Three-and-a-half hours of unstoppable adrenaline flow is the best way to describe AR Rahman’s show last week. Foot-tapping tunes, electrifying rhythm, rocking rap, heart-wrenching renditions of mellifluous songs, sublime devotional numbers and pulsating patriotic offerings made for a memorable musical experience. And for about 30,000 milling multi-cultural fans at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, it simply wasn’t enough.
The versatile soundtrack musician and composer took the audience on a journey beginning with his debut effort for the movie Roja, which catapulted him into superstar league. All the hits followed: the hip-thrusting Humma, Humma (from the film Bombay), the melodious Jiya Jale (from Dil Se), Nanare, Nanare, Mayya, Mayya (from Guru), Chandare... (Minsarakanavu) and the ultimate love song, More Piya (Yuva). He also served up more recent tracks, including Vajee, Vajee (Shivaji, the Boss), Saregama (Boys) and Khwaja Mere Khwaja (Jodha Akbar), and the patriotic Vande Mataram.
For all this, he performed with a stellar cast of singers: from the incomparable KS Chitra, the versatile fusionist Hariharan, to Sadhana Sargam and the youthful Karthik, the energetic Blaaze and Madhushree. And to top it all, one of India’s finest percussionists, Sivamani, who mesmerised the audience by coaxing beats from whatever objects he could lay his hands on, whether a suitcase, a water can, or spoons. It was a repertoire that brilliantly showed the evolution of Rahman as oriental wizard.
All through the concert, Rahman remained the central thread, playing keyboard now, occasionally joining the chorus and spicing up the mix on memorable numbers such as Humma, Humma and Tere Bina. And each time, the audience erupted.
But did the audience, a perfect representation of cosmopolitan India, want more? We wished SP Balasubramaniam was there for that immortal song, Roja, Roja… and for the melancholic Uyire, Uyire. Hariharan’s rendition was spirited, but left lovers of the original tracks feeling wistful.