensed himself from the singing duties and made way for Hariharan and Mano to deliver the first of four medleys of the evening. The duo hustled through numerous songs from films like Endhiran, Padayappa, Thiruda Thiruda, Iruvar, Muthu and Sivaji. While each song lasted barely a minute, the relentless changes seemed to catch even the singers short of breath in trying to keep up with the pace of the medley. Hariharan a few moments later had a ‘forgetful’ moment while performing ‘Kadhal Rojave’ along with Chitra. He labored his way through the song, singing part of it in Hindi as he couldn’t channel his thoughts to recall the Tamil words, possibly due to the tricky rearrangement of the song (something that would be a common feature of this show). Expectedly, it should be edited out of the TV telecast because it would contradict the show’s theme of featuring only Tamil songs.

Benny Dayal was the first of the young bloods to step into the spotlight, and he represented them very well in his swanky red jacket and bow-tie. He was joined by Karthik immediately and with Rahman grabbing himself a mic, tore into ‘Girlfriend’ from Boys. Chinmayi surfaced on stage to a rousing reception and her duet with Karthik would make for one of the best moments of the evening. Together they performed a rehashed reggae version of ‘Athangara Marame’ from Kizhakku Cheemayile. A splendid rearrangement delivered by a delightful performance by the two talents. The segment was yet another elaborate medley featuring songs from Indian, Alaipayudhey and a few more. A few staple Rahman Live show tunes, ‘Humma Humma’ and ‘Mustafa’, were performed in its entirety by its composer, followed by a thunderous rearrangement of ‘Nenjinille’ (Uyire) sung with sheer precision and nonchalance by Chitra. The rearrangements, by and large, were inclined towards being heavier rock influenced versions, and were well delivered with the aid of a tight drummer and two talented guitarists in Sanjeev Thomas and Keba.

In a bid to squeeze in all the favorite classics Rahman sprung up yet another medley led by Hariharan. Starting with ‘Nila Kaigiradhu’ they sang together on an uplifting version of ‘Uyire’ (Bombay). One of the surprises of the evening, in terms of song selection, was the supremely challenging ‘Thee Thee’ from Thiruda Thiruda and the crew pulled together an effervescent performance of the song. It was getting quite apparent that Rahman was going to calm things down for some time. Providing the tranquility was the songbird Chitra, flautist Naveen and Rahman himself atop a curious looking instrument that looked like an elaborate electronic pedal steel. The change up was very welcome for the ‘Marghazi Masam’. Chitra was particularly endearing as she performed songs from Kandukondein Kandukondein and Paarthale Paravasam. This worked out as a segment catered to the melody lovers.

The accordion intro was greeted with ecstasy by the crowd as they anticipated ‘Nenjukulle’ to be a part of the playlist. Shaktishree Gopalan looked to be overwhelmed by the audience’s reception and she performed the rest of the song with a sort of a nervous innocence which was charming in its own way. Rahman then took his seat behind the grand piano and played the unmistakable opening notes of ‘Adiye’. This was also probably the first time the public were getting to see Sid Sriram, and he sang like a caged-up tiger pleading, nay demanding, to be set free or else. He had his back up choir, dressed in all black, as the pillars of his performance. ‘Moongil Thottam’ and ‘Magudi’ too found their place on the set list, each delivered with the same conviction as the studio recordings.

Another noteworthy performer of the group was Neeti Mohan, who’s show was as sensual as her prime skillset as she contributed to songs like ‘Irumbile’ (Endhiran) and the ironically picked ‘Hello Mr. Ethirkatchi’ (Iruvar). Rahman was peaking towards a crescendo with this segment and it virtually blew the roof off when he sang ‘Urvasi’ (Kadhalan), a song that he clearly enjoyed performing along with Benny and Naresh Iyer. For the encore he went with predictable ‘Vande Mataram’ to close the proceedings, preceded by a Tamil version of ‘Jai Ho’ that caught some people off guard.

While the show had its moments of misgivings it was only human nature for it to happen, besides imperfections add to the thrills of witnessing a Live performance. If you were seeking mechanical precision, you’re better off listening to the studio tracks on your music players. Despite the heavy commercial undercurrent, the substance of the set list and the intermittent weather, the show proved to be a huge success in uniting different people in the cause for promoting peace and harmony under the guise of music, making it unforgettable for numerous reasons.

Rahman had returned home to serve a greater purpose with his music!



1. Udal Mannukku (Iruvar)

2. En Desathin Kural (Desam)

3. Elay Keechan (Kadal)


4. Medley 1 – Hariharan & Mano

Arima Arima (Endhiran)

Veerapandi Kotaiyile (Thiruda Thiruda)

Anbe Anbe (Jeans)

Kuchi Kuchi Rakamma (Bombay)

Kannai Kattikolladhe (Iruvar)

En Pearu Padayappa (Padayappa)

Vaaji Vaaji (Sivaji)

Ballelakka (Sivaji)


5. Kadhal Rojave (Roja)


6. Medley 2 – Benny Dayal, Karthik, Chinmayi, Neeti Mohan & Naresh Iyer

Omana Penne (VTV)

Girlfriend (Boys)

Athangara Marame (Kizhakku Cheemayile)

Tada (Indian)

July Madham Vandhal (Pudhiya Mugam)

Endrendrum Punnagai (Alaipayuthey)

Kannum kannum (Thiruda Thiruda)


7. Humma Humma (Bombay)

8. Nenjinille (Uyire)


9. Medley 3 – Hariharan, Chitra

Nila Kaigiradhu (Indra)

Uyire (Bombay)


10.Thee Thee (Thiruda Thiruda)


11. Medley 4 – Chitra

Kannamoochi – Kandukondein Kandukondein

Anbe Ne Sugama – Parthale Paravasam

Engey Enadhu Kavidhai - Kandukondein Kandukondein


12. Nenjukulle (Kadal)

13. Adiye (Kadal)

14. Hell Mr. Ethir Katchi (Iruvar)

15. Moongil Thottam (Kadal)

16. Irumbile (Endhiran)

17. Urvasi (Kadhalan)

18.Magudi Magudi (Kadal)

19. Jai Ho (Tamil)

20. Vande Mataram



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