Archive for August, 2008

12
Aug
08

Review of Unforgettable show in Atlantic City

I went to the Atlantic city unforgettable show last weekend. Having been to a couple of such shows before, we knew the show won’t start till 9:30. So while the insanely huge crowd was trying to push it’s way into the hall, we enjoyed the open air nice blues gospel music in front of the hall. We got in without any blockages at about 10 min before 9:30.

The show started with a countdown with a loud thump at each number which grew louder till Ritesh Deshmukh appeared on stage. He went on with some of his popular numbers like Cash and Hey Babby. His dancing was OK, but he looked pretty tired. Shiamak Dawar’s troupe was dancing very well, though the steps were pretty predictable. Ritesh definitely got the crowd stirred up and wanting for more. He then blurted a few words about Priety and set the stage for her.

Instead of a live compere, they were using some pre-recorded deep manly voice speaking about the stars while their filmy clips were playing on the three large TVs placed one in the center and one each on the two sides. Well, this voice sounded like some national geographic documentary and at times even like Darth Vader. It was very monotonous, went on and on at times and the overall feel was like a Award show rather than a live show.

The stage as I said had a square LCD screen in the center and then 4 vertical long LCD panels covering the height of the stage on each side. All graphics effect started from the center LCD screen and went all the way out the the LCD panels giving a nice techno look. At the center of the hall there were some lighting from the ceiling that looked like a bunch of flash lights strung together and they went on and off once in a while lazily and somewhat randomly.

Well, back to the stars, Priety Zinta came with a bang and danced to her popular numbers, some notable numbers were from Dil Se and Where’s the party tonight. The crowd started up warmly but then got pretty hooked up towards the end of her performance. She looked better and did much better than what I was expecting. It was really nice of her to mention her uncle and aunty who were in the show. She then rambled some words about Abhishek and set the stage from him. Then that boring recorded voice went on and added more blah blah blah.

There was a silence and then there was some crowd movement in the back center area. My mother panicked and thought there was a short circuit. But after a while the unexpected happened. Abhishekh Bachan emerged from there like a god emerging out of the clouds, the lazy center lights located him and made him look even more godly. He was wearing some silver stuff to add to the spectacle. The crowd went berserk. He then proceeded to the stage. It was apparent that he didn’t rehearse well, and his dance was to put it mildly sloppy. The girls still went crazy at his mere presence. He then commanded the crowd to stand up and the crowd did. Then I guess he did the number from Dus.

Abhishek introduced Aishwarya and she came in and mumbled something about how great the crowd is etc. For some reason the crowd was least responsive to her. Maybe because her cheeks looked a bit chubby and she appears to have put some weight around her waist. I think the crowd was somewhat shocked, expecting to see the Aish they have adored in magazines and movies. She danced to some numbers that I can’t remember – I think there was one song from Devdas. Her dancing was OK.

Aish then started building momentum for the next appearance and everyone thought it will be Madhuri. But it turned out to be Jaya Bacchan. Jaya Bacchan read from a paper about some preserve energy stuff. A good half an hour of the show was dedicated for the same.

After this Vishal Shekhar took on the stage with live orchestra and started crooning their hit songs one after another. Vishal kept criss-crossing the stage like a hurt tiger and Shekhar kept jumping as if he is preparing for a skipping competition. I have to give this to the guys, after the dance troupe – they showed more energy than any other stars on the show. Unfortunately, their voice sounded out of tune and they sounded like a bunch of drunk folks doing Karaoke. The overall acoustics was poor and in the back it was all sounding like a big howl. Don’t know if it was the sound mixing, but I think the orchestra was fake and they were singing on pre-recorded tracks.

Vishal Shekhar gave away for the one and only Amitabh Bachan, but not before the invisible voice went on and on about his greatness. Anyways what followed, according to me were the best moments of the show. He started by singing RD Burman number “Jahan teri yeh nazar” from Kalia. Amitabh commands immense star power – he didn’t have to ask but the crowd stood up and did bhagwan dada moves with him. His voice sounded very much in “sur” and definitely better than Vishal and Shekhar, but of course none can get the Kishore Kumar feel to this song. He then sang another Pancham number “Dekha Na Hai Re”, the crowd remained standing. He then sang “Are diwanon” from Don and “Rang Barse”, and one other number I can’t remember. He ended his spell with a bizarre Rhumba piece where he kept on doing “ooh”, “aah” on Rhumba beats played by the band (it sounded real this time). It was a bad experiment I think, and by this time the crowd had cooled off and took their seats.

Then came Madhuri and she looked absolutely gorgeous – as beautiful as ever. She danced to the original tracks of ek do tin, dhak dhak, choli ke peeche. The soundtracks of these songs sounded a bit unprepared for the high decibel large hall environment and frankly sounded very dated. Madhuri’s presence and dance more than compensated for this. The song of “Aaja Nachle” was a welcome break from the 90s tracks. The crowd was not as excited to see Madhuri as I thought they will.

The show went downhill from here. I think by now they had increased the volume and I could hear it cracking up. What followed was a “tribute to amitabh” with song and dance by each member of the team. More old songs were played at top volume.

Vishal and Shekhar reappeared and then went on with some of their recent tracks form Bachna Ai Haseeno and Om Shanti Om. Once again their singing was atrocious, the live orchestra (if at all it was live) was cacophonous, and the mixing was utterly mindless. These two guys single-handedly butchered what was left of the rest of the show. I feel bad for them because they seemed to show a lot of energy, sweating and all, and Vishal was even barking at the audience to standup. I also feel bad for the guys in front seats because I think some of them probably went deaf. I think I would have liked this part if I were badly drunk.

Then there was a section on each region of India with Priety finally dancing to “Bhumro” – I just love this song and she did well. Aish and Madhuri danced to Dola re Dola – by now the high volume was becoming unbearable. Then ritesh danced to “dekha jo tujhe yaar” – so called Marathi music which is actually stolen from some Arabic number by who else – Pritam Ji. By the end of this section, I couldn’t take the sound anymore and had to prepare to run off to protect myself and my family. I was also worried about the traffic. Amitabh Bachan reappeared after the boring recorded voice again grumbled his praises for 15 minutes. This time he did some film dialogs. I got the hell out of there when he was doing Silsila.

Overall, I think I enjoyed the first half of the show. Like Hindi movies, this show also needs some editing – 2.5 hrs will be optimal. It also desperately needs a good sound engineer. Just blasting the speakers with pre recorded music is not the kind of live show I was looking for. Only thing that looked live was the dance troupe and Vishal and Shekhar and to a lesser extent Madhuri.

Everybody else were just banking on their presence. These guys are not performing artists and it clearly shows – you go there to just see them. If you went there to see them perform, you will be disappointed. Vishal Shekhar were a complete letdown. Only live music that sounded good was the couple of songs that Amitabh did.

I had spent 30 bucks to see a Indian Ocean show last year and watched them lot closer in a lot smaller auditorium. And boy did they do good – their show was far memorable than this “Unforgettable” show! The only bollywood show I am waiting for now is a Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy show – hope they make it.