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Rahman's Unity of Light Concert
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31st March 2003
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Rahman's Unity of Light Concert: Unbelievable and Unforgettable

- Sreya Sunil

If you were to pick some of the most talented individuals India has ever produced, then you ought to pick this bundle of talent, with pride.

If you were to name a few personalities who have done India proud within and sometimes way beyond their creative capabilities, then you ought to mention this phenomenon who needs neither swords nor ammunition to conquer and captivate us.

If you were to ever speak about Indian music then you definitely should be talking at length about this music genius.

And that's Allah Rakha Rahman folks. Till date I have just felt his magic but on the 30th of March 2003, I saw this great musician cast his enriching spell on about 5000 people in Dallas, Texas. Rahman's Unity of Light concert was indeed a union of serenity, tranquility and harmony performing a catharsis of souls in such troubled times.

Greatness, I read somewhere, is an exaggeration. If that is so, is being godly just an imagination? What would you call somebody who is not only great but also godly? I would call him AR Rahman. Yes, that's what he is. Not only, is he a great musician but also a 'God' in his own sorts. Rahman's music is like a law of nature - a thing one cannot question, alter or implore.

Believe me, I started off writing this article just to share my experience of being an active, enthusiastic audience of Rahman's concert. But so far, I did exaggerate a little, didn't I? Well, I did make my point and reasons in doing so ;-). Hence no qualms!

Without the fear of sounding clichéd, I can say the concert was unbelievable and unforgettable. Very few things in life are either unbelievable or unforgettable. But watching Rahman perform live, was both unbelievable and unforgettable at the same time. I say so because each and every moment of the three hour long concert was an experience in itself. Each moment passing by, was not only spent devouring the soothing music, but also was spent in cherishing and assimilating the moment passed by and waiting for the coming moment. While excitement & enjoyment were the expected outcomes and fun & frolic the inherent elements, moments of sheer pleasure & absolute bliss were the added incentives of this concert.

The show started off with our very own SPB singing a popular and an instrumentally delightful number Oruvan Oruvan (Okade Okkadu) [Muthu] indirectly talking about the one and only Rahman. With such a perfect start, the maestro (who by the way truly deserves this honor after Ilayaraja) took us on a soul-stirring, mind-blowing ride with the voices of -

  • SP Balasubramanyam (who was singing his share of songs -Roja Janeman [Roja], Anjali Anjali [Duet] - in Telugu, Tamil and where applicable in Hindi),
  • HariHaran (who sang the soulful Tu Hi Re [Bombay] and passionate Hai Rama [Rangeela]),
  • Shankar Mahadevan (who literally stole the show with an awesome rendition of O Humdum [Saathiya], Hamma Hamma [Bombay] and Ghanan Ghanan [Lagaan]),
  • Udit Narayan (who took off with Ee Ajnabi [Dil Se] followed by his songs from Lagaan),
  • Sukhwindra Singh (who again was in his elements making the audience sway to his Chaiyya Chaiyya number [Dil Se]),
  • Sonu Nigam (who added a touch of romance with Satrangi Re [Dil Se], Saathiya [Saathiya] and patriotism with Mera Rang De [The Legend of Bhagat Singh]),
  • budding singer Karthik who sang O Humdum and Chupke Se [Saathiya] and was a part of the chorus for many songs.
  • Sadhana Sargam (who stole our hearts with Chupke se/Snehithuda [Saahitya] and also singing some songs from Lagaan),
  • Mahalaxmi Iyer (this paakhi paakhi pardesi girl sang Kahi Aag Lage [Taal] and many other songs with a sweet voice),
  • Vasundhara Das (who sang the Shakalaka Baby from Bombay Dreams),
  • Gopika Poornima (who did the alaap in Anjali Anjali [Duet]).

While all the singers displayed their prowess under the able guidance of the King of Indian music, his crew, which included the best of the best like Shivamani (drummer), Naveen (flute) and others on the guitar, violins etc. did exhibit their talents to the fullest amidst thunderous applause.

While people waited for the maestro to enthrall them with his voice, Rahman took off with Dil Se Re (which was sung straight from the heart), Sona (accompanied by Sukhwindra and taken from Bombay Dreams) and Vellai Pookal (a number from Kannathil Muthamital/Amrutha), which he sang for 'peace'. Needless to say, all his songs got a rousing reception.

The concert, apart from including popular numbers from films like Roja, Dil Se, Bombay, Saathiya, Lagaan, Taal, Rangeela etc., also had instrumentals like the theme from Bombay. Some songs from Rahman-Webber's musical Bombay Dreams, which hits the Broadway sometime next year, were also premiered.

The show concluded with Rahman's rendition of Maa Tujhe Salaam [from his album Vandemataram] followed by our National Anthem.

I am sure all those of you who have attended the concert in your respective cities agree with what I wrote here. For all the others, I urge you to be a part of this show, where the musical magician in Rahman, tricks and treats us with his pieces of art.

Click here to read other articles by Sreya Sunil.

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