Bollywood musicians slam UK fans walking out of Rahman concert
Academy Award-winning composer AR Rahman (above right) celebrated his 25 years in the music industry on July 8 with a concert in Wembley Arena, UK. However, some audience members walked out of his show in protest over Tamil songs being performed at the concert. This behaviour has been highlighted in recent reports that say some concertgoers are asking for a refund.
Clarifying the organisers’ position, Balaji Goverthanan, director of Hue Box Entertainment, tells us, “The Tamil name [of the concert] Netra Indra Naale was only mentioned on the Tamil channels… We never mentioned that we’d be playing only Hindi songs or only Tamil songs. Anyone who had bought the ticket and asked us this, we told them that it would be an equal mix.” He adds that the number of protesters is very small.
The published track list shows 16 full tracks in Hindi; 12 full Tamil tracks; and one medley with a mix of Tamil and Hindi. But one concertgoer tweeted: “That was my first ever Tamil concert guys. Albeit completely unintentional #ARRahman #SSEArena #Fail #Refund?”
This is “excessively entitled behaviour by the audience”, says singer Rabbi Shergill, who has worked with Rahman in the film Raanjhanaa. “How dare they walk out because he sang a couple of songs in Tamil?” Rabbi adds, “People feel they can dictate what they want to listen to — if that’s so, they might as well just listen to songs on their USB drive.”
Singer-composer Vishal Dadlani is “disappointed” that people have made this an issue, since “music is the universe’s first language”.
Singer Shaan points out, “You have to be open to not just language but the experience of listening live to someone. I can be sitting in Brazil and listening to a Spanish band... and I can’t expect a refund from there.” Shaan adds that it’s “very disrespectful and wrong” to assume that all of Rahman’s songs would be in Hindi.