They say music transcends all barriers but when composer AR Rahman performed Tamil songs at his UK show, Hindi-speaking concertgoers reportedly staged a walkout.
The show, titled “Netru Indru Nalai” (“Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow”), took place at the SSE Arena in London’s Wembley Stadium on July 8.
The members of the audience took to the social media to express their disappointment and displeasure, when Rahman and his troupe performed numbers, mostly in the Tamil language.
Renowned as the “Mozart of Madras”, Rahman was joined onstage by singers Benny Dayal, Javed Ali, Neeti Mohan, Haricharan, Jonita Gandhi and Ranjit Barot.
The gig was presented by Hamsini Entertainment, UK and HueBox Entertainment, India.
Some of the users on Twitter complained that they felt duped by the organisers, as they were promised the performances would be in Hindi and Urdu.
“#ARRahman concert: Never seen so much #disappointment & #masswalkouts. Approx one per cent of songs in Hindi.
#ssearena filled on #falseadvertising,” one of the users tweeted.
Another tweeple expressed his displeasure that the show failed to impress the fans and how he felt let down by Rahman.
“#ARRahman very disappointed with the concert tonight in Wembley. Waited for a very long time to be disappointed. Not expected from a legend,” he wrote.
This user was shocked to have attended what he called “the first Tamil concert of his life” and asked for a refund.
“That was my first ever Tamil concert guys. Albeit completely unintentional #ARRahman #SSEArena #Fail #Refund?”
It is the same digital platform that got one of its major viral music videos, actor Dhanush’s “Kolaveri Di”, despite the hookline being in Tamil.
However, the furore over Rahman’s concert ended up fanning the persisting language divide between the North and the South.
Rahman, who will next perform at the 18th edition of IIFA to celebrate 25 years of his musical journey, was defended by his fans-followers and celebrities alike.
South Indian singer Chinmayi Sripada also took to Twitter where she came out in support of the award-winning composer by tagging the outrage by the fans as another show of intolerance and double standards.
“When Rahman sir wins 2 Oscars and creates history, he is ‘An Indian’, but 7-8 Tamil gaane kya gaa liye aap naraaz hote ho (all this furore over playing 7-8 Tamil songs?). What yaar?
“The show was called ‘Netru Indru Naalai’, had 65 per cent, 6 Hindi songs (Set List is out there). Music knows no boundaries/ language.
“Chase the American dream, your kids can (speak) Spanish; Live in the UK that once colonised India – but cry foul when you hear Tamil songs,” wrote Sripada, who has sung “Tere Bina” from “Guru” in which Rahman gave the music.
Mocking the Hindi-speaking crowd, stand-up comic Aravind SA did a wordplay on the line from Rahman’s Academy Award- accepting speech, where he thanked The Almighty for his win.
He wrote, “If AR Rahman won his Oscar today, I’m pretty sure some people would have wanted him to say – ‘Sab Pugal Bhagwan ke liye’.”
This followed another series of tweets by his fans standing by the musician, calling out Northerners efforts to impose Hindi as a language in South.
“AR Rahman performs Tamil songs, didn’t perform any in Hindi. Not able to tolerate an hour of music in another language #stopHindiImposition,” read a tweet.
“ARRahman SINGS a lot of Tamil songs and suddenly all HINDI folks erupt, lol guys that’s the same feel when your want your HINDI all over South,” wrote another user.