1. Amitabh Bachchan:
He made this show tick. No question about it. With fantastic performances, he took over the stage each time he was on. He even delivered dialogues from some of his hits from the 1970s. Those 10 minutes or so alone were worth the price of admission. Hats off, Amit-ji!
[Aside: I know I was expecting too much, hoping he would deliver this three-word sentence: Atthaarasau teraanwe, Champaner (1893, Champaner). Silly me... :o)]
The applause Mr. Bachchan received (by far the most thunderous) from his first stint to his last, warranted this, from his latest blog post:
What an audience ! What a show ! What response ! Simply incredible !
It has been the best ever for me. And all the credit goes to the the utterly fantastic fans and audience at the LA Sports Arena, that packed the venue right up to the rafters and just egged and shouted and screamed us into a performance that all of us will remember for a lifetime.
2. Madhuri Dixit's greeting:
The only greeting that was uniquely Indian. In one sentence (in Hindi, and then some translated in English) she reminded us of her appeal, and of why most movie lovers are still fascinated with her and her personality. As daughter, sister, lover, mother...there was hardly a chord she didn't strike with that one sentence. Of course, her dancing skills were a highlight.
2 (cont'd). Madhuri Dixit:
Thank you, Madhuri!
3. The Entertainment:
They could have put together a show with a much shorter run-time, and most would have still been satisfied. At close to three hours, the show provided non-stop entertainment, filled with color and music. The songs were splendid, and I even documented all but one song that they performed to (that one song was in a language from South India). Of course, Amitabh was second to none on this front.
4. Riteish Deshmukh:
In what was a surprise to me, Riteish was perhaps the best entertainer (and had the best presence) after Amitabh and Madhuri. If you've seen some of the shows he's hosted, expect him to recycle some lines. But if this was the first time you listened to him, you will get the jokes and laugh to them. Well done Mr. Deshmukh!
5. Jaya Bachchan:
She shared the most valuable and unforgettable message, and sadly earned the most forgettable applause of the night. Here she is (pink saree):
6. There is one 20-25 minute showcase in the second half of the show that was simply fantastic. More after the last stop of the Tour.
7. The Khans:
The rivalry between the Bachchans and the Khans has been very well documented over the past couple of years. I believe there is some truth to it. But maan gaye Shah Rukh. And maan gaye Salman. The two were present in spirit, I tell you. In all the references made by the stars, not one was to any of the Khans (there were plenty to Akshay Kumar, Hrithik Roshan, John Abraham, and the like). Yet, the song that most involved the near capacity crowd was ironically the title song from Om Shanti Om (performed by Vishal-Shekhar).
As fans of Hindi cinema, we really cannot take away from Madhuri, Aishwarya, or Preity, the numerous hits they've acted in opposite Shah Rukh or Salman. And the show couldn't either, for those hits were highlights of their careers. The tunes most instantly recognized by the crowd fell in this category. Again, the Bachchan clan (expectedly) did not even mention them...they just used their songs, one after another. So this is a well deserved shout out in my opinion, and only fair.
And I have always been very critical of Shah Rukh as an actor and all, but after this show, Shah Rukh, I appreciate you and your popularity much more. Maan gaye Shah Rukh. Someone give this man a blue shirt with a red 'S' (or a cape from Baazigar) for what he's accomplished. Wish he made better movies. ;)
THE (SOMEWHAT) FORGETTABLE
8. The wardrobe:
The biggest injustice you can do to fans of Madhuri Dixit is to take away from her the traditional Indian dress. The show sadly did that, and we were left with only one (maybe two) songs in which Madhuri wasn't clad in a cross between what Michael Jackson wore on the cover of the music album 'Bad' and what Amitabh Bachchan wore on the cover of the movie Shahenshah. Variations of the outfit were worn by Amitabh, Abhishek, Riteish, and Aishwarya throughout the evening.
But it wasn't just this one outfit that bugged me. Over 60% of the show featured the cast trying hard (and well) to compete with a Hollywood production. And while that would be worth admiring for some, I longed for more Indian music and more Indian dress. Come to think of it, I long for that from most Bollywood movies today too. That combination finally dominated the last 45 minutes and was phenomenal, but surely deserved more attention.
This was also more telling of the Hollywood-ization of Bollywood, and worried me more than Disney being sold merely distribution rights (as opposed to production rights) for the Taare Zameen Par DVD.
I attended the show with an executive of a fashion enterprise in Southern California, and he agreed. Is it not only fair to want to see Aishwarya in this than in one of those outfits from Dhoom 2?
And Preity Zinta looked very cool here, as opposed to in #12 below:
9. Event logistics at the L.A. Sports Arena:
If you've been to a sports event anywhere in the U.S., you know what separates event management in this country from the rest of the world is efficiency of operations. Sadly, the way this was handled was downright poor. Almost all attendees who were in line to enter the arena shared this sentiment. No surprise, then, that the show started about an hour later than scheduled. The staffing at the event was woefully inadequate, and as an avid sports fan, I was dismayed. (The Arena is, I believe, used frequently for basketball games.)
10. Abhishek Bachchan's inability to even forge a genuine smile. This was the expression he wore all night (he's also taught this to his wife, which doesn't make things any better):
Here he is again:
And again (yawn...):
11. Aishwarya Rai trying to say the word 'inimitable' three times before going with 'impossible to imitate'. I'm signing people up at our local Toastmasters chapter ;)
12. Preity Zinta, while thanking her costume designer for some last-minute assistance, saying, "I wouldn't have any clothes to wear...". And here's why people like Mallika Sherawat or Rakhi Sawant have a place in the industry...I'm also signing up people at a local gym ;)
DEFINITELY MORE UNFORGETTABLE
Overall, a show that provided some excellent, excellent entertainment. Thoroughly enjoyed it! It was well worth looking forward to and experiencing! I don't see how a fan of Bollywood would not enjoy it. Amitabh and Madhuri are two of Bollywood's finest, and they have earned the right to name this show rather cleverly -- after all, how could this not be unforgettable?!
The woman pictured to the left of Amitabh was very likely the hardest working in the show. She was part of most dance sequences, and tirelessly accompanied them all on stage, while performing really really well. You won at least one fan, Deeba! :) And as I finish, Tere Ishq Mein Naachenge from Raja Hindustani just shuffled in. What an appropriate song for the picture! Have a good start to the week, everyone!