Archive for the 'reviews' Category


A R Rehman’s CWG Song Debacle

There’s a big outcry over Rehman’s composition for CWG. My take: the song is decent, with some good parts and the hook of the song might just catch on. Lyrics is not great. But what I am not able to figure out is why on earth did he charge 5cr for the song? I tried to read up and see if it is really true..but nobody is clarifying why any sane person will charge that much for one song for a event of national pride. May be it was a combo deal because he also apparently composed another song for 6 classical dancers doing a grand dance theme, but too bad those guys rejected the song too! And now there is news that Rehman has refused to re-do the tune because he doesn’t have time (he is touring US).

At the same time a whole bunch of bands -Parikrama, SEL, Kailash etc. have signed up to perform live for lot less than they usually charge for their shows.

Well  being a SEL fan, I can’t help but say SEL – Gulzar could have done a great job. Rahman’s singing is no match for Shankar’s powerful vocals.  At least they could have got Gulzar to write the song.

Unfortunately the whole thing just ends up reflecting rather bad on Rehman – A greedy MD who charged obscene money and took half a year to compose a dud, and is not ready to change it either! Well I hope someone clarifies this and also hope that like his other songs, this one will eventually catch on.


Shankar Ehsaan Loy Rock New Jersey

Me and my wife go to all sort of concerts – small or large, desi or pardesi. This was one of the best we have seen so far. And I don’t think any desi concert can even come close to this one. It was simply mind-blowing. The iZod center engineers have to re-evaluate it’s structure tomorrow because SEL nearly brought it down!

Guys if you haven’t bought the tickets for one of the future shows, you got to get it. You will never forget this show. Shankar Mahadevan knows how to do a show. From the moment he entered, the crowd just went wild and it just got better and better and better. Add to this the sheer power belted out from Ehsaan’s guitar and the mesmerizing jazz droplets from Loy’s keyboard and you get pure magic. Together they make the very best performers of India.

Well I will not break the suspense for you by listing all the songs they played here, but they played all their hits – Pretty Woman, Maa, Kajrare, Kal Ho Na Ho, Rock On – they were all there and sung flawlessly by Shankar. Watching shankar sing is like watching Tendulkar when he is in full form. Each and every person in the audience was dancing and swooning to their songs. The  whole band came together really well. In addition to SEL,  here were two drummers, one dhol player, one congo player, bassist, a keyboardist and I think a backup guitarist. Shankar’s introduction of his team was a feat to watch in itself. Raman Mahadevan and Mahalaxmi Iyer sang a couple of songs really nice. Mahalaxmi sang Aaaj Ki Raat from Don (Also featured in Slumdog Millionaire). It was a pleasure to watch all of them doing a beautiful chorus for the song Rock and Roll Soniye – the blues overtones by both Loy and Ehsaan for this song were so pleasing.

The show ran like a finely oiled machine – no glitches. No mic volume issue. No mixing issues. Very well mixed and controlled. There was just a large screen in the center with some graphics. No dancers or any other distractions. Just pure exhilarating music filling up the entire space.

Richa Sharma’s section was rather week or should I say  disaster. I recommend the organizers to cut it to 1/4th or maybe eliminate it altogether. Her efforts to woo the public were sad and pathetic.

Shafqat Amanat Ali sang his songs and he was in top form. Khamaj, Yaman, Dum a Dum Mast Qalandar – it was all there. His band played very well and the extended solos played by his guitarist was terrific.

I actually feel very sad for all those people who went to see A R Rahman show hoping to hear songs from Rock On, Dil Chahta Hai, KANK,  Kal Ho Na Ho and Bunty Aur Babli ;-).

Overall, this is simply the best Indian performance I have seen. I would love to see SEL come back again in a couple of years and wish them all the best for the rest of the tour.


Review of A R Rahman show in Atlantic city

A R Rahman takes his shows to a different level. You could tell that the attempt here was to create a cirque de soleil show with Rahman’s music in the background. If you have seen the Beatles Love show you will know what I mean. Gone are the days of S P sir, kavita madam, uditji. No Chitra. No Sukhwinder. Heck no Sivamani either (this was hardest for me to digest). All the notable people above have been replaced by good looking female singers, rappers, funky guitarists and drummers. And lots of dancers from around the world. Rahman now is part of the act – no more standing in the center with a couple of keyboards, he moved around the stage with the other dancers, wore dark glasses, and used a hand keyboard at times.

I think the show worked really hard to show Indian culture thru Rahman’s modern music. Rahman tries to be what Ravi Shankar was in the 60s and 70s.  This explains why the song selection featured such Rahman gems (sarcasm) as ring ring ringa, some reggae song I have never heard before, a song in English, Bombay theme, theme music from slumdog, and hope your breath – bade ghulam Ali Khan’s thumri yaad piya ki aaye. The only problem is that the audience was predominantly Indian.

The show started out with a song I have never heard before, followed by one of the best performances of the night – rang de basanti. The pace then gradually slowed down to a grinding halt in what was Indian classical section. IMHO the classical.section was verging on being a parody. Then the pace recovered through a religious section. Rahman sang khwaja mere khwaja – his best performance of the night. Dil se was next and finally the show ended with a high note with songs like humma humma and Jai Ho.

Musicians consisted of two drummers, one keyboardist, flute player, Couple of guitarists, dhol player, tabla player, a firang violinist  and a MAC hidden somewhere 🙂 none of these guys got a chance to show their act solo except the flute player and violinist. They were not introduced either.

I was hoping Rahman would play the piano taking a cue from what he did in Karan johar show. He did play the piano – once he started a classical like tune that followed with some good comping. Second time he played a couple of chords and then uncomfortably got up with his Mic and started walking and singing. I am not sure whether it is because he doesn’t have great piano chops or if he thinks most people would like to see Shammi Kapur style piano performance. I was pretty impressed by his harmonium skills though.

Sound engineering was terrible. They missed some sounds during solo dhol. Rahman’s alaap in Dil Se got chopped off. Once again his Bande Maataram alaap got chopped off. Some harmonium sounds got muted. The lead guitar mixing was awful. For a pricey show like this, these goof ups are unacceptable.

I loved the stage work. There was a transparent screen right in front of the stage for some 3-D type effect. They showed a kid biking to the sky (ET style) and A R Rahman running through his history (39 steps style) using this screen. This screen also showed some really emotional images of Gandhi and other freedom fighters while Hariharan sang “Bharat Humko Jaan se Pyaara Hai”.  There also was a screen in the back of the stage. The images shown on this screen had terrific vibrant colors and some great photography. Overall, I loved the art work here.

Overall Rahman put together a decent show. Was it paisa wasool? probably not. I wish the song selection was better and there were better singers.  But I can tell how much of hard work and thinking must have gone into the show. Now eagerly waiting for the SEL show in July 🙂