Music and Lyrics

The Perfect AR Rahman Concert – Part I

Karthik coined this phrase – Rahman Realization Point – wherein you finally became one with the genius of A.R Rahman. The moment of truth when it would have struck you that here is someone special. Someone whose sound will transcend borders within and out of the world. It could have happened with the very first masterpiece – Roja – but those days kids my age were trying to learn the six times tables. So what we went through was as much as a Rahman Realization Point as it was a Music Realization Point.

I remember listening to Roja for hours on the tape recorder. A white colored cassette – if I remember correctly – was played over and over again, sitting on top of the showcase in the living room, while mom and dad were having their afternoon siesta. I remember learning to look at the inlay cards for details of the song and remarking to mom how great Hariharan’s voice sounded. The year was 1992 and that was the time I started listening to music. Not just A.R Rahman. Similar patterns followed with Uzhavan, Thiruda Thiruda, Gentleman, Pudhiya Mugam, Bombay and Rangeela. But the maturity to spot the Rahman Realization Point, didn’t quite happen, mainly because, I was not aware what kind of an era existed in music before Rahman. And then the exposure to Ilaiyaraja happened. Nadeem Shravan, Jatin Lalit, Anu Malik etc etc of the mid 90s. And then, on reevaluating, you reach the Rahman Realization Point.

I attended his Jai Ho concert last Sunday and it was quite a wonderful experience, listening to him live, despite the shoddy start and organization skills of MARG that left a lot to be desired. The suspense of “Guess the next song” was quite exciting and I decided to compile a list of songs that just cannot be missed in a  liveconcert. Not in any particular order though. Remember this is an ideal list. A lot of this really happening in future concerts depends on the singers available, the location of the concert, time etc. This is basically The Perfect A.R Rahman Concert that may never be possible. Part I goes here:

1. Oruvan Oruvan (Muthu):

The quintessential concert kick starter, that ruled all his concerts during his prime and when SPB was indispensable in them. Nowadays replaced by the second song in my list, I still feel, this is as perfect a start as it can get.

2. Jaage Hain (Guru):

Definitely not a bad start. I think both these songs can be used depending on the location of the concert. The first one works wonderfully in the south and this one gets everyone goose-bumpy right at the start on the other side of the Vindhyas.

3. Rang De Basanti (Rang De Basanti):

No other song will get your adrenaline rushing as much as this one does. With the unconventional combination of Daler Mehndi and Chitra, this song is a winner right from the start.

4. Usillampatti Penkutti (Gentleman):

Because, this was a time when Shahul Hameed’s voice was the best thing since sliced bread. Oh, how much we miss him!

5. Endrendrum Punnagai (Alaipayuthey):

An evergreen track from an evergreen album, the regular riffs notwithstanding, still emerges as a song that just has to be heard on stage.

6. Kya Kare Kya Na Kare (Rangeela):

And no one does it like Udit Narayan. And you’ve got to hear the lilting middle stanzas live with the moonlight upon you.

7. Nila Kaigirathu (Indra):

Well, Harini is a Goddess and I wonder why no one realizes it. I prefer this over Hariharan’s version. Period.

8. Chandralekha (Thiruda Thiruda):

Even if you leave out every other song in this list, I don’t think this one would ever suffer that fate. A song composed specially for  the stage, the original singer – Anupama – used to make an appearance just for this one. And past Sunday, Shweta Pandit performed the same with equal elan.

9. Yoon hi Chala (Swades):

If there ever was a song made for a road trip in the two lane highways of India, then this is it.

10. Chaiyya Chaiyya (Dil Se):

A song that made it to the soundtrack of a Hollywood heist flick, with lyrics inspired by Bulleh Shah and picturized on top of a train with two great dancers. This is the real thing.

11. Ruut Aa Gayi Re (1947 Earth):

It’s really really tough job to choose a track from one of the best albums from Rahman. And because we are talking about a live concert, this one wins it hands down.

12. O Saya (Slumdog Millionaire):

This one is a sure shot winner as soon as it starts. If only there was someone as talented as M.I.A to accompany Rahman on stage. But going by the way Tanvi, Shweta Pandit and Neeti Mohan performed on Sunday – brilliance – her shoes can easily be filled. Rahman’s proteges seem to be as special as himself.

13. Kappaleri Poyachu (Indian):

Oh that chorus! That drum roll! Shouldn’t it be seen to be believed?!

14. Ramta Jogi (Taal):

If you’re high, then there isn’t a better Rahman composition that compliments the feeling better. And Sukhwinder Singh proves why his absence  would be costly in any Rahman concert.

15. Azhagana Rakshasiye (Mudhalvan):

Because Reethi Gowla is as beautiful as it is ageless. And did I mention Harini is a Goddess?

So that’s Part I done. Let this sink in before we get to Part II.


