The last time I heard Hariharan live was in Madras during the 'Colonial cousins' concert, almost a decade ago. Times of India had organized this brilliant concert as part of their Pongal celebrations at Bandra Fort's open auditorium on Sunday evening.
Pongal concert, Hariharan... hmm but will he be singing tamizh songs? This was my doubt even as I stood in the long queue from 6pm for a 7 o clock concert. The moment I saw a lot of Pattu-p-podavaias, right mookuttis, a man with THE HINDU paper, "jaldi-aa vaa" aunty, a lakshanam girl saying "latha perimmavai vara cholren"[kindly note the Mumbai-tam-influenced-by-Palakkadu Kameshwaran accent], I knew he was going to sing a lot of tamizh numbers.
Our star RJ, Anmol was the host for the evening. The whole of last week, another tam colleague and I rehearsed his tamizh lines with him. The show started with Anmol wishing everyone "Pongal-o-Pongal", offering Hariharan a bit of Karumbu to see if his teeth were still intact :) Oh ya, I had my...rather my name had its one second of fame on stage with Anmol thanking his tamizh colleagues for our valuable tamizh sevai.
Hariharan started the concert with 'Nila Kaaigiradu...', moved to 'Ennai taalatta varuvalo', 'Manjal veyyil', a few ghazals, 'Chaie chapp Chaie', 'Yaadein' 'Roja Janeman' - He even got the audience to sing "Roooooooooja" bit along him.
The moment Hariharan mentioned Illayaraja, Harris Jeyaraj - one could hear semma whistles
Hariharankku O podunga from the crowd. During the time between two songs, this playback singer friend with me suddenly screamed "Poi sollakoodaadu... pleasee". Hariharan replied with a"Poi sonnengala?" and immediately sang a few lines from this hit song from Run. Though this song was not part of his songlist for the day, those two lines made my friend's day coz from the time I mentioned Hariharan's concert, the one question she kept asking for days was if Hariharan would sing "Poi sollakoodadu" .
The much awaited 'Vaaji vaaji' followed amidst loud "Once more"s; then came 'Kurukku siruttavalae','Pachai Nirame'... Hariharan concluded the concert with 'Bharat humko' - the Hindi version of Tamizha Tamizha. Would have loved it if he had sung the tamizh version which is more powerful - lyrics and renditionwise.
Half an hour into the concert and one could hear the audience cheer for someone who entered the auditorium then. It was Shankar Mahadevan, the special invitee! Shankar was invited on stage during the break by the organizers and he sang a few lines from the title track of Taare zameen par. Hariharan and Shankar Mahadevan on the same day at the same concert! Wow, what more could one have asked for? Sweeter than Chakkara pongal I say!
Most often, when I watch all me-too playback singers on TV/ stage- Haricharan, Saindavi, Madhumitha, Vinaya, Chinmayi and the likes [ who are seen more often judging / hosting song based shows than playback singing ], I am simply appalled by the abaswaram. These are fit to sing only within the four walls of a studio doing retake after retake. Despite the classical singing background most of them claim to have, none of these can create the magic a Hariharan /S P B/ Shankar Mahadevan or an Usha Uthup create on stage. These me-too playback singers should learn from stalwarts like Hariharan on the basics of singing on stage - clear pitching!
Hariharan left the audience- from a Bandra Sandra, Powai paaji to a Matunga mami & Chembur mama longing for more at the end of the two and a half hour concert with his masaledaar mix of ghazals, hindi numbers and tamizh paatus. I hope Times of India comes up with a Shankar Mahadevan - tamizh songs special for April 14th! That would be one concert I wouldn't want to miss!
Pongal vaazhtukkal to everyone. Pongal-O-Pongal!