..and we were left standing in the crowd with our mouths and senses agape.
Clouds of doubt and questions over all our minds – “really? THIS is it?”
Disappointment overtook many and we smiled through it all. Coz, it was after all one heck of a show with ARR center stage and the accompanying dancers performed in orchestrated perfection, the music was great and the crowds were vibrant and it was well, as I said, a great show.
So why disappointment, you ask? Coz of our expectations, naturally. No, don’t get me wrong. The show as great, just not the kind of great we expected.
Tracking back, I have always believed that music transcends language. I still do. Just not vehemently as I used to before the show. I speak retrospectively, coz I put my expectations and the show together, and what am left with (along with a whole bunch of friends who echo my thoughts to the finest detail) is the fact that as much as music transcends the language it carries through, sometimes it’s not always about the music.
It’s about the conductor, the orchestra, the entertainers, the producers, the audience/crowd and the aura of it all.
It all started a few months before the date was set for the local performance. Friend picked up tickets and emails kept flying back and forth on the tickets selling out, the numbers needed, the songs that could play, the babysitting arrangements, the singers coming with him, and so on and on and on. Frenzied sharing of preview videos, the reviews, the prep videos that went viral on facebook, and the anticipation. It was heightened fever.
The day came and it has been a while since I saw so many desis under one roof. Way too many – it was like I walked out of Chennai airport and bam! there I get stoned into seeing so many brown faces all at once, and it takes a moment to sink in – yes, am home. The area I live in isn’t that heavy-concentrated desi kinds, we exist in enough numbers, but not all at once anywhere. So yes, it was a pleasure and a bit of a hide n seek, to hide from some and seek the others.
Simply put, the show was extravagant.
They came here with a purpose to put together a jazzy eye-popping show never seen before and they did. Lithe dancers doing some crazy unbelievable moves, complete with props, hanging mid-air, balancing on single ropes, enacting scenes from the movies’ visual, all were overwhelming as much as they were exciting.
Sometimes the dancers took away from the music, sometimes they enhanced it.
Sometimes ARR took away from the music, sometimes he enhanced it.
Before I get stoned for saying something blasphemous about the mighty man, let me clarify. ARR’s music is amazing, and I am one among the many desis who are proud of his accomplishments and his contributions. No issues there. I speak of the show. The show is a whole another animal altogether and that’s where I say that ARR was a part of it (admittedly a large part) and the experience of sitting through two hours of it was most definitely carried more than just him.
Art is and will always be beyond the performer, the creator even. Once a second person experiences it, the artist will have to forego many a right on his piece. (I am not talking legalities here.) In the same vein, I speak of personalities and characters who are molded to a certain role. The humility and the modesty – the quiet pride with which he stood and held the Oscar and the earlier (show) instances when one has seen a demure man with a straight head on square shoulders – is admirable. Maybe even the single most reason when his music is transcended by the tangible nature of ARR being ‘one among us’. No star material, an ordinary man making extraordinary music. Other things fall into place naturally.
So when ARR comes out wearing this heavily jeweled overcoat, (There were a couple of references to the our dear MJ), walking into the midst of the crowd with his large instrument slung over his shoulder – forgive me for not wanting to shriek his name or get hugely excited. For one, it wasn’t the ARR we related to. Two: the lights, jazz and the pomp and show – the setting seemed very incongruous.
Even if I did want to overlook all of the frill, and focused just on the aura of the music, we were left with just wanting a little bit more on the Tamil songs. Telugu, I knew he wouldn’t sing anyway, but I expected Tamil, as that’s where he broke ground.
We were to be happy with perhaps three – Mangalyam, Roja (hindi), Humma Humma, and a couple of stanzas from others. Hariharan’s rendition of just 30 seconds of “Kandukondein” should have clued in to everyone present regarding the demographics of the audience. That’s it. Done. Khalas. Tamil, was relegated to the green room.
I could write more on the Hindi songs and the various antics of the entertainers, ARR’s attempt to be a man of the crowd, and the musical treat that lasted two hours but seemed much much short (don’t they always?), and how the crowd had the time of their life, but I’ll stop here. I left the hall with a slight tug at the heart, coz I assumed that I’d hear more songs that I grew up on. Husband on the other hand left a happy man. Not only did he wangle a surprise ticket for the show the evening before, but is clueless on tamil and hence didn’t cloud his expectations.
Here’s a short video I shot of the finale.
Yes, it’s far (that’s where the $75 seats were). No, I couldn’t zoom in – it was the iphone. Enjoy!
I shared coz I am the nice person that I am and I’d like for you to get a small taste of what it was to be there, not get the whole experience :-p