I could not attend Celine Dion’s concert at United Center Chicago last year in November. The concert was moved to December as it was clashing with Obama’s big night, the Victory Night Rally. I got free pass to attend the Victory Night rally that was attended by more than 125,000 people (CNN). It was wonderfully managed and it was a historic occasion!
It was the last day of May and the end of a not too hot summer for Pune, when Rahman and his troop of 70 performers landed here to kick-off the Jai Ho World Tour! Twitterer AParanjape (@aparanjape) estimated there were more than 10,000 people. After the concert ended, one smart guy walking behind me with his friends, apparently from IIT Bombay, estimated there to be 15,000 people. In his own words “there would be 500 rows with 300 seats per row, makes it 15,000”. I wondered how, cause my mathematics told me that multiplication leads to 150,000! Anyway. I believe there would have been something between 20,000 to 30,000 people!
The concert was anchored by Radio Mirchi RJs and the sponsors were Times of India, Venky Eggs and MIT (Maharashtra Institute of Technology, Kothrud, in front of Durga!). All you could hear during the first 30 minutes or so were just “boo”s from the crowd, for the terrible remarks, and speeches by the organizers and the hosts! I would really not like to write more on that! However, entry into the stadium was made really easy and was quick enough. Atleast for those who had purchased tickets worth Rs 1000 and above. Parking was a hell. The organizers had definitely not expected the tons of cars and two wheelers that eventually turned up! Obviously the Balewadi Stadium on Mumbai-Pune-Bangalore Bypass Highway is not well connected by Public Transport! It took me 45 minutes to find my Activa after the concert. There were absolutely no lights and no markers in the parking lot!
The concert however, was brilliant! Absolutely. This was the first full scale concert I have ever attended! Some other small scale ones were during college social festivals at IIT Kharagpur and IIT Bombay. Enough would be written in the days to come and more than enough would be talked about the most wonderful musical experience that lasted almost 3 hours. Rahman got Hariharan, Sadhana Sargam, Roop Kumar Rathod, Rashid Ali, Raja Hassan, Rekha Bhardwaj, Shraddha Pandit and a few more… Dil Se, Humma Humma, Roja, Tu Hi Re, Kabhi Kabhi Aditi, Khwaja Mere Khwaja were soul touching…
Almost all songs from Delhi 6 were performed on stage. Brilliant voices of Shraddha Pandit and Rekha Bhardwaj together with a few more gave a wonderful rendering of Genda Phool! The crowd was up on its feet!
The best part of the concert was when Rahman was on the Piano and Hariharan, Roop Kumar Rathod were beside him with mikes, singing Tu Hi Re…!
We had all thought that the concert was over when the anchors called everyone on the stage and Lata Mangeshkar handed a Puneri Pagdi and Shawl to Rahman… but it was not to be so!
The show started again and this time there was the best mixing ever of almost all of Rahman’s compositions…Rahman came back to sing Khwaja mere khwaja and also played the harmonium along with it. That was followed by Humma humma… and finally Jai Ho, that everybody was waiting for! Just as Jai Ho was about to get over, the music was fantastically morphed into Vande Mataram from Maa Tujhe Salaam to conclude what was a wonderful evening! The concert was totally worth the money and maybe many times over! I just forgot to mention that the visual graphics on the stage were absolutely mind blowing and something I had never seen before!
There were however things which appalled me! For a crowd of well over 20,000 people there were only about 15 portable toilet cabins, out of which 4 were definitely not functional! The traffic and parking management was terrible. Cops were still on their way to the venue an hour after the concert was over! Quite a few people AParanjape (@aparanjape), myself (@aditto), Veda (@vedaaggarwal) twittered almost throughout the concert. Today’s Pune Mirror reported on the front page about Tweets from the concert and it was most shocking to find only one person (Veda) in the report. Almost all her tweets were listed down. I quickly logged on to the net to check the person and soon realised that the account was perhaps created only to tweet about the concert. That account has only 50 Twitter Updates so far. Compare that number to 2475 (Paranjape) and 6463 (me). I really wonder why Pune Mirror needs to “create news”. What sense did it make to have someone create a twitter account only for the concert and then claim in the newspaper “Balewadi Tweets”. This is appalling!
I believe the reporting of Pune Mirror is almost terrible and makes no sense to read it. It has more news from around the world than of Pune. It has more on Paris Hilton than on local Punekar! Anyway… me and my flatmates have decided to go for Indian Express from June. The concert management could have been better, the anchors should have been some better professionals, and the promotional advertisements (the way they were shown) could have been totally eliminated!
However, it was Rahman. There could never be anything better than the ‘Mozart of Madras’ performing live. His humility and brilliance put everything else in the back seat and at the end of the day, the smile on everyone’s face was all thanks to the first Oscar Winning Indian Mr Rahman!
After the concert, SA, sitting in the Rs 5000 section, sends me the following SMS –
Awesome! Rahman is the man! and I am the man too! :) :P
Kindly excuse the grammar and tone of the article.
Miss Veda has clarified that she used Twitter as the medium to compose the article as she would not have had the energy to come back after the concert and put together an article. Justified! However, I would still not agree on the title and the way it was portrayed. Also, those tweets missed pointing out the mismanagement by the organisers!