Sunday, August 09, 2020

A Walk Down Rahman Lane by Rekha Bala

 If you are here for the first time, please read this post.


It was August 1992. I was hosting a walk-in music talent show as part of some youth group (whose name I don’t remember now). The show had started at 6pm and even though it was 8pm already, there was no sign of people backing off. Most of the talent was good, with an interesting array of songs I loved.

I didn’t have to do much, just announce the name of the singer/performer, name of the song/composition and say some encouraging words at the end. But beyond 8pm was getting a bit too much for me. I would have to ask one of the boys to walk me home. It was small-town Kochi after all, broken streetlights at most places, with incessant rain, and even though I had called home to say I would be late, there would be some displeasure at the end of it.


Before I would let the organisers know I was not staying on until eternity (which was where the show was heading), I was thrust a chit of paper by a young man. It said, “Kaadhal Rojave, A R Rahman”.

“Eh, What is this, Who is this? Why have I never heard of this song and music director before?” I thought. After all, my neighbourhood cassette shop would always alert my brother and I, the moment something new released. “Wait till I get to that Gujju tomorrow!” was my first reaction.


I had no choice but to let that young man go on stage. Didn’t have to blabber much as I had no clue who ARR was, or how colourful his Kaadhal was. When he went on stage, I stood by in the wings, and waited till the end, mesmerised.


“Thendral ennai theendinaal selai theendum nyaabagam
China pookkal paarkaiyil dhegam paartha nyaabagam
Velli odai pesinaal sonna vaarthai nyaabagam
Megam rendum sergaiyil mogam konda nyaabagam…”


Wait, what was this magic. And why can’t I move? When the song finished, there was an uproar. They had all become ARR fan-actics like me.


The next day, I went to the cassette shop, berated Sunilbhai and proceeded to play Roja on loop on our Philips Powerhouse till the entire neighbourhood started playing along. In college, where I was doing my second-year degree, we were humming either Chinna Chinna Aasai or Kaadhal Rojave in the corridors or the lawns and very often, groups would break out into ‘Sol, Sol’. By the time, the movie had released, and the rest, as they say, is history.


The only regret I have is my bff pipping me to interview ARR during a show in Muscat. I was in India during that time, missed both an interview and a show. But as they say, if it’s GOAT, good things will be come to those who wait.

About Rekha Bala

Rekha is a journalist who moved from Kochi to Bengaluru via Muscat. A huge music buff, Rekha reached out to me on twitter and shared her MemoiARR.
Thank you, Rekha and I hope the fellow ARR fan-atic in your family, your son, writes his MemoiARRs as well. Oh yes, Rekha, please do say Hello to ARR when you interview him soon.

Say hello to Rekha here.

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