I have been an ardent fan of the Oscar-winning music composer AR Rahman since the ‘Roja’ days and I feel particularly sorry for admitting that I haven’t been to any of his live concerts! But all is not lost and I still have my hopes high. Meanwhile, I was privileged to watch a movie on his life and times through a concert called ‘One Heart – The AR Rahman Concert Film’. It’s a film for anyone who has missed the chance to experience a live performance.
The 90-minute documentary consists of footage from AR Rahman’s ‘The Intimate Concert Tour’ in which his cherry-picked 10-member band performed in 14 cities across the US. Though I could not ignore the fact that this movie appears to be produced as an afterthought by including additional footage, in the end, it was the music and the live performances that mattered. It revealed the maestro’s melodious journey through a rare interview of the legendary composer himself, how he engineers those tunes, his inspirations, and associations, etc., also a never-before-seen Rahman opening up on his personal life. The live band consists of AR Rahman himself, with Ranjit Barot (percussion), Annette Philip (jazz/vocals), Marie Calhoun (violin), Jonita Gandhi (from Toronto! Yaay!!) and Haricharan (vocals), Mohini De (bass guitar/prodigy), Keba Jeremiah (guitar), Devi Rani Najev (dancer), along with Shiraz Uppal, Sanket Athale, Ashwin Srinivasan, and more, most of whom you might have caught jamming on the MTV Unplugged (India) season. I imagine I may have missed a few names, but then again, the concert was very engrossing.
Rahman and his talented band of artistes performed 15 compositions from his Hindi and Southern repertoire and although you may not have a grasp of the dialect it’ll still strike a chord with your soul. For those inclined, I switched the subtitles on Netflix and it dished out the perfect translations for those subtle Tamil verses! Speaking of languages I was particularly enthused by the genius of Jonita Gandhi who was impeccable with her Tamil renditions as much as she was in Hindi. Not to mention her mellifluous voice that infused a breath of freshness to Rahman’s melodies performing in front of a stunned audience. From his Sufiana songs to Rock and Pop to Jazz and to Hindustani Classical, ‘One Heart’ gives the melodic aficionado an insight into the immense musical versatility of the brilliant composer.
Eventually, as any ardent Rahman fan might like to admit, the 15 songs featured on the list weren’t enough to do justice to the legend’s evergreen journey of soulful mixes of more than 600 tunes. I wished he’d have sung a few more of his brilliant Hindi notes from ‘Meenaxi – A Tale of Three Cities’, ‘Rangeela’, and even ‘Thakshak’. Though, in my opinion, that would make a sequel necessary, perhaps called ‘One Heart – Once Again’!