Thoughts on The Unforgettable Tour: Live in L.A.

As I start writing, I'm tempted to move as Sameer did at the cafe (point 18 in this post) while singing "Hungama Hungaama, ho gaya hai humgaama!" :) The concert here last night was a fun and entertaining spectacle that lovers of Hindi cinema would love. Here are some highlights, as I try not to play spoiler to those who will be at the Tour stops over the next couple of weeks. All Unforgettable Week posts here, and a listing of songs performed to here. Pictures from the LA Times and official Tour website.


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. ;)


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 ;)

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?!

Honorable Mention
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!


Rahul said...

Thank you for the review. Sounds like fun! I'm looking even more forward to the show in London!!!

memsaab said...

I'd love to see one of these extravaganzas sometime...unfortunately they never get further north than NYC and NJ. Glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for sharing the experience!

jen said...

Fantastic website, and thank you, mera naya dost! SO great to meet you and I loved your review of the performance, and will eagerly await your "playlist" when the tour finally finishes (I knew probably 75% of the music/movies, but definitely need to fill in the blanks!) -

Sabina Huq said...

In true Indian style, the hour long anticipation of the show being late was totally and utterly made up by the phenomenal and unforgettable performances by Preity, Abhishek, Aishwarya, Madhuri and of course Big B. Never having noticed Riteish much before, I was pleasantly surprised by his performances. Vishal & Shekhar had the whole place rocking and even my husband (who never watches Bollywood movies and has no idea who half the actors are) immensely enjoyed this duo as well as the star-studded performances. Abhishek was by far my favorite! With his humorous delivery, distinctive facial expressions and audience interaction, he was definitely the star of the show for me! And put together, Aishwarya and Abhishek looked sooo good together, always smiling and simply having a whale of a time! Of course when Madhuri came on, I was so spellbound I forgot to clap. I think half the audience felt the same as the venue was awfully quiet at times. I just wish I had said hello to her three days ago when I saw her shopping for perfume with her husband at the Beverly Center Bloomingdales. Sadly we had the misfortune of sitting in front of a bunch of uncouth characters who were constantly yelling out comments and booing at all the performances other than Aishwarya’s. They had clearly only come to see her perform. Despite this, the show was a hugely enjoyable and truly unforgettable experience. I can't wait for it to come out on DVD so I can re-live the entire evening minus the buffoons. Just wish the A/C was on that's all....Big B, we all know you’re big (no pun intended) on global warming, but you could’ve afforded us the luxury of some air conditioning for us poor souls sweating buckets way up in the back there.

Anonymous said...

I went and the show was good and all, but it was clearly targeted for the people on the floor. On times I felt that do they really care for those of us who are sitting in the back? What did you think?

Anonymous said...

I agree with your review. I was at the Show in Oakland. Again, I was not sure why the show started a hour late. The coordination of the entire entry was all over the place.
Overall the show was worth it.

theBollywoodFan said...

Thank you all for your comments!

Rahul: Enjoy the show in London! I know it's about a month away, but it'll be worth it, especially at the Millennium Dome!

Memsaab: Thank you. I know exactly how you feel. It was probably worse while I was in Miami (given I even had to consider driving to Orlando for Taare Zameen Par in theaters, let alone a concert). The Asha Bhosle concert was an exception. I guess the move to LA is working out?! :)

Jen: Thank *you* dost! It was a privilege to have met. I'll send you the playlist when I have it typed.

Sabina: Sorry to hear about your encounter with the troublemaker Ash fans, but glad you enjoyed the show as well. I wanted to yell out to Madhuri, but like you, was mesmerized beyond words and rather tongue-tied, to be honest, lol. You should have gone over to say hi to Madhuri when you were so close at Bloomingdales!

It'll definitely be worth having on DVD should they choose to release it (would be interesting to see how they price it). And I'm with you on the ventilation in the arena being substandard, to say the least.

Anonymous 1: Agreed on the show being targeted primarily to the people on the floor. They received feedback on this after the Toronto show, and one would think they would slightly modify things, but I guess five days weren't enough!

Anonymous 2: Clearly, the logistics could have been handled better, and although the show started late, it was probably the best thing to do after poor management at the gates meant that the people weren't going to get to the seats until at least 45 minutes after the scheduled start.