30 thoughts on “The Perfect AR Rahman Concert – Part I

  1. I savored every line of this post just as I enjoyed listening to all the songs you’d listed. Loved your take on ’em..Very brief with punches.

    Have to mention the one on Kya kare under the moonlight…loved the very thought of doing that.

    And…Reethi-Gowlai. Aiyo aiyo aiyo. What a beauty. I used to think if RG were a woman, she’d be the most beautiful woman in the world. (along with Amrithavarshini and Lathangi but I am digressing)
    IMHO think she is the REAL Goddess
    But yes, I think I ve already mentioned that? ;)

    Adi: Yes, I quite agree! Lathangi? Hmmm, we’ll talk!


  2. Great List Adi. I liked how you mixed his Hindi and Tam numbers. I wonder why “Veera Pandi Kotayile” was’nt there!

    Adi: I think it should appear in part 2!Hmm, yeah it should!


  3. I never cared for Tamil Music before Rahman’s “Roja,” and “Bombay” made me a fan not just of his stuff, but Indian music in general. Though I am not a big fan of attending concerts for the sake of music, I felt like I missed out on a good concert after seeing all the tweets!

    Adi: It was a decent concert and everyone had fun. But it could have been loads better.


  4. Good stuff.

    He’s a genius, no doubt. I loved the songs in Roja, although I didn’t understand Tamil. Gentleman had great songs too. And I had a tape-recorder as well. But the cassette-holder on it was broken. So, every time, I’d rewind and stop, the cassette would fly at me like a missile.

    Chandralekha from Thiruda Thiruda is one of my favorite Rahman songs. Not just for it’s music, of course.

    Adi: Thiruda Thiruda would appear in my top 5 list of all time!


  5. good list…i concur with all your options…my two cents worth..will def add a song (any song) from kandukondain kandukondain….i sometimes argue that that film is his best work….a song from minsaara kanavu…either strawberry penne or venilla vae…and one of my all time fav songs…swaasamae from thenali..which incidentally features as a soundtrack on the movie the accidental husband…starring uma thurman, colin firth and the guy who played denny on grey’s! :0
    oooh..just realised i can go on and on…will stop :)

    Adi: Yes, Kandukondain music had a very classical touch to it. I should include one from there in part 2!


  6. I’m so J that you got to attend this concert!!
    Will die to attend one..given I am in that place at that point in time and can make it!
    felt nostalgic – in remembering that white cassette of Roja..which eventually my parents had to get two..since my sis n me used to fight over it for our respective walkmans! :)

    But that is one superb list of songs…very cool!

    Rahman….the genius!

    Nice post!


    Adi: Hehe, I am sure he’ll make another US trip. Weren’t the Unity of Light concerts a huge success? Jai Ho concert is coming everywhere I believe.


  7. you prefer the harini version to hariharan?

    wo my gaad ganesha, you are asking for trouble! Nila kagirathu was made for a purpose and there is no other person than hariharan..

    aw shucks, its demeaning to even argue on that, die die die…

    Adi: Hahaha, offended you, have I!? Hariharan is my favorite too but this song, Harini steals!


  8. Nice list!

    I know this is your fantasy list, but Rahman’s concerts leave me bitter in some way or the other. Mebbe it is the expectations, but I think my expectations are hardly unreasonable.

    In any case, this is what I think. Singers maketh the on-stage concert! And some of these songs cannot be replicated on stage, solely because of the singers in question.

    For example, I’ve been on three Rahman concerts so far – Ypsilanti in ’03, Long Island ’07 and now this one in ’09. And in all three, a song that I consider one of his best (if not the No.1) songs – Chaiyya Chaiyya – was mangled. Twice it was because of Sukhwinder himself. I was glad when I found that he was not going to be performing with Rahman during the Oscars. The man, I am sorry to say, cannot sing on stage. Chaiyya Chaiyya song should be his signature ARR number (just like SPB and Oruvan Oruvan) but sadly he let me down on both occasions. So much that when the song starts on stage, I start to cringe in the audience.

    In contrast, Sonu Nigam is the king. He rocked Ypsilanti with Sarfarosh Ki Tamanna (TLOBS) and Kismat Se Tum (Pukar). I hoped he’d be here to sing Behka. :(

    And mebbe I am missing something here regarding the arrangements/orchestration, but I think Hariharan gets misused a lot. There are hazaar ARR songs (Dheemi Dheemi for e.g.) that he can rock, but I don’t know. If his “improvisations” are what we need to hear on stage, trust me, Hai Rama should do.

    In any case, I will stop here. *sigh* Mebbe I should revisit my “Underrated gems of ARR” post again.

    Adi: You sure have the experience of attending so many concerts for your analysis. I’ve heard Sukhwinder only once on stage and he was pretty decent in it and it was during the height of Chaiyya Chaiyya’s popularity. But I agree Sonu Nigam rocks on stage. And maybe as fans, we just have huge expectations.


