Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Goa ahaaaaa!

A two day marathon location hunt 10 years ago, a three day non-stop shoot six years, a two day holiday last year where I fell ill plus the non-stop "Yo baby, let's rock eeet at Goa" kinda french-bearded advertising junkies' nonstop nonsense talk made me hate Goa and I was one of the very few who sighed at the very mention of Goa, followed by a "What funnnnnn man!!".

Not anymore.

We - some 15 of us from office were in Goa for two and a half days on an 'official' break. It was not easy for all the RJs, show and promo producers, writers to go on an official holiday - not for a radio station that works 24*7 with live shows on from Monday to Saturday. Hats off to the entire team that worked round-the-clock and created a Goa feel for promos on air. Even the songs for the three days had to be 'Goan'ised.

After hours of dumb charades, gossip, songs and dance galatta in the Konkan Kanya Mandovi express we reached Goa by 12 noon. An elaborate lunch and laughter session followed at Infantaria and we headed to the Baga beach in the evening. Dinner at a beach side shack was simply superb. Some of us headed to the pool table where the rest of the junta played pool for some time. It was DJ Nikhil Chinnappa [yes, the MTV guy] at Mambo's who completed our mad evening at Goa with some kuttu dance from us. The best aspect of Nikhil's DJ-ing was his ever smiling face and he posed for umpteen pictures entertaining the crowd out there. "This is not trance.. this is not fusion.. not even techno.. It is electric... Electric is back!" he said. "Whatever!" we said. Honestly, I do not know the difference between trance / techno / electric etc. but DJ Nikhil at Mambo's was mindblowing. Back in the hotel at 3 am, some of us craved for coffee and headed to Coffee day. Where else but in Goa would you find a Coffee day open at 3 o' clock or a 24 hour Subway joint?

The next day started with breakfast at 1 pm and the bestestest part of Goa happened... a 15 member team on 8 bikes travelled 40 kms from Bagaa to the Tiracol Fort. It took us 2 1/2 hours to travel to Tiracol only because we ended up waiting for one another, some of us lost our way and headed to some beach. My bikemate and I went mad singing songs - I would sing in Tamizh and she sang the same number in Hindi. Our fellow bikers were quite harrassed with this double torture from us. We ferried our bikes to Tiracol and the view from the fort was amazing. Headed back to Bagaa to join our boss for dinner at Fiesta. This is a magical place where no two tables look alike - be it the chairs or upholstery. The food wasn't all that great but thanks to a crack-a-PJ-every-second colleague we had a lot of fun. The fun did not stop here. Some of us headed to the famous Ingo's Saturday Night bazaar. It seemed like one night was not enough to roam around this shoppers' paradise . We bought bags, T-shirts, jewellery and a whole lot of stuff. Back to the hotel at 4am, asusual some of us were hungry and headed to a nearby dhaba for some yummy food.

The next day..ie. afternoon was spent at the beach, water scootering. I was laughing non-stop after the adventure because it was a complete roller coaster ride... It was time to leave Goa and we were very sure we were going to miss the train and were damn thrilled that we'd get to spend the evening in Goa if we missed the train. On our way to the station, we received an SMS from boss which said "Guys, if you miss the train, take the bus and report to work tomorrow morning. No exceptions" Sigh! We rushed to the next station where the train had a stopover and managed to get into the train... Not before an elaborate lunch and laughter session at the station.

We were not at all happy about getting back to Mumbai and reporting to work on a Monday morning but we had to.Sigh! such is life, dearies!

Highlights of the trip

1. The train catering: Neatly packed in casseroles, the food was hot, tasty... no watery dal, no oily gravies... tasted like home food and we didn't have to do an Anniyan in any of the stations.

2. Veggie food: Goa is a sea-food lovers' paradise. But there was no problem in any of the restaurants for a hardcore vegetarian like me.
3. Roomie: I am extremely choosy about the people I stay with. Late nights with "I-am-so-upset..Life is bad" kinda self-pity stuff bugs me. Thankfully, my roomie was a non-fussy person. We had a helluva time shopping... singing songs on our bike ride... laughing! Thank you, Ms.A.

4. Bikes : I am a two wheeler lover. More than 100 kms in two and a half days was free....dom from crowded trains, perennial traffic jams in Mumbai.
I have already made my next holiday plan with my purushan. Bagaa, here we come!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Pongal with Hariharan

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!