Apr 7, 2007

Hariharan's concert in Phoenix

It was the 23rd March, a few days before couple of submissions and meetings. I knew it was going to be a nasty weekend ahead, but I couldn’t give up something that I’d planned a few months ago. It was singer Hariharan’s concert ‘SRISHTI’ that was to take place in Mesa, AZ. It was marketed as ‘Hariharan in Phoenix’ and was probably the first time that the ‘Phoenixites’(ala Mumbaiites, Delhiites….. or is there a better way, ‘Phoenicians’??) were getting to see Hariharan.

For those who aren’t familiar with Hariharan, he is one of the renowned playback singers in the Indian film industry, who was into Ghazal singing for quite a while till A.R. Rahman used him for a song in his debut film ‘Roja’ in 1992. It is pretty unfortunate that Hariharan was not noticed by the masses till then, except by the Ghazal-loving people. It is after the song in Roja, ‘Thamizha, Thamizha’, that he was noticed by the conventional film-makers and music directors who begun using his voice. His song ‘Uyire Uyire’ from Bombay is still one of the finest songs ever in the history of Tamil cinema. In 1996 he formed ‘Colonial Cousins’, with Leslie Lewis and the very first pop album and its successors were well received by the Indians. He’s been singing in Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Kannada and a couple of other languages.

It’s not strange that, never are his renditions of a song, identical. That’s something to his advantage and disadvantage (the former is true in most cases). And he always begins a song in a totally different way, before getting into the actual lyrics of the song. This was really one of the interesting things that happened during this concert. He kept the entire audience guessing what song he was going to be singing, and this surely was something a music fanatic would love to do. Myself, Supraja, Shanta and a few of Shanta’s friends were together and were seated in the last row of the balcony(is that what they call it here?, well atleast it was on the second level(first floor by Indian norms)).

The concert supposed to begin at 7 pm started with an atrocious introductory speech, and a dance for a medley of ‘Nahin Samne’ from Taal, ‘Premalekha’ a song from a Telugu movie(sounded close to a song in a Tamil movie called ‘Nee Varuvai Ena’, probably a remake), and a song from a Tamil movie Ullasam. If this was an indication to the kind of songs he was going to be singing, I definitely felt I was going to hate the concert, since except for the first song, I didn’t enjoy listening to the other two.

I expected him to sing a couple of Ghazals as well and I was not wrong. I am not a person into Ghazals, but love listening to them whenever I get a chance to listen to them. He started with a couple of Ghazals and the strictly normal audience (nothing to do with the probability distribution), was getting bored and people began to talk and he was forced to cut them short and start singing movie songs. He made a mention at the beginning of the concert that he was going to be singing ‘Urdu Blues’ and some ‘Sufi Music’. The terms ‘Blues’ was coined because the uniform for people singing blues was Blue in color, seems interesting.

A list of songs/Ghazals that Hariharan sung that evening:

Kash Aisa Koi Manzar

Usne Jab Mujhse Kiya

E Aayine Se Pehle - this song had some really excellent keyboard notes. This was what he called Urdu blues.

Eh de Masti Hain – He began this song by teaching a few swaras to the Phoenix people, and made them repeat it, but ultimately ended up in a faster rendition which no one could repeat J. With this began Ga Ga Ni Ga Ri Sa Sa, Eh De Masti hain, Log Kehte Hain.

It was by this time that the audience became restless and began with an unusual song, but loved by everyone.

Nila Kaaygiradhu – This is from a Tamil movie Indira, set to music by ARR. He also gave an English translation to the song.

Yeh Lamhe Yeh Pal Hain

Ennai Thalatta Varuvaalo – A song from ‘Kadhalukku Mariyadhai’, something that I didn’t expect nor did I enjoy this one. This might be because I am biased against the Tamil actor Vijay.

He finally came up with the song from’Yaadein’, Baatein Bhool Bhool Jaathein Hain, Yaadein Yaad Aathi Hain. This song end with the Phoenix people singing the song. This was the end of first part of the concert.

The Sankara Eye foundation that organized the concert, had a 10 minute show of what they were doing in India and this seemed to be a really nice initiative. There was a 10 minute break till 9 pm. The restaurant Udipi Café seemed to cash on this opportunity by providing with dinner for the audience, however at a reasonable cost.

The second part of the concert had a greater number of songs. Hariharan was joined by one of his students Chandrayi, who was the female lead for the few duets he sung.

Bahon ki Dharmiyan – This was a really soothing number from ‘Khamoshi: The Musical’

Nelloru Nele Jaana - the dubbed version of immensely popular ‘Kurukku Sirithavale’ from Mudhalvan. He however seemed to sing a few lines from the Tamil version in the middle. But neither Hariharan nor Chandrayi could get their Telugu right.

He then began with a classical rendition of Krishna Nee Begane Baro, and followed it up with the Colonial Cousins version of the songs and ended it on a classical note. Only Hariharan can do it.

He next began ‘Tuj Pi Kahan…?’, and none of us knew this song, but ultimately it was a beginning to ‘Chanda Re aka Vennilave’ from ‘Sapnay aka Minsara Kanavu’ in typical Hariharan style.

It was the same with ‘More Saiyyan Ghar Nahin Aaye’ which ended in ’Roja Jaaneman’. Till then I didn’t know SPB and Hariharan had rendered that in Hindi. It seemed really good in Hariharan’s voice too.

He then sung his latest hit from the Jyothika-Kamalhasan starrer Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu – ‘Manjal Veyyil Maalaiyile’.

Next was the most awaited song – one of his recent hits, one of current favorites and what he called Sufi Music. Aye Hairathey Aashiqui from Guru. One of the features of this one was that Hariharan himself sung the ‘Dham Dhara Dham Dhara Chashm Chashm”, with great ease. Chandrayi sung this better than Alka Yagnik in the original.

Yamuna Theeram from the Telugu Movie Anand was his next song.

He had Ghazal next and a few Thukdas for an old friend in Phoenix. This included his first song.

It was then he said he was going to sign three songs before ending the concert.

He then sung Taj Mahal’s Apni Zulfen. This was followed by Nahin Saamne from Taal, which had a long ‘Preyasi…….’ And finally him at his best ‘Uyire Uyire’ from Bombay.

It was really refreshing after his concert. We also managed to get a photograph taken along with him and also his autograph. I was really excited about this and so were Supraja and Shanta. I wouldn’t want to post the photo over her though.

The only thing I don’t want to remember about this event was the way I had dressed up. I was in school till an hour before the concert and had no time to change, I was in my usual weekend attire. And that weekend was a really demanding one for me, and I was happy that I could make it to the concert.


  1. that is really well written .. and i did realize tht when we start to talk abt a veteran singer .. we just cant stop.. i love nila kaikirathu and tu hi re.. of his songs.. and they are really close to my heart..he is gr8 and his songs are too.. catch up with his songs.. from old ones to evergreen hits.. to new releases at hummaa.com


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