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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 June 2018

A R Rahman Live proves to be an unforgettable evening

Also performing on the stage was an ensemble of popular singers including Neeti Mohan, Benny Dayal, Javed Ali, Harshdeep Kaur, Haricharan, Jonita Gandhi and Armaan Malik

AR Rahman. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
AR Rahman. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

The 'Mozart of Madras' put on an unforgettable show on Friday night.

Titled The Journey – Celebrating Music, A R Rahman Live, the evening was a celebration of the maestro completing 25 years in the global music industry.

The wait for the concert to start was a long one, especially since the night was cold, but one look at Rahman on the stage in an all-black outfit and a sparkling silver jacket mixing his most popular tunes, set to laser lights and psychedelic graphics, all was forgotten.

Also performing on the stage was an ensemble of popular singers including Neeti Mohan, Benny Dayal, Javed Ali, Harshdeep Kaur, Haricharan, Jonita Gandhi and Armaan Malik.

Mohan was absolutely sensational in her rendition of the sensual Tamil number Chandralekha and injecting energy in the popular dance track Muqabla, before joining Gandhi for Chhoti Si Asha. She seemed most comfortable performing songs with higher notes and tempo, as she also did total justice to Chali Re, Mayya Mayya, Tanha Tanha, and Rangeela Re – which was her best performance of the night. Jonita Gandhi was a bit disappointing, even though she did fare well on songs such as Choti Si Asha, Tu Hi Re from the upcoming film and 2.0, Tu Bin Bataye and Kehna Hi Kya, her off-key rendition of Agar Tum Saath Ho was jarring.

Among the men, Benny Dayal impressed with Muqabla, Kaisi Mujhe Tum Mil Gayi and others, while Harishcharan stood out with his rendition of Humdum Soniyo Re. The biggest disappointment was Armaan Malik, given that he was one of the bigger stars of the show after Rahman, and his performances of Satrangi Re and Bin Tere felt flat. Javed Ali, who has carved a niche for himself in the sufi genre, gave a superb performance in the sufi segment alongside Rahman, that featured hits including Arziyan, Maula, Kun Faya Kun and Khwaja Mere Khwaja.

As the night wore on, the night got foggy, misty and cold, and was the perfect setting for the little throwback segment, which in Rahman’s own words featured “songs that you listened on the radio – when you fell in love, or when something good or bad happened – these songs take you through those memories,” he said.

Snippets of his most memorable hits – Tu Bin Bataye, Kehna Hi Kya, Ae Ajnabi, Jiya Jale, Aawara Bahwrein and Ghanan Ghannan, among others, found their place in this part of the evening, when the visibility was low, but alit with torchlights from hundreds in the audience singing along, made it truly magical.

Rahman, once again, proved that he doesn’t need to engage in banter or opt for any gimmicks on stage to make an evening memorable. He let his music do the talking, occasionally taking the mic himself for soulful renditions of Mustafa Mustafa, Humma Humma, Urvashi (for which he blended the Hindi and Tamil versions seamlessly), Patakha Guddi and Dil Se.

He thanked his fans “for warming us” at the end of the evening, but the feeling was mutual – when even the wet chairs, freezing temperatures and dense fog couldn’t dampen this memorable, standout evening.

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Read more:

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AR Rahman on fame, fireworks and philanthropy

Dev Patel on life after Lion, his Indian accent, and becoming tabloid fodder

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