Sunday, January 03, 2010

Starting the new year on a good note

"Sonu Nigam is coming to town!"

This was my Christmas song for 2009. The moment I had heard about his concert on the radio, I got my hands on the tickets. It was a dream come true. SONU NIGAM LIVE! (Yes, Nigam it is. I still can't get myself to use his new Ekta-Kapoorised surname 'Niigaam'.)

I was counting down the days leading to 2nd Jan, and finally, it happened. We were at the Suntec City convention centre as part of the 2500-strong crowd that had turned up to see the musical genius in action.

The concert was supposed to start at 7 pm, and we were seated by then. However, nothing happened for like half an hour. We were wondering if it was just badly organised or they were going to start at IST or Sonu was simply late. Grrrr... we know what happens when someone is late without reason (something explodes in my head).

At about 7.30 pm, out came the host, henceforth known as Diagonal Glitter Dress Girl or DGSquare. Did poor DGSquare have a tough task or what. No sooner than she had uttered the killer words, "Now let me tell you something about the organisers SPICE..." that the entire crowd went "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Poor girl, but seriously, we were there for Sonu and he had made us wait half an hour. So everyone cut her off and started clapping and chanting, "Sonu! Sonu! Sonu!" She meekly retreated and passed the microphone to this guy who came out and started talking about -- get this -- how talented Sonu is. Sheesh!!

It was obvious they were playing for time and he didn't get much favour from the audience. In fact, we got more irritated. I wanted to yell out, "Dude, we know how talented Sonu is. That's why we are here!" The crowd cut him off too. The hall was filled with chants of "We want Sonu!", "Sonu, come out!", and "Sooonuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!" (Maybe that's why he changed his surname? Maybe someone in a crowd called out to him and said "Niiiiiiiigaaaaaaaaam!" and he decided to add in the extra 'i's and 'a's.) The guy in front of me said, "Sonu bolne se kuchh nahin ho raha hai. Let's yell out Monu instead. Maybe he'll come out?" I wanted to stand on my chair and yell in capital letters, "SONU! AGAR MAA KA DOODH PIYA HAI TOH BAAHAR NIKAL!"

Finally it seemed like something was happening because the musicians started to play, but next thing we know they're playing and singing (!) songs from 'Rock On'. COME ON, MAN! They played 'Rock on' and 'Socha hai'. Then the male host came back (AAAARGH!) and started talking about some girl called Gunjan, who came out singing "Raat baaki baat baaki". DOUBLE AAAAARGH!!! Where the heck was Sonu and who the heck was this girl? I seriously thought someone would throw a shoe or something at the stage. Fortunately for Gunjan, firstly, she sang well she was hot, and secondly, she sang well. She went on to sing three songs, and even though she sounded good, we yelled out "Sonuuuuu!" whenever she paused.

Finally she made her exit, but it was followed by a slideshow about Sonu, which had statistics about his performances, one of which talked about how he had burnt 1 million calories during his stage shows. Huh?! We were so annoyed we were not sure even if that was supposed to be a joke.

And finally, finally, finally, at 8 pm, Sonu's voice filled the hall. "This had better be the real Sonu and not some recording!" I was grinding my teeth and thinking.

And then it happened. Sonu Nigam, the god of Bollywood music, came out, dressed in white pants, a light blue full-sleeved shirt and a white waistcoat. He had realised that the only way to calm us down was "no talk only sing" and he did exactly that. He sang a medley of his popular songs before getting down to talking.

We were seated about slightly more than 50 metres from the stage and could see him very clearly. He sang 'Falak dekhoon', followed by the remix version of 'Chak de saare gham' (remix version meaning he sang too fast and there were too many beats), and then 'Dil dooba'. "Come on man, bring out the real Sonu songs!" I yelled in my head.

And finally, it seemed like the real show started. Sonu sang all his famous songs and he did variations to every single one of them. Actually it would have been nice if he had sung at least some of the songs the way we knew them (the slow soulful Sonu-ish melodies) but he was still good and we were hooting and clapping like crazy. Some girl yelled out "SONU, I LOVE YOU!" (no, it wasn't me) and he responded with a "I LOVE YOU TOO!", driving her and her friends mad of course. Next thing we know, a guy in the audience yells out, "SONU, I LOVE YOU!". Erm, Sonu said nothing.

