Monday, September 13, 2010

and just like that 'Jai Ho' became his signature tune!

AR Rahman performed here in the bay area on Sunday.

The show featured some spectacular 3D projection lighting and sometimes good but mostly mediocre choreography. They used thematically related 3D projections both to enhance the ambiance as well as compensate for the terrible lack of a stage presence and performance of AR Rahman. The man stands on the stage like scarecrow figure. The song 'Pappu cant dance saala' is a very good self caricature!

No Sukhwinder Singh, No Naresh Iyer, No Sapna Awasthi, No Vijay Prakash, No Shreya Ghosal. So you can imagine the quality of vocals in a Rahman concert. The only star singers were Hariharan and Rahman himself whose voice wore off considerably. The equalizer settings were pretty lousy and we could hardly ever listen to whatever little he spoke.

The selection of songs ranged from the newest Endhiran, Couples Retreat, Slumdog, Rang De Basanti and went back as far as Premikudu from 1994. (No Roja!)

Luka Chuppi from Rang De Basanti had a guest appearance from a pre-recorded 3D projection of Lata singing on stage. It felt a little surreal given the context of the song in the movie and she playing luka chuppi on the stage. Mehendi hai Rachne Vaali from Zubeida had some excellent companion 3D projection as well.

Blaaze was the dancer performer for most part. Hariharan came on stage looking almost like a gypsy or more so like a baul singer from Bengal. Super star Krishna is marginally better than Rahman when it comes to onscreen/onstage presence. Enough said.

They did something interesting towards the end of the concert with a Doordarshan style 'Sammelan', where Rahman sat down with a Harmonium and other singers chimed in. This makes me think that a prolific composer like Rahman could also try alternate forms of concert like having an Anthyakashari with only Rahman songs. The concert also featured interesting jugalbandi vignettes with violinist Christine Wu and his flautist Naveen.

He ended the concert with the obligatory Jai Ho and Maa Tujhe Salaam.

The venue selection for bay area was bad as it hardly allowed any room to stand up and sway to the music. So to sum up - the concert was okay. (Although being there with Swetha made it totally worthy to me. She's never been to a Rahman concert before.)

All through the concert, one thought was constant on my mind -- Professional future reviewers, critics and historians will have an extremely tough time trying to summarize Rahman's career and may be try to come up with top ten/fifty of his compositions.

Good luck with that! Glad, I dont have to do it for a living.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Vedam - a review

The movie has a pretty cliched start with a song from which a couple of lines stand out and set out to be the theme of the movie, I guess. 

Nindu noorella paatu prati roju edo lotu
ade madilo repuki chotu

The movie tries to conflate five short stories, all of them with different degrees of unrest in their lives. The director takes a good 45-60 min to get to the unrest and eventually gets to the bigger point of the movie -- how are heroes made out of ordinary people.

At least one of the stories (featuring Anushka)  is totally tangential and exists merely for masala purposes. Some feel a little contrived. But the story about an abysmally poor family from Telangana is extremely poignant with some very good performances. (If you are getting a teeny bit political here -- such poverty is pretty evenly distributed in the state, so put your case to rest, if that is all you have to say).

But the movie wraps up pretty even headedly making a few heroes out of these stories. None too macho, none too idealistic, all too human.

So to sum up in Jeevi style - First half is okay. Second half is good. Allu Arjun movies are always entertaining.