First things first, congratulations to Mojo Projects for pulling off Retro Rahman: A Tribute – the concert that is currently the talk of the town!

Needless to say, Retro Rahman: A Tribute was a sold out concert, and we’re not surprised. With names like Unnikrishnan, Unni Menon, Harini, Haripriya, and Anil Srinivasan set to grace the stage, it was bound to be a sell-out concert peppered with nostalgia, childhood flashbacks, and unforgettable memories.

Honestly, this article started as a ‘top 5’ (I know right, what was I even thinking?), then turned into ‘top 8’, ‘top 10’, and now ‘top 12’. It’s so hard to condense a magical night of Rahman hits into 12 points, but I will try my best! Let’s go:

  1. Anil Srinivasan grooming Aanantha to become a hero

First of all, can I just say what a fantastic pianist Anil Srinivasan is? He makes playing the piano look so easy, like eating a cake. His fingers effortlessly pranced on the keyboard, he didn’t even have to look. Heck, he even played the piano with a blindfold on at one point.

Anil’s witty comebacks, coupled with THR Aanantha‘s wit and humour, made the jamming session a delight to watch. Anil said Aanantha already has the looks and the voice, so he will ‘help’ to groom Aanantha into a hero. Anil got the audience to cheer “Aanantha we love you,” and assigned some ‘heroic’ songs for him.

Aanantha went on to serenade the crowd with some retro hits like “En Kaathaley”, “Attrangkaare Marame”, and “Oruvan Oruvan”. He ended the jamming session with “Sakthi Kodu”, and then made way for the main acts.

2. Haripriya’s beautiful rendition of ‘Chinna Chinna Aasai’ and ‘Sowkiyama Kanne’

The beautiful, young, and talented Haripriya took the stage and immediately cheered up the crowd – before silencing them with her beautiful rendition of “Chinna Chinna Aasai”. Her bubbly personality synced perfectly well with song.

Haripriya also wowed the crowd with “Sowkiyama Kanne”, the very song that impressed music maestro AR Rahman and shot her to fame. Her vocals were beautiful and her voice control was beyond amazing. Not exaggerating, but it really felt like she’s a Harini-in-the-making. So much talent!

3. Unnikrishnan kicking off his set with ‘Roja’

I honestly don’t know how to write this article without being biased towards my childhood crush, Unnikrishnan. The moment he walked on stage, everyone lost their composure and started cheering before they even knew what he was going to sing.

And to rile up at the crowd even more, Unnikrishnan started off with “Roja Roja”, a crowd favourite. I can’t even begin to tell you how perfect his performance was – his smooth vocals sailed across the hall and everyone’s jaws dropped at the sound of his impeccable performance.

4. Unnikrishnan and Harini singing ‘Poovukkul’

So, once I was 8 years old and watching Jeans at home. Right after Visu apologised to Madhumita, the scene cut to a song. Not just any song, but perhaps one of the greatest love songs ever. Here’s where the magic that was “Poovukkul” happened. I was enthralled by how good Prashanth and Aiswarya Rai looked in the song. But much, much more than that, I was captivated by the vocals that was giving life to the song. I asked my dad who was singing.

“That’s Unnikrishnan and Harini,” he said.

“Oh okay. I hope one day I meet this Unnikrishnan and he sings Poovukkul in front of me,” I told him nonchalantly.

I have nothing much to say except the fact that I literally started shaking and squealing when my 20-year fantasy turned into reality right in front of me. It’s priceless – sitting there, watching Unnikrishnan and Harini sing my favourite song ever.

After the song, Unnikrishnan kicked it up a notch by calling the Malaysian audience his “athisayam”. Aww!

5. Aanantha and Harini’s duet was <3

This one caught all of us by surprise! We were only told that Aanantha will be jamming with Anil Srinivasan at the start of the concert – we had no idea about any duets. Well played, Mojo, well played.

