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Tamil Teri Maa

Had the privilege of mixing the FOH for AR Rahman’s ‘Netru Indru Nalai’ Wembley Concert last week - not by choice but by substitute, when the visas don’t make it back on time. Anyways I have been doing this for all the guys who have worked with me over the past two decades and my role has varied in no ascending order from FOH, Systems, Monitors, RF Tech, Stage Tech, Audio Supplier. On AR’s concerts I wouldn’t mind even being the Backline tech.

It was pretty precarious as I hadn’t been to any of the production rehearsals and Mark Thomas was at the helm of Monitorland for the first time; it was like pulling someone out of semi-retirement back into the pitch and a rookie at the crease. Like two opening batsmen we braced the occasion. Big shows are always about stamping your authority on the audio production and having total control of every audio parameter from the test & measurement tools, sound systems administrator controls, FOH commandeering & a bit of aural musical creativity. Now here is where this helps, having been in every nook and cranny of his audio production, coming into the show wasn’t like it was an entry barrier and we pulled of a blinder all thanks to a little help from the music director & the legendary Shridhar’s son helping me with the solo’s entries or the names of some of the backing singers. Wembley went like a dream with barely a day prior of PA rigging, alignment and show day’s line test, sound-check into show.

So what it’s like doing gigs for the man himself. I guess you put all your experience you have learnt over the years on this gig and every little thing matters. We have always strived for excellence on his technical productions, leaving Wembley with a great sense of pride of our ‘Made In India’ music, whilst I was appalled to hear later about anti-social media cribbing about being a ‘Tamil’ & not ‘Hindi’ concert. Firstly, of all the shows I have done, this hasn’t even occurred to me. Since when do our audiences demand language and ‘Made In Hindi’ is the only acceptable medium or musical instruction. Secondly this whole thing about walking out was one big lie as everyone stayed glued to their seats or danced in the aisles, I was at FOH and hence a witness! The few who left early were elderly or physically challenged people who wanted to break away from the exit crowds post the concert.

A friend of mine interestingly mentioned to me about the expats being called “Coconuts” - Brown from the outside and very white from the inside. This reminds me a lot of the snob value they have developed from living in western countries where even the popular musicals on West-End are called ‘Touristy Musicals”. No point educating these pseudo-highbrow’s about anything. All they have is their opinion on app based phones. They should never be dancing to ‘Despacito’ and thanks to Hindi dubbed versions of Tamil films you have Humma & Urvashi in Hindi. Are you saying your body is not going to get on the floor when you hear Urvashi in Tamil!!

Sorry to burst your bubble folks but the best concerts I have worked on, are Rahman’s Tamil concerts and his ‘Nenje Ezhu Tour” & News7 Concert in Chennai are the most spectacular shows I have been witness to. The gigs open to such loud screams from the audiences that you barely can even hear the PA system during the highlights of the concert. Such is the love and adulation this man receives.

The News7 concert for Live & TV in Chennai was such a sonic spectacular, we had 168 inputs of his entire elaborate band, two sets of strings sections, a grand brass, north & south Indian classical instruments from sitar, veena, tabla, mrindagam, thaval & the works. Some of the arrangements were so awe-inspiring that my hair was standing through practically 30% of the set. How do you control your emotions when ‘Karma Veeran’ is being performed live with such amazing orchestration, the grandeur of horns section and the classical instruments infused altogether to make a phenomenal sound and an audience continually yelling in oblivion to the fact that it is also a Rajnikant flick. But the highlight of the evening was for me Kalpana’s vocal rendition of ‘Kannodu Kanbathellan’ with such amazing support of the Indian classical musical instruments. That song just left me blown away!

Imagine this mans discography of hits are so many that it would practically take him a weeklong concert to complete his “Greatest Hits LIVE”. And working with the composer himself, is always a journey of learning as he has been at every step of the way making the songs. So if it’s the orchestration in Jab tak hain jaan, the bass-line in ‘Humma Humma’, the drums & guitars in ‘Naadan Parinde’ or the piano in ‘Dil Se’ which by the way is something I have discovered. He has changed his set list in all his concerts but I haven’t attended or worked on a single concert without ‘Dil Se’ seems like this song is closest to his heart!

We cannot fathom AR’s contribution to “Made In India” the superlatives are in the awards and in the recognition. And to all those Hindi concert audiences for your pleasure, be happy he even made a record like the music for ‘Taal’ which according to me is his ‘Masterpiece’ in your language. Why don’t you make a song in Tamil for the world to appreciate before you even decide to jig to a Latin or Middle Eastern song on the dance floor. I also find it extremely distasteful when people make internet parodies of India’s Global Ambassador of Music whilst these deadbeats who have not achieved anything, could actually spend their time doing some social work or making better music.

We have to respect people for their work and contribution to the world of music and this doesn’t mean just the top tier music directors, producers or singers, this also goes out to small resto-bars & clubs where Live music is performed. Everybody’s voice or music has a place under this sun. Being disrespectful just brings us discredit and puts us in very poor light.

PS – Whilst all of us fans & colleagues who are standing by him on social media or our blogs, he himself was deeply hurt and wants what’s best for his fans and owes his success to his fans. Humbled beyond words. And Thank You! AR it is a privilege and honour to serve you Sir.

Warren D’souza - Founder, Managing Director, & Working Member of Sound.Com

#SoundGuyForlife | #AudioEvangelist


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