Farhan Akhtar took to the stage only after midnight but it was a case of saving the best for last.
At Dubai Music Week’s Bollywood Night concert on Saturday, the actor, filmmaker and singer Farhan Akhtar rocked the Dubai World Trade Centre Arena in an explosive performance supported by the powerhouse Pritam and a troupe of singers and musicians, rounding off the city’s biggest celebration of global music with the best of Bollywood.
The concert started at 9.30pm with several rousing acts that pumped up the crowd for Akhtar’s appearance – the biggest crowd-puller – at midnight.
Anupam Amod and Ritu Pathak performed a series of duets and solos from various Bollywood films featuring compositions by Pritam, whose name is synonymous with soundtracks. The duo wrapped their set with the well-chosen Te Amo from the 2011 film Dum Maaro Dum to thunderous applause.
Then Arjit Singh took the reins with a few solo songs, including Beinteha and Tum Hi Ho Bandhu from the 2012 film Cocktail. The latter went down so well that Singh performed an encore. The energy level was extremely amped up by this point and Harshdeep Kaur made her entry with the soulful Kabira (from this year’s Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani), mellowing the crowd down considerably. Overwhelmed by the moment – and by the audience’s response – Singh bowed to Dubai, thanking the city and its people for their love. The two continued with a few more duets, but it was Kaur’s Jugni Ji that drove the audience wild. Pritam later joined Kaur in singing his composition Tum Hi Ho Bandhu.
The UAE’s very own Benny Dayal took the stage at around 11.30pm, treating the audience to some of his biggest hits: Tu Hi Meri Dost Hai from the 2008 film Yuvraaj, to his latest hits, such as Daru Desi (Cocktail), Badtameez Dil (Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani) and Lat Lag Gai (2013’s Race 2). The singer, who grew up in Abu Dhabi, is currently one of the most popular playback singers in the Hindi film industry. Songs featuring his vocals have racked up close to 45 million views on YouTube.
After Dayal, it was Akhtar himself. An endearing mix of showman and guy-next-door, the Bollywood star alternated between rock-star glam and boyish charm. From doing push-ups on stage and teasing the crowd about their request for a glimpse of his chiselled physique (following his portrayal of the athlete Milkha Singh in this year’s Bhaag Milkha Bhaag), to humble words of thanks to his fans and acknowledging his entire crew, Akhtar was the proverbial best saved for the last. His raspy vocals had everyone on their feet as they went down memory lane with Socha Hai (2008’s Rock On!) and Dil Chahta Hai (2001’s Dil Chahta Hai).
The grand finale was his roaring rendition of the title track of Rock On!, sending the crowd into a frenzy. It was 1.15am before the concert came to an end, the audience heading home with ears ringing and hearts pumping wildly after what was a resoundingly successful Bollywood night.