We all knew that Aanantha could sing, but we didn’t expect to hear his vocals complementing Harini’s voice so well. Aanantha wowed us with his performance of the 1996 classic, “Telephone Manipol”, along with Harini. Later, he exceeded our expectations once again when he pulled off SPB’s part in Padaiyappa’s “Suthi Suthi Vandhighe”. So proud of our Malaysian talent rocking the stage!

6. When Unni Menon sang ‘Poongratriley’ and it was perfect

How is it that Unni Menon’s voice sounds exactly the same as I heard it almost 20 years ago? It’s as if he keeps his voice in a freezer and only takes it out whenever there’s a performance.

Another thing about Unni Menon is that he’s so chill when he sings. He’s just standing there, one hand on the mic and the other hand by his side. He looks all calm and cool, but then this voice comes out – a voice so powerful that just drills into your soul. Whether it’s “Poongratriley”, “Nathiye Nathiye”, or “Puthu Vellai Malai” – whenever Unni Menon took the mic, he commanded the hall with calm persona and piercing voice.

7. When Unni Menon said the audience should audition for AR Rahman

One of the things that all three stars; Unni Menon, Unnikrishnan, and Harini kept reiterating was the fact that the audience were so receptive. They loved how the crowd sang along to every song, and even providing back-up vocals in the right key. At one point, Unni Menon was so impressed with the audiences’ singing that he said he wanted to bring all of us back with him to audition for AR Rahman!

8. Unni Menon’s cute dances in songs

I’m sorry, but you had to be there for this one. There’s no way I can describe how cute Unni Menon looked when he kept doing little dances in all the songs he sang. The highlight was probably when he danced to Prabhu Deva’s part in “Ooh La La La” from Minsara Kanavu. 

9. When we realised that this is the first time ever that Unnikrishnan and Unnimenon are performing together – in 26 years!

Yes, that’s right. The two legends, Unnikrishnan and Unni Menon are close friends and have been performing for ages – but never once sang together on the same stage. But thanks to Mojo Projects, it finally happened. 

The two took this opportunity to tell the audience that they are super close friends, and how their wives are even closer and hang out all the time. Unni Menon also shared a couple of anecdotes about how they get mistaken for each other all the time at airports and during meet and greet sessions.

“No, for the last time, I did not sing Ennavale,” Unni Menon joked.

10. When Harini sang ‘Nila Kaigirathu’ and we all lost it

WHAT. A. VOICE. Seriously. WHAT. A. VOICE.

Every time Harini sang or even said anything, I got goosebumps. It’s so unfair that she has such an extraordinary voice.

When Harini sang “Hello Mr. Ethirkachi”, we were already super stoked. When she sang “Kannalane” from Bombay, the crowd went crazy. Chills. When she sang “Nila Kaigirathu”, everyone just fell back on their chair and went speechless.

I mean, it’s one thing to hear it on the radio or YouTube, and completely different to hear it live. She sounded divine. So divine that I could listen to that voice forever. We don’t deserve you, Harini, we really don’t.

11. Nikhil on the flute who drove all the girls insane

You probably didn’t see this name on the poster, but this man almost stole the show. Nikhil is part of the Cochin Band and was in charge of woodwind at the concert – and he did a terrific job! So much so that every time he picked up the flute, the crowd would go crazy and give him a huge round of applause. We even heard girls screaming “Nikhil I LOVE YOU” from every corner. After the show, everyone ran towards him to take selfies. Now, who said you had to play a guitar to get the girls? You rock, Nikhil-on-the-flute!

12. Epic closing!

An epic closing seems to be the standard practice at all Mojo Concerts – and we love it! Unni Menon took the stage and called everyone to the front. “We’re going to sing Dandiya, please come and dance,” he said, and the crowd went wild. Everyone raced to the front and danced like no one was watching. Girls, boys, young, old, everyone was there having the time of their lives.

After that number, Unnikrishnan, Harini, Haripriya, and Aanantha joined Unni Menon and kept the crowd going with more classic hits like “Urvasi”, “Ooh La La La”, “Humma, Humma” and “Mustafa”.

The night ended on a high – and we can’t thank Mojo enough for the epic concert. We’re already excited for the next event – MILFF 2018 on the MainStage – bring it on!

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