AR Rahman Concert

AR Rahman Concert


Oscar winner AR Rahman did not disappoint his audience, and it was surreal to watch and hear the adulation that he got from his audience in Silicon Valley. AR Rahman’s Intimate Concert Tour was a sold out event on June 11 and June 12 in San Jose. AR as he is known is on a hectic tour of North America that started on the East Coast in May and is making it way around the US. The West Coast is their last leg of their hectic tour that ends with a concert in Vancouver, Canada next week.


AR Rahman San Jose

AR Rahman Concert in San Jose


While waiting for the concert to start I could not but help listen to people discussing in English, Tamil, Hindi and Punjabi about AR’s music and what they expect to hear. And AR did not disappoint his audience. We heard songs in Urdu, Tamil, Hindi, Punjabi, French and English.


AR Rahman Music

AR Rahman in Concert


AR’s eclectic selection of songs included different musical genres from Carnatic, qawwali, jazz, rap, Bollywood and Hollywood. They included songs from his films like  Roja, Bombay, Dil Se, RockstarTaal, Laagan Highway, 100 Foot Journey, 127 Hours, Delhi 6, and Slumdog Millionaire. Accompanying AR were vocalist Jonita Gandhi, Haricharan Sheshadri and Annette Philip. Rounding up the band were  a couple of percussionists, guitarists, a vilionist (fiddler?) and a dancer.

AR Rahman Concert

AR Rahman Concert


AR played multiple instruments from piano, keyboards to an accordion. At one point he also played requests from the audience on the accordion.  And for one of his songs he requested the audience to turn on their cell phones and hold it high. And boy! that was a sight to behold when you saw hundreds of brightly lit screens of cell phones waving in the air. Take a look at this picture, which barely captures the mood in the auditorium.

AR Rahman Concert

AR Rahman Concert


What took me suprise was a jazz number that AR and Philip sang. I was pleasantly floor to hear Philip scatting away with superb confidence. Philip is a an alum of Berklee School of Music and is an accomplished singer. This was the first time I saw her at a live concert.

Gandhi, a Indo-Canadaian singer belted out quite a few songs in Tamil, Hindi, French and a rap song in English. Sheshadri and Gandhi sang a few duets from the extensive repoitoire of AR’s discography.

The concert started a little after 8 pm and lasted till almost 11 pm.  “Don’t leave your seat after the concert is over, there is an encore,” advised our usher as she pointed us to our seats before the concert. She was right. At the enderafter AR thanked and waved goodbye to his audience, he came back with his troupe to sing a repertoire of songs from his various films. My sense was that folks were willing to stay for another hour had he wanted to continue with their singing. But, AR’s show must continue in a different city and this time it is going to be Seattle.

The hashtag for AR Rahman’s Intimate Concert is #ARRNAIT


Podcast: Bollywood Sounds & American Influence with Jayson Beaster-Jones

Bollywood Sounds

Bollywood Sounds

What are the sounds of Bollywood music? What are the various influences that shaped and continue shape Bollywood music?

If you delve deep into the subject of Bollywood music as Prof. Jayson Beaster- Jones has done, you will discover all sorts of musical influence from jazz, big band to gypsy music and hip-hop. American music has influenced Hindi or Bollywood music going back to the early day – think 1940s. You can hear traces of Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey and other big band music in the early Hindi film music. Beaster-Jones illustrates the American influence through Dorsey’s “Song of India” that was originally composed by Russian  Rimsky-Korsakov‘s made famous by Dorsey and traveled to Bombay and made it to a Hindi film track.

If you fast forward to the 21st century you will discover hip-hop and rock music and the neo-swing music of Mikey McCleary, a New Zealander, who is remixing and re-imaginging those old vintage and retro Hindi film songs in new ways.

We spoke with Beaster-Jones on the various global influences that go into the making of Bollywood music and look at the American influence on Indian cinema. It comes as quite a bit of surprise to folks when you mention how strong American music influenced Hindi or Bollywood film music.

Beaster-Jones is an ethnomusicologist and teaches at University of California, Merced. He has written researched and written on the subject of Indian film music. His first book is “Bollywood Sounds: The Cosmopolitan Mediations of Hindi Film Song” and he is writing a second one called “Music as Merchandise: Music Commodities, Markets, and Values in India.”

LISTEN: Bollywood Sounds & American Influence with Jayson Beaster-Jones


Related Links: Prof Greg Booth Making of Bollywood Music Part-2 and Part-3 and AR Rahman on His Musical Journey.


Podcast: Academy Award Winner AR Rahman On His Musical Journey Part-2

LISTEN: Academy Award Winner AR Rahman On His Musical Journey Part-2

AR Rahman

AR Rahman

In February 2009 I spoke to AR Rahman or AR as he prefers to be called about his musical journey and how it all started in his hometown of Chennai in Tamil Nadu. We spoke on the eve of his big Academy Award night for Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire.” AR won 2 Oscars, and the film won the best picture award.

An intensely private person AR prefers to sit huddled in his music studio rather than talk to the media.  But, with the sudden and unexpected success of Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire” AR found himself in the media spotlight, especially international media.

In Part-2 of our conversation AR talks about this musical journey that began when he was in high school. It all started in Kodambakkam, the epicenter of Chennai, (then Madras) of South Indian film industry. His mother played a pivotal role in shaping his career. Continue reading

Podcast: Prof. Greg Booth On Making of Bollywood Music Part-3


Greg Booth

Greg Booth

Prof. Greg Booth is a musician, teacher and an author. In his book “Looking Behind The Curtain Making Music In Mumbai’s Film Industry” he takes us behind the silverscreen to show us how music was (is) made in Hindi or Bollywood films.

In Part-2 Prof. Booth talks about the process of how songs were created especially in the 20th century. Big orchestras was a key part of the music making process. The situation in the film dictates the nature and style of music. In the book he highlights the music making style of music directors like NaushadShankar-Jaikishen, Lakshmikant-PyarelalSB Burman and RD Burman.

Cut to 21st century and the process of creating music for Bollywood films has changed with the introduction of digital technology. Oscar winner AR Rahman was one of the early music composers, who used digital technology extensively and pared down on the need for a huge orchestra. With the embrace of digital technology, the process of creating music has completely changed when compared to the 20th c. Another change that has come about is that today the musicians are in front of the screen, and not behind the curtain like their predecessors.

LISTEN: Prof. Greg Booth On Making of Bollywood Music Part-3

In case you missed, you might want to check our previous segments with Prof. Booth on Indian Wedding Brass Bands and The Making of Bollywood Music.

Music credits: Baiju Bawra, Barsaat, Farz, Caravan, Bobby, Roja and Aradhana