‘Sonu Nigam Live in Concert’ was as much about the music as it was about the laughs
Full of verve — that’s a good way to describe Sonu Nigam’s concert last weekend at Wesley Grounds. The evening began with Teesha Nigam bringing some widely popular new songs to life. ‘Aaj ki raat’ from Don, ‘Aiyvain aiyvain’ from Band Baaja Baraat and ‘Tumhi ho bandhu’ from Cocktail in particular were good, with the orchestra recreating the feel of the original score in a near perfect manner. Then came the star of the evening. Sonu, who it was later announced was unwell and couldn’t sing a few hours ahead of the show, didn’t just perform, but entertained the audience for well over two-and-half hours with his music, dance and even some original stand-up comedy.
He started with the slow ‘Shukhran Allah’ (from Kurbaan) and then came, ‘Ajeeb ittefaq hai’ that was rendered with trademark perfection. That was expected of the man the audience has watched since his days as the host of the popular reality show Sa Re Ga Ma.
But what came as a pleasant surprise was Sonu’s stage presence and cheeky sense of humour as he enacted how fans from different parts of the country react when they run into him in public places. “South Indians are the best!” he said as the audience applauded in glee, “They politely come up and say, ‘Hello saar, I am fan saar! Heard you many times. Want to take one photo.” Of all the things people ask him, the most frequent question he’s had to answer is how music gets made.
So he decided to demonstrate to this audience how it was done. Choosing, after a lot of consultation with the audience, aloo, gobi, bhaingan and matar paneer as his lyrics Sonu and his orchestra stunned the audience with their rendition of these words in different composing styles – Anu Malik, Bappida, A.R. Rahman and finally new-age music a la Shankar Ehsaan Loy and Amit Trivedi.
After this came a riveting medley of Sonu’s popular songs. From ‘Mahi ve’ to ‘Bole choodiyan’ and ‘Hasti rahe’ to ‘Saathiya’. After reciting the profound lyrics of his immensely popular ‘Just Chill Chill’ (Soniya dil se mila dil, just chill chill, just chill — for the uninitiated), as if he were reciting a ‘sher’ Sonu went on to croon the fast number, every note in its perfect place.
But what is a Sonu Nigam concert without a few Rafi numbers? A quick medley of ‘Mera man tera’, ‘Aaja aaja mein hoon pyar tera’ followed.
When Sonu sang ‘Sandese aate hain’ from Border, it was as if time had stood still for 15 years; his voice unchanged, reproducing every small detail from the song that had become an anthem of sorts, back in 1997, Sonu sent the audience on a nostalgic journey indeed. Then came the quintessential Shah Rukh Khan-Sonu Nigam songs from the 1990s – ‘Yeh dil deewana’ from Pardes and ‘Satrangi’ from Dil Se. Besides moon-walking a la Michael Jackson, Sonu also treated the audience to some interesting trivia.
He announced that actor Khusbhoo who was seated in the front row, was a childhood friend who used to take care of him when he was young. When Khushboo asked for ‘Ab mujhe raat din’, Sonu obliged.
Supported by a great team of accompanists, he wrapped up the evening on a high note with ‘All is well’ and ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’. Introducing newer interpretations, keeping the audience engaged, obliging their requests and constantly announcing his surprise at how great an audience it was, Sonu was a rockstar who won Chennai over.