Rahmaniacs rock the night


How long would you be gone if you were to step out of home for a concert? Twelve hours, if you had set out for the MARG's `Jai Ho' concert in aid of Shakti Foundation and A.R. Rahman Foundation on Sunday. Because, about 70,000 Rahmaniacs had decided to brave the journey that took them about 100 km out of the city - to MARG Swarnabhoomi - from where Rahman took them for an out-of-the-world experience over a span of three-and-ahalf hours.

A sea of people extended toover a kilometre from thestage to get a glimpse of theman who picked up a coupleof Oscars earlier this year.Even from the 5,000 rupeeticketsection, about 300metres away from the stage, itwas difficult to tell one singerfrom the other.

Rahman surfaced, perchedon a lift, around 7.25 p.m.with the haunting `Jaage Hai',much to the relief of thosewaiting, getting increasinglyrestless and gave them somethingto dance with `Khalbali,'without any histrionicshimself, dressed quite simplyin a full-sleeve black T-shirt,jeans and a blue shawl aroundhis neck.

Great start

With `Athiradi', the concertgot just the start it needed.Hariharan began `Kadhal Rojave'in Tamil with SadhnaSargam and switched to Hindihalf-way before a svelteTanvi came in brandishing amegaphone to croon the velvety`Yeh Dilli Hai MereYaar', with BlaaZe at his stylishbest and rapper ViviennePocha.

"Chennai, I can see you all,"said Rahman, standing on topof a crane as he launched into`Jiya Se Jiya' and tossed a fewcaps around for fans beforereturning to the stage. BlaaZereturned with more `Style',this time with a rap in English:"Everybody in the front,you got style. Everybody inthe back, you got style..."Choreographer of theshow, Harshal, and rapperLush rocked the show withtheir `Liquid Dance' beforeLush joined Shweta Panditfor `Chandralekha'. Shwetacontinued with `Ringa RingaRinga' as the crowd chanted,"We want Tamil". The chantingwas suspended with Rahman'senergetic `Dil Se', theworld-class visual graphics inthe background workingmagic.

"Now, for love songs," saidRahman, as he settled to playthe piano, starting with partof the score from "SlumdogMillionaire" and `Kahin To'before Hariharan joined himfor `Tamizha Tamizha'. Thecrowd rose on its feet andhundreds of flags fluttered asthe duo continued to do `Uyire'.Rashid Ali came on stagewith a guitar, wondering howmany Aditis there were in thecrowd, and launched into`Kabhi Kabhi Aditi'.Rahman dedicated `RehnaTu' to "a state of mind, of acceptingpeople as they are,unconditionally", and thesheer sincerity in his voicehad the audience spellbound.

The crowd was rewardedfor good behaviourwith `Chaiyya Chaiyya' asRaihana and Aslam came upwith the electrifying crowdpleaser.There was more excuseto dance when BlaaZereturned with Benny Dayalfor `Taxi Taxi'.

Neeti Mohan came up witha graceful `Maiyya Maiyya'before religious heads werecalled upon to give A.R. Rahmanholy water from Jerusalem,Mecca and the Ganges tosignify oneness. After thebreak, Rahman launched intoa percussion-intensive segment- a medley of `AzeemoShaan Shahenshah', `RukmaniRukmani' and `VeerapaandiKottaiyile', followed by arocking solo by Sivamani.Rahman changed his attirefor the Sufi segment as thestage bathed in green lightprovided the perfect settingfor `Khwaja Mere Khwaja'and `Arziyaan'. This was oneof the finest parts of theshow. Chitra entertainedthe crowd with `Kannalane'and `Jiya Jale', accompaniedby fire dancers.

And soon, Hariharancame back to sing `Ai HairatheAashiqui', and Suzannegave them `AiBachchu'. But, it was the last20 minutes that sent the audienceinto a state of euphoria- `Mustafa Mustafa'followed by BlaaZe's rap for`Humma Humma', the highoctane`Jai Ho' and `VandeMataram' for a finale.

There's nothing morebeautiful than hot air lampstaking off from the audience,a swaying crowd onits feet and fireworks in thesky. And, all those hoursspent in travelling and waitingjust didn't seem tomatter.

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