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.