jai-ho

ARR came

ARR performed

ARR left

..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

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24 thoughts on “jai-ho

    • No SK, the show was produced such is my strong guess. Humma, and Mangalyam, Kandukondein – came up, the crowds went crazy. It was deafening. There was a very strong south base.

  1. Post Oscars, ARR became a brand that is handled by PR execs. He will do what ‘they’ will promote as ‘cool’. So you see all this paraphernalia that is displacing his original personality – that of a quite,shy,solitude preferring composer who preferred to use mix a bit of everything – acoustic music, technology, classical genres, western pop, blues, folk etc. That was ARR making music for what he thought as ‘experiments’ and they worked. But Now that he has become a brand, everyone wants a piece of revenue for the hype they are adding and he has to live up to it so that ‘the albums sell’.Suddenly you see ARR dancing on stage, in contrast to ARR playing ‘Anjali Anjali’ on Piano with a smile.Suddenly you find a forgettable ‘Thok De Killi’ finding place as a chartbuster, on contrast to that fantastic ballad ‘Dil Se Re’.suddenly you see ARR signing up a pathetic film called ‘Blue’, where the hype is about he teaming up with Kylie Minogue to deliver an absolute failure called ‘Chiggy Wiggy’.And today, you see ARR talking about he making music on Apple in LA and sending ‘rough cuts’ and ‘templates’ to lyricist in Chennai and instructing his ‘Team’ in Chennai to record with singers from Bombay, so that he can review the ‘files’ once they send them him when he is in London and he can give a go ahead to the final mix by his ‘Team’ in Chennai.Presto! the next ARR album is out and his fans cheer while some give brickbats and before this ends, he is off to create the next ‘Anthem’ song for some event.

    Technology Sure helps and I do understand the positive aspects of globalisation.But anything when done in excess, robs the soul.
    Listen to this brilliant album called “Meenaxi – A tale of 3 Cities”. An album that can dwarf all his collective work, post the Oscars.
    Bottomline: Give me that pre-Oscar ARR, anyday.

    • Yeah, I know and agree. I had a feeling the Oscar would change him, but since we are so far removed, and the shows are only window to him.
      I had no idea about the way he does his music, but yes, I haven’t particularly liked his recent numbers. Old base can only take you to a certain point, cant ride it forever..

      Yeah, just got meexai – Thanks Praveen – will listen.

      That’s what I am saying – miss the old man. Fame does change a person and at a cost, but one should be able to withstand it and not let the person be dwarfed.

  2. Rads: Am envious! But to be honest, as non Hindi speakers we were bound to be disappointed. It happened in all the concerts I have been, even in the Chennai concert last year. He wants to reach out to everyone, I guess.

    • Anantha – I speak and understand Hindi very well, just that I know his songs in Tamil more than Hindi.:-D

      I don’t know if that logic would work, about him reaching out. After his Oscar, it’s more like he is above languages, and PR has taken over. It was surreal watching the whole evening go by..

    • haha @header – yeah, ARR poster :)

      Right! After staying here awhile, it tends to go into the background a bit, but somehow ARR doing this was a little disappointing. He is after all ‘namma aazhu’ :-)

  3. ya… thats pretty much what I hv been hearing frm all quarters abt the concert….going for grandeur, i guess they lost the purpose of giving a good musical treat….
    i got to wait till Sep 17th when he comes back…. and if $75 was that far, I am at $55… maybe i will sit outside !!

    • Right. It’s just that we expect it to be a musical extravaganza, not an entertaining circus show, and it did remind me of Cirque de soleil in some parts :)

      lol@$55 – it all depends on the size of the arena :)

  4. See that’s what I was afraid of – that the concert would be a big show instead…I procrastinated on buying tickets and the show in our city has been postponed to Sep as well – I think I will pass. Much as I like his Hindi songs, I think some of his best work is in Tamil, so to be fed only snippets of Tamil songs would be too disappointing for the price!

    • O lord, I am surely going to be targeted or something for doing this post!
      In any case, it really all depends on what you want. A show – yes! if music is all you care for, then be prepared to be distracted a bit with the extras around you.

      As a friend reminded me, not all Hindi songs are mainstream/popular or even musically out there. So yeah, it’s a touch n go concert alright for us.

  5. Can totally relate Rads. I went for his concert 10 years back at the shrine auditorium in LA with a 2 month old ear plugged new born and came out wishing he had sung more songs in Tamil :)

    • Back then too Sands? I went to one concert in early 2004 (I think) and he had way too many singers – about 8 or so and only SPB could do southie songs, then it seemed to make sense..

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