Musical Show “Endrendrum Raja” Brings Joy To The Audience And Hope To The Lives Of Kids
Musical Show “Endrendrum Raja” brings joy to the audience and hope to the lives of kids
With every passing year I feel Boston is getting better and better as far as Indian music is concerned. Whether it is classical music or Bollywood item numbers, our local musicians get together and produce shows that delight all music lovers. This October, a new milestone was reached with the first ever Ilayaraja show “Endrendrum Raja”. Designed as a tribute to Ilayaraja, the show sought to raise funds for Isha Vidhya — a nonprofit that helps set up schools in rural southern India and helps underprivileged children achieve and attain an education that will help equip them for a better future.
What makes a song by Ilayaraja so delightful is his magical way of bringing together the background music and voice till the two blend into one. This is what makes his songs difficult to reproduce too because the instrumentalists need to reproduce what several violinists, drummers, tabla players, keyboard experts produce together. Not an easy task. But the team of instrumentalists, Nikhil Pendharkar and Alden D'Souza on the keys, Manish Kurup and Angshuman Parashar on the lead and bass guitars, Shridhar Ganapuram on the drums, Pranav Ghatraju on the Tabla, were somehow able to recreate that magic. The singers, not to be outdone, matched up to the musicians and the result was an evening of melody, Raja style!
The force behind the musicians, Lata Vasanth, worked on the idea and pulled together the team that took it from dream to reality. Kudos to her for not only pulling off something so ambitious but being able to do it to live music.
One challenge in a show like this is the song selection. In spite of so many songs to pick from and such a diverse audience and the time constraint, the song selection was perfect. It covered everything right from the age old hit “Machanei Patheengala” from Annakili (Ilayaraaja's debut) to the playful “Ennamma Kannu Sowkyama”. While Uma Sankar sang Machanei Patheengala, she took the audience to the times when this song was on the lips of little kids to adults. The audience went wild and some started dancing – showing steps that you could only find in a Tamil movie!
Everyone in the audience had their personal favorites. Some broke into spontaneous applause when Priya Anand effortlessly sang to perfection the lilting notes of ‘sorgame endraalum’. Raghu matched her perfection with his and together they had the audience screaming ‘once more”. This song touched a nostalgic chord in all our hearts as it talks about ‘our city’ being even better than heaven.
Sudha Rao had the audience ooing and aahing when she came to the stage to sing madurai marikozhundhu, because apart from singing the very popular song well, she came dressed in a traditional saree worn rural tamil style. And Vasanth, not to be outdone, showed up in a traditional silk white-and-red dhothi, playing the role of the rural hero to the audience’s delight!
Vasanth’s ‘En Iniya Pon Nilaave’ from Moodupani, was another hit with the audience. His singing took us back to the days of Pratap Pothen, the hero of the movie. This song was a runaway hit for many, many years and Vasanth did full justice to it. As for the accompaniment for this song, I am still in awe of how the team managed to replicate the background music with so few musicians.
Sankar took all of us down memory lane with his flawless rendition of “Ilamaiyennum…” Those were heady days of Sridevi ruling the Tamil movie industry, before she moved away to Bollywood. The chorus girls did a great job supporting him for this song. Kudos to the accompanying musicians with a special shout out for the amazing performance on the keyboards.
No Ilayaraja concert can be complete without his super hit song pothi vecha and as expected it was on the list and was one of those songs that the audience demanded an encore for.
Other songs included aagaya vennilaave, valaiosai, raathiriyil poothirukkum, idhazhil kadhai ezhuthum, thendral vandhu, rum bam bam, pani vizhum, ooru sanam amongst others.
The hostesses of the evening, Anuradha Warrier and Bamiela Sankaran, kept the program flowing smoothly and gave the audience several little tidbits of information that made the evening even more enjoyable.
If I were to describe the evening in just two words, I would steal Raghu’s response to Vasanth when asked “Ennama Kannu Sowkyama”. Raghu looked through his super-cool sunglasses and said “SIMPLY FANTASTIC”.
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