Since 1989, MTV Unplugged has showcased popular musicians and their work in an acoustic setting. The original US version spawned many spin-offs, including MTV India Unplugged in 2011, which featured acoustic sets from some of India’s most beloved singers.
MTV India Unplugged Live brings to Dubai audiences on Friday two artists featured in the show’s first two seasons – the Pakistani powerhouse Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan and the Indian songstress Shilpa Rao. The duo will be performing their biggest hits in a fully acoustic set up in what is the first show of its kind in the Middle East.
What to expect
Season 1 of MTV India Unplugged kicked off in October 2011 and went on to feature names such as Rabbi Shergill, Mohit Chauhan, Rekha Bhardwaj and the band Euphoria. Rao appeared on the sixth episode, where she performed her songs Nain Parindey, Javeda Zindagi (featuring Keerthi Sagathia), Mudi Mudi, Dhol Yaara Dhol and I Feel Good.
The show’s second season, which was broadcast only in November, featured A R Rahman, Sunidhi Chauhan and Lucky Ali. Appearing on the second episode, Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan performed Aankhon Ke Saagar, Yeh Hausla, Aavo Saiyon, Manmaaniyan, Mora Saiyaan and Kyun Main Jaagoon.
While the singers might reprise some of these numbers on Friday, expect some of the more popular songs from their Bollywood repertoire, as well as a few lesser-known solo numbers.
The back story
Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan emerged on the map of the musical world as the lead singer of the band Fuzön in 2001, and shot to fame with his songs Aankhon Ke Saagar, Khamaj and Ankhiyan. It was Shankar Mahadevan who brought Ali Khan into Bollywood, after having heard Aankhon Ke Saagar on the radio.
Ali Khan went on to sing Mitwa for the 2006 film Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna and became an overnight sensation in Bollywood. His performance of Dildara for the film Ra.One won him a Filmfare Award nomination for Best Male Playback Singer last year. He has also appeared on the Pakistani and Indian editions of Coke Studio.
The 28-year-old Rao studied under Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan, who mentored the playback singer Hariharan. Rao started her singing career with commercial jingles. Just as in Ali Khan’s case, Mahadevan can also be credited with her move to Bollywood – he urged her to move to and work in Mumbai after they performed at a concert together.
In 2006, she sang Tosey Naina Lagey for the film Anwar and Saiyaan Re for Salaam-e-Ishq: A Tribute to Love. She hasn’t looked back since.
MTV India Unplugged Live will be held on Friday at the Safina Ballroom at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai. Doors open at 7pm, the concert starts at 9pm. Children below 12 years of age are not allowed. Tickets cost from Dh150. Book at www.timeouttickets.com or call 04 339 3179