He spoke about how the Singapore audience had changed from the first time he had performed here, from clapping politely to raising their hands and clapping to the insanity he was witnessing.

I was hoping Sonu would also make time for some mimicry. (If you didn't know, he rocks at mimicking other Bollywood singers. Check this video out.) He didn't do exactly that, but he did something very interesting and unique. He was talking about how people react when they bump into him at airports or when they are seated next to him in the plane. Some guy asked him, "Woh John aur Bipasha ka abhi tak chal raha hai kya?" and when Sonu said he didn't know, the guy asked, "Suna hai Aishwarya Rai... sach hai kya?" and then made a pregnant tummy gesture.

One of the questions he said he gets a lot is "Sonu ji, gana kaise banta hai?" So he has now started including this item in all his concerts to show how a song is composed. "We start with the lyrics. Let's make some lyrics now. How about vegetable names? Give me some vegetable names." We started yelling, "Aloo! Bhindi! Baingan! Mooli! Gobhi!" His guitarist yelled out, "Matar paneer!" "Arre yaar, matar paneer toh bani banaayi sabzi hai, I'm looking for raw vegetable names. Okay never mind, let's take aloo, mooli, gobhi and matar paneer." Next, he got his percussionist to give him the beats and then composed a whole song of it. Luckily, Viv captured part of it on his phone (if I'd known they'd allow cameras in, I'd have taken mine. We had to make do with mobile phones). Check out the aloo gobhi song in the video below!

Sonu also gave demonstrations of how the song would go if composed by different music directors. He started with Nadeem-Shravan and did the aloo gobhi song with the typical dholak beats and a Nadeem-Shravan-ish tune. Next was Anu Malik's style. "Who else?" He asked us. I patted myself on the back as I was one of the first to yell out "HIMESH!" Many others followed suit. "Himesh?" he asked, and shook his head at us in disapproval. Suddenly he broke into a Himesh-style rendition of the song, "Alooooooooooonnnnn! Matar-paneeeer-matar-matar-matar!" leaving us howling with laughter.

For a guy nearing 40, he not only looks young, he's super energetic too. He rocked the stage with his dance moves and variations which showed off the amazing range he can do. Awesome awesome awesome. The only downside was that he didn't sing Tanhaayee.

They had an interval around 10 pm, and we were once again ready to howl in dismay because the male host came out again. However, this time, he really redeemed himself. First, he told us that Sonu had been very unwell the last few days and had been hospitalised, and that's why the delays had occurred. Next, he did impressions of Bollywood actors at a Navraatri puja and what they said to Durga Ma. He did an especially great job as Amol Palekar (who said in his typical calm way "Excuse me Durga Mata..."), Sunil Shetty ("Ayee Durga Mata!"), Amrish Puri and Nana Patekar. The audience howled in laughter when he had Vinod Khanna saying "Durga Ma, tuney mere sar par sattavan ki umar mein bhi itne baal rakhe, lekin mere bete ke sar se sattaais mein hi chheen liye?")

Gunjan came out again and sang a few more songs, including the Pussycat Dolls' version of 'Jai ho!', 'Dance pe chance' and 'Yeh ishq haaye'. She didn't sound all that great this time, possibly because she wasn't all that prepared and was just trying to play for time. In fact, she finished singing and went back, and then came out again to sing another song because Sonu wasn't ready. DGSquare came out next, and this time she somehow managed to finish her SPICE speech which we had not let her complete earlier. She also announced something unexpected -- that Anil Kapoor was on his way up! A few minutes passed and nothing happened, and I feared for her life again. The mimicking guy came out to save her ass and told us that Anil Kapoor had been held up by security, because his entry was unexpected and they didn't know who he was. After a long wait, finally Anil Kapoor did make his entrance to loud cheers. Okay, for a guy of his age, he sure looks GOOOOD!

The chairman of the SPICE group, introduced to us as Dr. Modi, was there too. In fact, it was his birthday. Everyone (including Anil Kapoor) sang 'Happy birthday' for him, and because no one gave us his first name, we ended up singing, "Happy birthday to Modi!"

