11th October, 2012
For years to come, this historic date will be remembered and commemorated as the International Day for the Girl Child since on this day, the United Nations kick-started a global movement to end gender inequality & promote every girl’s fundamental rights. Coming back to India, it is an undeniable fact that the general public is quite aloof & indifferent to such causes. In such circumstances, how can an institution create the desired awareness to propagate such a cause? One of the best (and most effective) solutions is to organize a major public event where people would have an incentive to turn up and then subtly (or not!) spread the message. And that is exactly what Plan India has done for the cause of the girl child.
They organized the “Because I Am A Girl” concert at Mumbai’s Chitrakoot Grounds on 10th October, 2012 with a stellar line-up of performances including – Indian Ocean, Indus Creed, Sona Mohapatra, Papon & Parikrama. Why would a music aficionado not turn up for this event?! Being one myself, I tried really hard to get a press pass through Plan India themselves but somehow it didn’t work out. At the last moment (literally an hour before commencement), I frantically called up Sona Mohapatra & requested her to help me organize a pass so that I could do whatever little from my side towards the cause. And the amazing woman that she is, my entry was organized within minutes. Thank you !
Let’s get down to the concert now, shall we?
(I need to confess something. This was the first time I heard Indian Ocean live. Thankfully, my friends will stop berating me now.)
Hosted by an extremely over-zealous Saumya Tandon, she welcomed the opening act Indian Ocean on stage. Amidst a huge round of applause, Rahul Ram, Susmit Sen, Amit Kilam & Himanshu Joshi kickstarted the evening with their iconic Are Ruk Ja Re. Now, I love the original recording but a live version definitely introduced a different, albeit, likeable facet to the song.
After the highly-appealing Bengali track Bondhu, they performed my personal favorite Maaya (from The Dewarists). Originally sung along with Mohit Chauhan, I did miss his voice but Rahul Ram’s mesmerizing guitar riff made up for it. I could’ve stood there listening to that piece on loop forever. Finally, they wrapped up their set with Kandisa which caused a HUGE uproar from the crowd.
The first time I ever heard her music was exactly a year ago during her Celebrate Bandra gig. Her powerful vocals swayed me and I was hooked. Back then, two tracks really caught my attention and made their way to my iPod – Tere Ishq Nachaya & Aaja Ve – and to my utmost joy, she performed both of these at this concert. I am a sucker for Hindi sargams and couldn’t stop singing (more like yelling!!) along with her at the top of my voice.
“Sa Ni Sa Ni Sa Ni, Sa Ni Sa Ni Sa Ni, Sa Ma Ga Pa Re”
Moving on, she paid a tribute to the erstwhile singer Meerabai by singing Shaam Piya. Sona is a staunch follower of Meerabai, whom she describes as a woman who embodied free spirit and spread the message of compassion, equality & unconditional love.
Then came the two tracks which have put her in the limelight in recent times – Bedardi Raja (from Delhi Belly) & Rupaiyya (from the TV series – Satyameva Jayate). Wow, oh wow! The crowd went berserk. Listening to an indo-rock version of both these tracks really took me by surprise – especially, that of Bedardi Raja (which she dedicated to the kothewalis).
She wrapped up her set with 2 songs from the Satyameva Jayate tracklist – Nikal Pado & O Re Chiraiya. Personally, I do not like either of those tracks and they just seemed to infringe upon the after-effects of her previous tracks.
“Now this is a ROCK concert!“
That is what I said to myself when Parikrama played their set. Their performance changed the graph of the evening. With their entry, the crowd became border-line uncontrollable. Starting off with every stoner’s query, Am I Dreaming, they set the bar higher with Vaporise (WOW!) & Tears of the Wizard (An outstanding violin riff!).
Hats off to the violinist Imran Khan who stole the show with his outstanding solo and was rewarded with a standing ovation. At one point, he casually strolled into the crowd whilst going crazy with the violin.
Every band member from Nitin Malik (lead vocals) to Sonam Sherpa (lead guitar) helped in “rock”-ing the performance.
Now I am not a fan of Indian Rock (please don’t kill me!), but if this is what it sounds like (read: Parikrama & Indus Creed), then I really need to tune into this genre.
Not many know that Indus Creed originally called themselves Rock Machine. They even released an album under that name.
After a considerable delay due to technical glitches, Uday Benegal, Mahesh Tinaikar, Zubin Balaporia, Rushad Mistry & Jai Row Kavi displayed their music prowess with some of their highly-cherished tracks including Bulletproof, Trapped In My Body & Fireflies.
Could it get any better?
PAPON a.k.a. ANGARAAG MAHANTA
I really LOVE Papon’s rustic Assamese baritone & I try to attend his gigs as far as possible. Opening up with Jiya Baitho Jaye, he enthralled the audience with some of his most popular tracks – including Jiyein Kyun (from Dum Maaro Dum).
My personal favorites include the boat race track Boitha Maro Re, as well as, the recent Kyon (from Barfi). Funnily, everytime I hear Boitha Maro , it reminds me of Hoga Tumse Pyara Kaun from Zamaane Ko Dikhaana Hai.
One admirable quality of Papon’s performances is the infectious vibe that he emits during his live performances. The man obviously loves what he is doing and that is what the audience loves about him. As for Kyon, Papon sounded magical. Yes, the song itself is magical – but was escalated to a new level by his voice.
The maa-baap of Hindi Rock bands – Euphoria – was saved for the last. Euphoria, as clichéd as it might sound, still make the crowds go unbelievably euphoric. To getter a better glimpse of them (despite sitting in the 3rd row), my neighbours in the audience pushed me around. It got so crazy that I had to pack my stationary & stand up.
Dr. Palash Sen made a dramatic entry by singing Rok Sako Toh Rok Lo. This led to his popular track Dhoom Pichuk Dhum. Personally, I thought he was out of tune for the most part but that didn’t stop the crowds from chanting the addictive lines of ‘Tum ho meri, main tumhara, chhota sa sansaar hamara, aage jaane Ram kya hoga’. This just went on and on until they started their most famous track Maeri.
BUT, just when they uttered the ‘M’ of Maeri, the Mumbai police came and shut down the event due to noise restrictions. Abuses were hurled by the audience, Palash Sen pleaded them for just 5 more minutes but the police refused to relent. Sad, I tell you.
MY OBSERVATIONS Stuff behind the scenes or heard while eavesdropping …..
All in all, I took home the desired message that Plan India intended to share with the audience. It was a beautiful experience (despite the minor glitches) and hats off to Plan International for this initiative.
lan India is part of Plan International, one of the world’s largest community development organisations. Plan’s vision is of a world in which all children realise their full potential in societies which respect people’s rights and dignity. Plan is independent, with no religious, political or governmental affiliations.