If there was a single standout moment at the Global Citizen India Festival on Saturday evening, it was when the voices of the 80,000-strong audience that filled the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) grounds became one to sing along to Fix You, arguably Coldplay’s most sentimental hit.
“You have waited for us to come and perform in India for 16 years. You’ve been patient and beautiful,” said Chris Martin, frontman, Coldplay, at the band’s first-ever performance in India.
It was the grand finale and highlight of the festival that had been playing out on social media for the past few months, and finally culminated in a nearly nine-hour long power-packed show featuring performances by Jay-Z, Demi Lovato, The Vamps, A R Rahman and a host of Bollywood stars.
Sharing some of the spotlight, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a video address, made a reference to his demonetisation decision and quoted lines from Bob Dylan’s iconic song, “The times they are a-changin”.
“You have been smart in asking me to only address the gathering and not sing, else I’m pretty sure your audience would be asking you for their money back, and that too in Rs 100 notes,” he said in his opening remarks.
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On a more serious note, he asserted that he has public support for the “second cleanliness drive”, a reference to demonetisation.
“These days, whether it is the cleaning across the border or of the vaults full of black money, everything is going on in full swing… I am getting your invaluable support for the second cleanliness drive,” he said. “I am convinced that we can, and we will, build a Swachh Bharat, free of all forms of filth within one generation,” he said.
“I have had my own set of idols. But you will perhaps be more familiar with Bob Dylan, Norah Jones, Chris Martin and A R Rehman,” Modi said.
“So to quote from one of Dylan’s transformative anthems which holds as much meaning today as it did when it was first sung in the 1960. ‘Come mothers and fathers, throughout the land, and don’t criticise, what you cannot understand. Your sons and your daughters, are beyond your command. Your old roads rapidly agin’. Please get out of the new one, if you can’t lend your hand, for the times they are a-changin’,” said Modi.
“Elders must learn from these words of wisdom,” he said. “We better get out of the way as indeed the times they are a changin,” said Modi, as he exhorted the youth to “be the winds of change that are transforming our nation”.
The show began at 1:30 pm, with a group of children from underprivileged backgrounds taking the stage to sing John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’. Bollywood actors like Amitabh Bachchan, Sonakshi Sinha, Shraddha Kapoor, Farhan Akhtar and Ranveer Kapoor performed as well.
Hip-hop superstar Jay-Z performed for over 30 minutes and wowed the crowd with hits like Holy Grail, New York State of Mind, and Drunk in Love. A R Rahman performed electro-jazz versions of Humma Humma, Tu Hi Re and Dil Se.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Ratan Tata, Shah Rukh Khan, Vidya Balan, Sonam Kapoor and Sachin Tendulkar were among those who addressed the audience on sustainable development goals as envisioned by Global Citizen Initiative.
Coldplay came on stage a little after 8:30 pm and played for nearly 90 minutes, running through a track-list of their most popular songs such as Yellow, The Scientist, Paradise and Fix You, and pulling out all the stops to provide a visual spectacle complete with fireworks, balloons and confetti. The wait was worth it.