Sonu came back in a while, dressed in jeans, a maroon shirt and a red scarf this time. He sang some slow numbers and then asked us what we wanted to hear next. "Bijuria!" Someone yelled. "Bijuria? I don't know the song. Is it this one?" He said, and broke into an aadivasi-style rendition of 'Bijuria'. "NOOOOOOOOOOO" We yelled out. He did it again, singing it in a different way. "This one?" He asked. "NOOOOOOOOOOO" We yelled again. "Okay, someone needs to tell me which one then. Who knows the song?" A guy in the audience raised his hand. He was asked to go up to shake hands with Sonu and sing 'Bijuria'. I thought he sang quite well, considering he has Sonu Nigam at his side, and thousands of people looking at him. Sonu then sang the correct 'Bijuria'.

He also sang 'Tumse milke dil ka yeh hai haal' and added a funny twist to it. Just before the word "hai!" in the song, he'd pause and wave to someone and say "Hiii!" instead, and then go back to singing the 'hai!" Every now and then, he also held the mike out to the audience to sing (especially parts like 'Just chill chill, just chill'), and quite surprisingly, we all sounded quite in tune. Even Sonu seemed surprised at that. He had several other playful things up his sleeve. When he was singing 'Sooraj hua madhyam', he actually sang, "Kya yeh mera pehla... doosra... teesra... saatwan... unteeswan...teeswan pyaar hai, sajnaaaaaaaaa....'

Towards the end, he sang his latest hit song 'Aal izz well'. Finally, he wrapped up the show, apologising for any mistakes in his singing and told us about his hospitalisation. We came back and looked it up, and it looks like he really was in a bad state.

Thanks for a great concert, Sonu, and hope aaaal izzz well with you soon!


prathi said...

My happiest moment so far in not a big fan of sonu nigam but I am happy that he came to singapore and bhai blogged about it and i got u sonu..!

Tejal said...

Lost the gold :'(
Will read the post n comment later :P

Shubha Samalia said...

Bronzeeeee!!!!!! case there is any......:)
Hey Sayesha, nice to know you had great time....:)
This is my first comment on your post, though i'hve been a visitor at the bar quite often off late.......and needless to say you are an amazing amazing writer.......its been a pleasure reading your posts.....Keep writing.....!!!!!!!

Shubha Samalia said...

And yes, forgot to say that......
Wish you hv a great funfilled yr ahead......:)

Anonymous said...

woaa looks like u had fultu fun over thr. hav a great 2010 :P

Anusha said...

It was a fantastic concert, but I'd have left happier if he hadn't ended it with a jazzed-up version of "Kal Ho Na Ho". Seriously, that song is meant to be MELODIOUS!

I think my favourite bits were when he held the mike to the audience at certain parts and then seemed genuinely surprised we sounded so good. Yay, interactive concerts! :D

Neha said...

Sonu is GOOD! I have never been to any of his concerts, and I know that hearing a singer/ band live is an altogether different experience. Did he sing any songs from Dil Se? They were just fab!!

Angelsera said...

Hey Happy New Year!
I so wanted to go for the concert.. He is an awesome performer..hopefully he will come back soon n in better health


~ Lopa said...

Ohh wow, kya post hai bhai....
and again it's about something on my mind, as i saw a pamphlet last week that Sonu is coming to Europe and to Holland in february and i was asking a few friends if we shall go to the concert and then i check your blog and here is a entry.... on his concert in Singapore.... Can you imagine how would i be feeling !!

Somya said...

wow...sure sounds like a great experience...even I like Sonu nigam's way of rendering songs better than most of his cntemporaries. My friends think this is weird but song which kinda highlights the fact that he is much ahead of others singers is "Kabhi Alvida na Kehna" title can feel the heart break when he is singing but Alka Yagnik sounds so flat that its heartbreaking in its own way.

Sayesha said...

Hehehe.. thanks. :)

Sudhar ja bachi tu! :P

Thanks so much for your kind words. :)) Wish you a very happy new year too!

Thanks, you too! :)

I TOTALLY agree with you! :))

Naah, I don't think he sang any Dil Se songs... I can only think of Satrangi and he didn't sing that.

Happy new year to you too! Hope all's well! :)

You SHOULD go for the concert! And I do hope he's in better health by then. :)

Yeah, he does add that zing to any song. The song that stands out for me is Tanhaayee, his voice LIVES that song!


日月神教-任我行 said...