  9. I had a feel you would go and attend this concert!!
    There are so many hit songs and i wonder how they choose what to play for the crowd.

    Nice one to share the list of songs they played.

    I think the change he has brought to Indian Film Music will be remembered for years.

    Harini is a very talented singer, no doubt.
    I think some day Shreya goshal will become a goddess..if not she is already in hindi
    .. Did she come?|

    Waiting for your part!!

    Adi: Thanks, but this is a fantasy list. Not the songs that were played in this concert!


  10. Hey Adi,

    I was there at the concert too and loved every minute of it! Ofcourse, apart from the glitches, which faded into oblivion when he started singing :) There were a lotta complaints that the songs were mostly hindi and yea, i did agree, not that i complained cuz i loved all the songs he performed anyway. You know what though? Your list up there is probably EXACTLY what i would’ve given – especially on the start – I actually was sooo sure he would start with oruvan oruvan but when it was khalbali, i was a lil shocked that he’d start a concert in chennai with a hindi song!

    But, like max, i’d say i like the hariharan version of nila kaigiradhu better than harini’s – anyday. I can listen to it on loop forever :)

    And his brigade of young singers – WOW! i dint get most of their names but i was in AWE…they r sooooooo good! You dont know what kind of a complex i have that i cant sing well :(

    That sufi bit in between made me go into a trance almost – it was just so beatifully surreal…

    Overall a great, great experience. I was just singing (= screaming) away to glory with my friends and we were hi-fiving for every song! My best time till date and definitely one i’d remember forever and ever :)

    Adi: Ah damn, we should have met! The young singers were quite impressive, yeah!


  11. loved your line about Reethi Gowla. :) Though ARR is doubtlessly talented, for quite a few reasons, I prefer Illayaraja and Viswanathan- Ramamurthy’s works.

    Adi: Hmm, you must write about it!


  12. Was at the concert too. Darned that video-mixing guy who just couldn’t telecast the other camera angles (hence we could hardly figure out how awesome the stage was) on those large screens for the benefit of the far-seated (it seems even Rs. 1000 tickets have no value).
    Loved the list. Agree completely on oruvan oruvan mudalali! SPB is fabulous!

    Adi: Thanks!


  13. ‘Rahman Realisation Point’ – Phenomenal concept. It’s probably happened to each one of us interested in any form of Indian film music. That critical point definitely did happen.

    Very carefully selected and thought out play list to be played at a concert. Harini just blows one out – Absolutely true. I stared at your enviable list today thinking if I have to alter your list a bit – which ones would it be – Somewhere, I feel, Suttum Vizhi from Kandukonden would feature – Ramta jogi would be replaced by Nahin Saamne and blame it on my Hariharan bias, Nila Kaigurathu would be his version :)

    I understand, it’s your list but I was too tempted to put it across. Good post macchi.

    Adi: Oh, I love Nahin Samne more but since this is live and all that, I chose Ramta Jogi. But the former definitely sits high in my rankings.


  14. Somehow I cant stand Sukhvinder’s singing style. He always manages to sound like his nuts are in the grips of a aprticularly vicious crab claws. Otherwise, loved the playlist. Rahman is one of the few contemporary geniuses. Vishwanathan Anand, Sachin Tendulkar,… who else can you think of?

    Adi: Lol, actually that’s all I can think of too. Geniuses is the right word!


  15. The last ARR concert I attended two years ago (in Atlanta) started with the second song in your list (Jaage Hai). And the one before that (in Michigan, in or around 2002) started with Anupama singing Rangeela theme.

    I like the idea of starting the concert with an instrumental piece, followed by a song rendered by the maestro himself.

    I think group songs (like Ghanana Ghanana from Lagaan) sound pretty good in live concert as well.

    And yes, I second Naren’s point about Sukhvinder. I would rather do without him.

    Adi: Yeah, Jaage Hain has now permanently replaced Oruvan Oruvan as the kick starter.


  16. Super, I just listened in order :) A lot of these are very typical AR show songs, brought back some fun memories.

    I am looking forward to another evening of entertainment when Part 2 comes out


  17. I guess the vande mataram/malarodu will come in part 2. That is always a sight to watch with all the cell phones as cheesy as that sounds:)

    From the one concert I attended here, Sukhwinder’s chaiiya was good even though he stretches for a good 15 minutes. Hariharan’s indulgences arent.

    Btw, if you are wishing for Shahul, wouldnt you wish the rasathi song(one slow song should be ok:)).


  18. Lovely list! I still remember my first Rahman concert and literally running from the parking lot to the grounds to the drum roll from Oruvan oruvan..And I totally agree with you about Harini :D


  19. I agree with max on the song from indira…hariharan was soooooo much better. Anyways, to eaach his own :)

    Lovely post. My fav track from guru was tere bina. Nothing can beat that i think. But simply super list :) I’ll be bugging you over the next few days asking for some songs…


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