As you say, overall, the show was well worth it.

Anonymous said...

Adab Nawab!
What a comprehensive post! Fantastic photos too! I like your point about the ignoring of the Khans but then it sort of backfiring in a way with the enthusiam over Vishal-Shekhar's (they are so cute!)Om Shanti Om. Bollywood reflects the world I suppose in rivalry, but that's just silly and in their obvious ignoring the Khans, they actually pay them more attention, na? I'll just tell them what I've seen in so many movies: "Hey guys, this is India, this is OUR country! Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Nahin! Hindustani!"

Love what you said on 8.
"I longed for more Indian music and more Indian dress." And too bad they put Madhuri-ji in that unacceptble attire. That's a shame and a waste!

I especially loved your tribute to the Abi-snarl. So uncool trying to act cool. Great snaps of that!

All the best!

theBollywoodFan said...

Adab Sita-ji! Thanks for your comment, and again, thanks for chairing the great discussion on the tour at this link:

Agreed about the ignoring of the 'other camp' backfiring. Ditto to the 'Hindustani' comment!

I was somewhat disappointed with the Madhuri attire, of course. Although she somewhat made up for it with Dola Re Dola at the end.

And that Abhi-snarl...I kept hoping he would just behave like Bunty. Oh wait, maybe he wore than there too, but I wish he would at least look like he was behaving natural and having fun at it, which I think he did in Bunty Aur Babli.

Thanks again. We'll be talking.


ajnabi said...

Wow, thank you for the detailed review--it was almost like being there! Well, not quite. It sounds like so much fun, though--well worth the price of admission. :-)

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Ajnabi: Thanks for your comment. It was a lot of fun, and as I said (point 1), even just the Amitabh segment was worth it!


Nida said...

Great blog! Thank you for the review-it was very entertaining and informative. I'm seriously debating spending $200 on not so great seats and taking a train to Chicago to watch it by myself!

I just started watching Madhuri films(new Bollywood fan that I am), and I was just thinking to myself the other day, "Wow, she really pulls off a sari"...and I figured since she is wearing them most of the time that this must be the image her fans love. So I can imagine how frustrating that must have been!

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Nida: Thank you for your comment! Glad you enjoyed it.

Madhuri's been emblematic of the 'Indian woman' for so long...and yes, her fans absolutely love her in the avatar we think she best fits.

Good luck with your decision, and take care :)


prochy said...

Hi BF, your review of the 'Unforgettable Tour' was hilarious. I split my sides laughing at Abhi's expression in those pics. Did you take them all yourself? As far as the outfits are concerned, I totally agree with you.With all the skimpy outfits which most Bollywood heroines wear nowadays, (the Unforgettable tour is just one more example), there's absolutely nothing to distinguish them from the vamps. Jayaji, as befitting her years was quite demurely dressed in her (shocking) pink saree - a welcome change from what she was wearing when she was last seen at Mumbai airport - a long kurta, a chunky maala around the neck, with her 'reshmi zulfey' flowing and a wild expression in her eyes, (no 'sharbati aankhen') as aagyakari bahu Ash, put a protective arm around her to sheild her from all the nasty photographers and reporters. Looked as if she had just stepped out of some yogi's ashram. Btw, is there no end to your talents? Have yet to come across someone as mult-faceted as you. Loved the drawing you have made and put up on your blog. Can't stop myself from saying 'Waah, Kya Taaj Hai!' Until next time, Prochy.

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Prochy! Hope you are well. Thank you for your comment. As noted, the pictures are from the Los Angeles Times and Amitabh Bachchan's blog. They are telling, aren't they! :)

I'm with you about the outfits. I'm not sure whether it has more to do with Bollywood trying to compete with Hollywood (a waste, in my opinion), just trying to look 'modern', or trying to appeal to the youth among the NRI crowd. Whatever the case, there's something missing in that version of Bollywood.

That's an interesting incident at the Mumbai airport!

And thank you for your kind words on the drawing (in this post). 'Waah, Kya Taaj Hai' would definitely be a good title for it, no?

Have a great one. And thanks again for stopping by.

Best wishes!

Anonymous said...

Were cameras allowed in the hall??

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Anonymous: Yes, cameras were allowed. Have fun! And thanks for stopping by!