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Rahman’s musical balm for Chennai

It was a musical treat to all those fans that had waited for the big day with bated breath, participated in contests, stood in long queues and arriving at the venue post much anxiety. Photo: Noise and Grains

It was a musical treat to all those fans that had waited for the big day with bated breath, participated in contests, stood in long queues and arriving at the venue post much anxiety. Photo: Noise and Grains  

Srinivasa Ramanujam joins thousands of music-crazy Chennaiites as they groove to A.R. Rahman songs at the recent ‘Nenje Ezhu’ concert

The title couldn’t have been better. The concert was titled ‘Nenje Ezhu’, originally a song written for Tamil film Maryan, but could have well been reflective of the times Chennai underwent during the recent floods.

Music composer A.R.Rahman, who by his own admission has not performed much in his hometown, seemed to reserve all his energies for such rare occasions and got Chennaiites on their feet with his pulsating numbers at YMCA, Nandanam, on Saturday evening. It was a concert for a cause alright – the composer made it clear that it was like a slogan to cheer people and given them hope – but that wasn’t stopping him, or thousands of his fans, from having their share of fun, dancing and swaying to some foot-tapping numbers.

It was a musical treat to all those fans that had waited for the big day with bated breath, participated in contests, stood in long queues and arriving at the venue post much anxiety. But once in, all that was forgotten; all that they cared for was that one man on stage with microphone in hand.

Rahman might have gotten older – he turned 49 just a couple of weeks ago – but his songs from the 90s are an integral part of many Chennaiites’ childhood memories. Take ‘Mustafa Mustafa’, billed the ‘friendship anthem’, for instance. The popular ‘Oh Oh…’ catchphrase had the crowd swaying to it, their cellphone lights up in the air. Or the classical-based ‘Nila Kagirathu’ from Indira that had melody lovers go ‘ooh aah’ at every variation, every improvisation.

‘Nenje Ezhu’ was a musical mix of the composer’s works not just over the years but also across genres. Perhaps to do justice to them, singers from different backgrounds and experiences were roped in; if you had an accomplished Hariharan getting his fair share of attention with songs like ‘Kurukku Chiruthavale’ and ‘Vennilavae’, there was also youngsters like Haricharan and Sid Sriram getting the crowd on their feet, delivering ‘Uppu Karuvadu’ and ‘Yennodu Nee Irunthaal’ with panache.

Youngsters who tuned in to the composer’s tunes in recent years weren’t disappointed either; there was the fast-paced ‘Mersalayitten’, the sultry ‘Maiya Maiyaa’ and the melodic ‘Aye Sinamika’. Singer Sid Sriram (remember ‘Adiye’ from Kadal?) sprung a surprise on the unsuspecting audience by unleashing into ‘Thalli Pogathey’, his brand new song in the much-awaited Gautham Menon-Rahman offering Accham Enbathu Madamayada.

It was meant to be a pure Tamil concert, but Rahman made an exception by delivering an experimental version of ‘Dil Se’. Accompanied by a posse of talented musicians on stage, the song struck an instant chord with the audience.

The classical-inclined weren’t ignored either; there was the raga-based ‘Sowkiyamma’ on offer. The spirited, full-of-feel rendition of ‘Innum Konjam’ by Vijay Prakash and Shweta Mohan had their ears perked up as well. Folk lovers got more than what they would’ve expected, sampling songs like ‘Usilampatti’ and ‘Uppu Karuvaadu’.

‘Nenje Ezhu’ will also be presented in Coimbatore on January 23. The Hindu is the associate sponsor for the event. Part of the funds from the concert will go towards post-flood rehabilitation.

‘Let’s talk about love’

One of the highlights of the evening was the informal, fun setting of four accomplished singers – Srinivas, Karthik, Vijay Prakash and Haricharan – interacting with the Mozart of Madras, albeit musically. The song they chose was one forgotten melody Rahman fans dote on; ‘Pennalla Pennala’ from Uzhavan. The renditions were magical and a true throwback to his melodic magic in the 90s.

Making up for SPB

What can one do when a legendary singer like S.P.Balasubrahmanyam isn’t able to perform for a concert as scheduled? You get three young singers, and hope the audience will like the rendition for its fresh treatment.

SPB’s presence was missed at the ‘Nenje Ezhu’ evening, but the now-popular stars of film music made up by joining hands (or voices, should we say) for the superhit numbers. Those used to SPB’s energetic voice in numbers like ‘Oruvan Oruvan’ and ‘Ballelaka’ were in for a pleasant surprise as they saw Karthik, Benny Dayal and Haricharan dishing out special performance.

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Printable version | Aug 5, 2020 5:19:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Rahman%E2%80%99s-musical-balm-for-Chennai/article14003222.ece

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