Thursday night, while “Tum Hi Ho” was being belted out, I shot a short video and posted it on our college WhatsApp group. One friend wrote back asking, “Who is he?” I then forwarded the same video to another school-friends group to have yet another friend pose the same question.
Guys come on! We need to get away from this time warp, the chimera of old Hindi songs that has so many of us touching 50 so trapped that we are unable to appreciate the amazing wealth of talent that exists in non-classical Hindi film and non-film music today.
The Arijit Singh concert was organized by the students of ICT in their Matunga campus, like the Shaan concert in 2011. It started an hour or so late, but that was fine given that the 90 minutes odd concert would anyway have to get over before the 10 pm deadline that exists for all outdoor performances in Mumbai. Seriously, this insane rule really needs to be revisited sooner rather than later.
The crowd as expected consisted of teens and young adults in their 20s, with a few scattered “uncles” and “aunties” like us. For once, I didn’t mind being addressed “uncle”…all of us “seniors” were given priority entry.
I first heard Arijit on television, probably in an episode of Indian Idol, where he sang along with one of the contestants and I was struck by the timbre of his voice and the control he had over it. I don’t remember what he sung that day, but since then I have been hooked…his recent MTV “unplugged” album will help you understand why!
Arguably, his most famous song is “Tum Hi Ho” from Aashiqui 2 and many people only recognize him as that award-winning A2 singer. He started and ended the concert with this number, which is perhaps last year’s most popular love anthem and had the kids and us eating out of the palm of his hands each time he sang this.
Arijit still does not have a large repertoire of his own songs and when he filled out the performance by singing other popular numbers, there was a momentary dip, simply because all of us had to come to listen to Arijit singing Arijit numbers, not covers of songs as happens in other musical orchestras. Once he re-started with “Kabira”, the ground was again on fire and he even had us “uncles” and “aunties” up on the chairs swaying with the rest of the crowd, including when he sang “Sunn Raha Hai”, also from A2, which he made his own despite having originally been sung by Ankit Tiwari.
My kids and I had a bet about “Raabta”, the initial part of which seems to have been sung by Arijit in a single breath, in the original recorded version. We often try to emulate him, succeeding perhaps once in 3-4 tries, and that too only after we have taken really, really deep breaths. Obviously, the number has been studio engineered…and Arijit took as many breaths as needed to keep the song going. This was perhaps the only number that didn’t quite just seem right!
Live outdoor artiste performances in Matunga are so rare that whenever they do happen, they are worth going to…these are the desi “rock” concerts that we used to see in the movies (Kumar Gaurav in “Star”, etc.), but never in real life…they are all happening now. Hopefully, I might even be able to write another piece titled, “The Nadaan Parindey of Matunga” (for middle-aged ignoramuses who are bound to ask…I am talking about Mohit Chauhan…jeez!)