Archive Page 2


Asheem Chakravarty

I am really ashamed that I read the news only recently.  It is a great loss for Indian music lovers. I can never forget the first time I heard an Indian Ocean album. I picked up this cassette from a rusty little corner in a Oak tree road store with little expectations.  Once I played it on my car stereo, I just got zapped. The fabulous rythm pumped by Asheem’s tabla interspersed with beautiful unique style of Sushmit’s guitar playing was magic. I kept listening to the cassette for a few years till it got worn out. I got inspired to learn tabla after hearing Asheem.

I saw them in concert twice – once in a large hall and second time in much smaller BBKing bar. Amazing performance. It was here that I noticed Asheem’s contribution to the band more closely. For the first time I saw someone playing tabla and singing at the same time. Mostly it is Rahul doing the singing, but then there were those special Asheem parts in their songs. His powerful voice and singing was unique. In the large hall concert, his mic stopped working and he still filled up the hall with his voice without the mic! Such was the might in his singing.

It is really hard to imagine an Indian Ocean concert without Asheem sitting on the right side with his drum assortment. He was the founding member of the band along with Ashmit. I can’t imagine how much his band will be missing him now, and really accolade their decision to move on and continue doing shows. Indian Ocean is the oldest Indian rock band and I am happy to see the saga continue. I wish them all the best and hope to catch them when they are in NYC.

We will miss you Asheem. RIP.


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.


Some thoughts on upcoming shankar ehsaan loy concert

I am really excited by the upcoming concert in nj. I think it is going to be great. I have been watching some of their live stuff on YouTube and have a few requests to make.
1. Shankar please reduce your interaction with the crowd. Interaction involves the audience but I think you are taking it a bit far. Your constant interruptions sometimes gets screechy and annoying.
2. Let ehsaan play one or two extended solo interlude. Let lot play a jazz interlude.
3. Please check the sound in the farther sections of the auditorium too. For some reason the sound in Indian shows don’t cover the entire auditorium well. Lots of howling was there in a r Rahman concert too.
4. Please dont try to make the show extra grand. Play your songs well and I bet that’s going to please everyone. Hopefully those dancers you have hired will not be too much of a distraction. And I hope there are no announcers. Don’t know why all the shows in us must have dancers.

5. Lastly please record at least one show. You have at least one buyer of the dvd

Well that’s all and wish you all the best. I will be in the izod center show.


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 🙂


My thoughts on 2009 Filmfare awards

Watching a Bollywood award show now feels as if I am peeking into the Shaadi ceremony of some star. Bollywood stars and their betas, betis, bhanjas, bhanjis, potas and potis were everywhere. The show hosting was started by Yash Johar ka beta then followed by Aaamir ka bhanja and Rishi Kapur ka beta. Lady hosts were Prakash Padukone ki beti and Aparna Sen Ki beti. There were performances by Javed Akhtar ka Beta, Pankaj Kapur ka beta, Mukesh ka pota and Amitabh Bacchan ka beta. The next group of people were beauty pageant winners and models. Is there any hope for an actor in this Bollywood? Self-made individuals are now limited to  being musicians, singers, cinematographer, editors, writers and technicians – And the star sons are taking all the work these talented guys are doing  and making it look like their own. These guys make peanuts compared to the star sons. With all this going on, It was a such a great moment to see Om Puri come in and talk about his experience in Film Institute. And A R Rahman’s ever humble appearance.

The lack of any special effects was also noticeable. So was “Manikchand Gutka’s” sponsorship (thanks).

One especially touching moment for me was when Sukhwinder said “Please give me an opportunity to perform”. To this, this obnoxious asshole Yash Johar ka beta said “Even I wants to perform”. This is just so offending..I don’t know who gave him a chance to be the host of the show. Sukhwinder is one of the best performers our country has..just check out his videos in Youtube. His singing is unparelleled; his shows are a powerhouse of great music and singing. I think the show would be a lot better with performance form Sukwinder than all the babes dancing in mini-skirts to pre-recorded house tunes.


Live performance not cool for A R Rahman

Please don’t get me wrong – I am very proud of Rehman’s Oscar wins and really love his songs. But A R Rehman as a performer – sorry I think he should stop. Rehman is an incredibly talented composer, but I think he is at his best in his studio with his keyboards and software sequencers. Notice his performance in Jay Leno – He is just standing there with a keyboard (probably a Korg Oasys), if you look at his hands he is really not doing much – he is probably triggering some pre-recorded arpeggios and sequences. Typically a keyboardist sits in such a way that the keyboard is almost orthogonal to the stage, so that the camera can capture the performer’s finger in action. Rehman’s keyboard is almost positioned to strategically hide his fingers. Then there are 2 people behind with huge blue colored drums. And then there are a couple of guys in the right corner with a guitar and maybe banjo. They start by playing a boring tune and humming to it for a few minutes and then suddenly Rehman gives up whatever he was doing and jumps into Jai Ho mode. Now c’mon there is no way the assortment of instruments there can produce the sound that comes out! Of course, by this time a dance troupe jumps on stage to distract and hide the lip-syncing that follows. Rehman surely was singing, but mostly he was crooning “Jai Ho” to a pre-recorded track, but  the hook of the track which is played everywhere  – high pitched Jai Ho with heavy echo effect remains just that – pre recorded track. His performance in Oscar’s was no different.

Although lip syncing and dancing to pre-recorded stuff is a norm in India and noone really seems to care. But in the west, people have different expectations from a live performance. It is an opportunity for fans to see their favorite songs played by live musicians in action – not live dancers in action dancing to the CD played on powerful speakers. Remember Ashlee Simpson fiasco in SNL? The oscar nomination does open opportunites for Rahman, but really I think he should stay off  live performances and focus on his composing chops.


Rahman, Gulzar and Pokutty win Oscar

Kudos to Slumdog Millionaire for making such a wonderful movie and bringing in such accolades for some of the best Indian talent. Somehow the media all around forgot to mention Gulzar as one of the winners and I think Rahman should have mentioned him too (but he was probably too nervous and forgot). Congratulations!