Kolkata, Oct 2 (IANS) Complete with pyrotechnics, special visual effects and superior acoustics, A.R. Rahman's maiden concert on his ongoing India tour cemented his love for his fans who turned out in droves braving the downpour here Tuesday.
Accompanied by singers Javed Ali, Sukhwinder Singh, Hriday Gattani, Suchismita, Neeti Mohan, Harshdeep Kaur, Shweta Pandit among others, Rahman's offering 'Rahmanishq' thrived on the emotional connect with the audience which repeated lyrics, whistled and cheered with constantly changing visual effects on a giant LCD screen at the Salt Lake Stadium here.
Stretching for three hours on a rainy Tuesday, the concert featured videos of lesser-known songs interspersed with hits.
The "Dil Hai Chhota Sa" hitmaker made a conscious decision not to be repetitive (he performed in the city in 2009) in his choice of songs for the concert.
Kicking off with the soulful yet rhythmic "Dil Se", Rahman (dressed in a black outfit fitted with tiny LEDs) with Sukhwinder Singh progressed to numbers "Taal Se Taal" and "Ramta Jogi" from "Taal".
True to his promise of giving the artistically-inclined Kolkata fans a bit of literature and art, the Grammy Award winner wowed the crowd with his rendition of Rabindranath Tagore's classic poem "Where The Mind is Without Fear".
The poem titled "Jagao Mere Desh Ko" has been tuned by Rahman. It debuted on the 67th Independence Day and juxtaposes Tagore's lyrics with Bollywood lyricist Prasoon Joshi's contribution in Hindi.
In sync with the lyrics, the screen lit up with multi-hued sparks and the tri-colour.
With rapt attention, spectators listened to Rahman croon a few words of the song in Bengali.
The songs that elicited the maximum response from the audiences were "Jo Bhi Main", "Katiya Karun" from "Rockstarr", "Maiyya Maiyya", "Tere Bina" from "Guru", "Yeh Jo Desh Hai Mera" from "Swades", "Jashn-e-Bahara" from "Jodha Akhbar" and "Jiya Re" from "Jab Tak Hai Jaan".
Not only did his fans sing along, they whistled as Mohan, decked up like an Arabian princess atop a chariot, started the "Maiyya Maiyya" number.
Even the backdrop on the screen added to the charm. Haveli style windows in different colours and shapes came up on screen during renditions of the Sufi-based tracks like "Jash-e-Bahara". Birds, flowers and butterflies accentuated Mohan's "Jiya Re", while jets of sparks from guitars carried by dancers during "Jo Bhi Main" added to the song's soulful effect.
Rajasthani (Ghoomar) and Gujarati folk dances highlighted songs like "Raanjhana", "Tohe Pia Milengey" and "Banarasiya". Classical dancers on stilts embraced the "Tere Bina" tracks which also saw acrobats matching steps.
Later, a setup for qawwali with Rahman and his ensemble attired in kurtas and headgear set the mood for a Sufi evening. The intro of "Khwaja Mere Khwaja" from "Jodha Akhbar" skillfully merged into "Kun Faya Kun" from "Rockstarr" proving Rahman's unique ability to amalgamate styles.
By this time audiences - most of whom were drenched - had become impatient. Clamours for "Dil Hai Chhota Sa" continued in the background.
They had seen Rahman's varied styles - Indo-Western fusion, Sufi, classical, rock and a clipping of his son too. But clearly some old hits were on their minds.
And old hits they got in the end.
"Mustafa" enlivened the spectators and as Rahman threw in the words "Kolkata", the crowd cheered. And people finally stood up as the ever-green "Vande Mataram" marked the finale.