A small smile cringed the corners of the face of music legend A R Rahman as he played the first note of his unforgettable song, ‘Dil se re…’ and a loud cheer went up from the audience.
With revelers singing along with every line, be it ‘Jo Bhi Main’ from Rockstar to ‘Rehna Tu’ from Delhi 6, the smile soon turned into a constant blush.
The universal appeal of music to all couldn’t have been more evident at any other place other than the Bacardi NH7 Weekender festival that wrapped up on Sunday evening at Laxmi Lawns in Magarpatta, with the music maestro bowing down to the audience in gratitude – one that represented all ages and all classes. From kurta clad officegoers to skimpily-clothed teenagers dancing next to middle-aged couples, the entry of well-known and some long-missed Indian acts made the weekender a treat for the desi audiences. A R Rahman, who made his debut at the Weekender this year was the biggest draw with the stage arena filling out by 6 pm, far ahead of his performance at 8.30pm. As he stepped onto the stage, every inch of the space was taken up with audiences filling out as well.
While Rahman was definitely the big act of the year, Day 3 also saw some memorable performances by acts like Shillong-based Soulmate, whose powerful female lead singer held the audiences tightly in her grip while Raghav Sachar held a special treat for the revelers as he revealed his feminine side – by singing in a male and female voice both and his special song, Charsi, dedicated to his audience.
While another big name, Flying Lotus, was scheduled around the same time as Rahman, who stole the show a bit from the former, another mistake was the distance between the two stages. “In fact, we faced a similar problem on Day 2 as well. We were at Vishal Dadlani’s performance and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and the sound from the act by Nucleya which was really loud overlapped into it, which spoiled the experience for us,” said Hussein Kachwalla. Though the art installations were sorely missed, the appearance of drone cameras on Day 3 were welcomed whole-heartedly by the audience. Meanwhile, one thing was clear at the festival – international acts have a select audience while desi ruled the hearts of all. From Rahman to Baba Sehgal, Raghu Dixit, Neeta Mohan to Dadlani, it was the Indian acts which drew the maximum crowds. Music with a conscience was clearly the underlying theme of this year’s weekender festival. From guitarist Baiju Dharmajan coaxing revelers to do more for Chennai than just changing their profile pictures to Vishal Dadlani dedicating his one-hour set to the drowning city as an appeal for empathy, the people of Chennai were at the top of mind for the performing artistes. However, politics and current affairs weren’t far. From Vir Das writing a song on the various bans that the country such as pornography and Swarathma’s song ‘Topiwale’ on politicians, the songs were written to make a point.