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AR Rahman concert: From Vishal Dadlani to Shaan, musicians slam fans who walked out

Some attendees at Rahman’s recent Wembley concert are asking for a refund because he performed Tamil songs along with Hindi numbers. They are being “very disrespectful”, says the Bollywood music fraternity.

music Updated: Jul 15, 2017 17:05 IST
Yashika Mathur
Yashika Mathur
Hindustan Times
A R Rahman,Vishal Dadlani,Shaan
Oscar-winning composer AR Rahman celebrated his 25 years in the music industry with a concert at SSE Arena, Wembley.(REUTERS)

Academy Award-winning music composer AR Rahman celebrated his 25 years in the music industry on July 8 with a concert at the SSE Arena, Wembley, UK. However, some audience members walked out of his show in protest over Tamil songs being performed at the concert. This behaviour, which Indian musicians called “disrespectful”, has been highlighted in recent reports that say some concert-goers are asking for a refund.

The event was co-organised by Hue Box Entertainment and Hamsini Entertainment. Clarifying the organisers’ position, Balaji Goverthanan, director of Hue Box Entertainment, says, “The Tamil name [of the concert] Netra Indra Naale was only mentioned on the Tamil channels… We never mentioned that we’d be playing only Hindi songs or only Tamil songs. Anyone who had bought the ticket and asked us this, we told them that it would be an equal mix of both. There was never a mass walk out.” He adds that the number of protesters is very small: “There were 9,000 people in the arena and I can hardly count even 50 people commenting against [the songs].”

The published track list shows 16 full tracks in Hindi; 12 full Tamil tracks; and one medley with a mix of Tamil and Hindi. But one protesting concert-goer tweeted: “That was my first ever Tamil concert guys. Albeit completely unintentional #ARRahman #SSEArena #Fail #Refund?” Another tweeted: “Was total disaster, for someone who made his name in Bollywood (at least on sheer numbers) it was disrespectful from him, even speaking Tamil.”

Singer-composer Vishal Dadlani says he is “disappointed” that people have made this an issue, since “music is the universe’s first language”. He adds, “I hope they evolve bigger hearts and better minds.”

AR Rahman performs at the Wembley concert.

This is “excessively entitled behaviour by the audience”, says singer Rabbi Shergill, who has worked with Rahman in the film Raanjhanaa. “How dare they walk out simply because he sang a couple of songs in Tamil? If you look at his entire body of work, then Tamil would easily outstrip Hindi.” Rabbi adds, “People feel they can dictate what they want to listen to — if that’s the case, they might as well just stay at home and listen to songs on their USB drive.”

Singer Shaan points out, “You have to be open to not just language but the experience of listening live to someone. I can be sitting in Brazil and listening to [a] Spanish band playing that I don’t understand a word of, and I cannot expect a refund from there.” He adds, “If the organisers had not committed [to] a complete Hindi music performance, then it cannot be wrong. It’s very disrespectful and wrong to assume that it’s all going to be in Hindi. [Rahman] has always been singing Tamil songs.”

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First Published: Jul 15, 2017 17:03 IST