The Final Analysis: The Unforgettable Tour

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Posted on July 19th, 2008 in Features, News, PastEvents, Stars

Note: If you do not wish to read spoilers regarding the ‘Unforgettable Tour’ do NOT read on! Also, this is an audience member’s account of the show and is largely opinionated.

The Background

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For fans living abroad , Bollywood really is a big deal. For some, it is a chance to connect with something special back home or just get in touch with our culture in some way or another. In fact, many would say that fans abroad are even crazier than the ones back in Mumbai. So whenever a world tour decides to touch upon several cities across the globe, crowds go wild. And you can see why! We watch their movies all the time, see them on screen, but we live halfway around the world from them. For this reason, when they descend upon our city for one night, we want to make the most of it.

In the past, Bollywood tours have come around as much as twice a year, but these days we’re lucky to get a concert every other year. The logistics of a show have changed—more money is required, better venues, more promoters, etc. Wizcraft Entertainment has tried to make the Unforgettable Tour slightly different from the rest by including several special appearances around the globe while underlining an important environmental cause along the way.

While analyzing this concert, I’m going to look at it as a fan rather than some sort of crazy-anal critic because at the end of the day, I am a Bollywood fan and nothing more and this is precisely the reason that I attended the show.

The Breakdown

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Let me just start off by saying that I had a FANTASTIC time at the premiere show in Toronto last night! The energy was unbelievable, the performers were almost legendary and the show was on fire. The problem is, if you ask someone who wasn’t sitting in the floor seats, they would have a different story to tell. In fact, some people I know decided to sit in the regular seats rather than purchasing floor seats (the price is ridiculous!) and after the show while I was gushing about how much I loved it, they were telling me how crappy they thought it was. This is because of the simple fact that the show seemed designed for those members of the audience who paid a lot of money to sit on the floor, while the entire upper audience was neglected (which is the majority of the auditorium!). No effort was made to interact with them and they were almost disregarded while the front audience got immense attention!

All the stars performed extremely well (more on that later) and were full of energy, but there were times that you wish they had interacted with the audience more. Unlike Akshay Kumar who was literally one with the audience, stars like Preity Zinta and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan performed beautifully and then just left the stage, which was a tad disappointing.

Another personal problem I had with the show was that I felt they missed out on performing some really great numbers from their films and I wish they had all paired up more. For example, Akshay only had one solo act and he didn’t pair up with any star to perform his other songs.

However, I have to say it was a great initiative taken by Wizcraft to highlight environmental concerns during the tour—it made it seem like the tour was created for something more than just money (which it probably wasn’t!). It was an extremely effective way to target thousands of people and forcing them to watch because their stars are advocating the cause, even though this sounds very superficial.

Also, I just want to add that the show was NOT SOLD OUT like the promoters are claiming! The floor was sold out, but there were loads of seats at the top and most people I talked to say the show was probably 70% sold out at best. But it really doesn’t matter how many people are there, what matters is how many people enjoy it.

The Performers

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By far, one of the main highlights of the show was Akshay Kumar who was an exclusive addition to the Toronto show. He has this way of really getting involved in the audience and causing the energy level to skyrocket. He performed to songs from ‘Singh is Kinng’, ‘Heyy Babyy’ and naturally danced to ‘Hare Ram’ from ‘Bhool Bhulaiyya’. He came down from the stage several times to interact with the audience and also brought people up on stage. The only problem was that he didn’t have enough time on stage because he was a “special appearance” and he got a 20 or 30 minute solo act and that’s about it! But still, a brilliant performer!

Amitabh Bachchan was absolutely legendary. When you’re watching him, it’s hard to believe that you may never see him do this kind of show live again. And that in itself is an extraordinary feeling! His sections focused mainly on his older songs, which I felt was extremely appropriate because those are the songs that made him famous. He sang about 4-5 of his biggest hits and later on the other stars each performed a song from one of his films. However, the BEST part was when he recited famous dialogues from his films. Man, you could literally see the intensity in his eyes. In fact, he started getting tears in his eyes when reciting a dialogue from ‘Deeewar’. His energy and vibe was inimitable and he brought an entirely new dimension to the stage.

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Abhishek Bachchan was fantastic for his first world tour. He did all of his hit tracks from films like ‘Bunty aur Babli’, ‘Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna’, ‘Rakht’, ‘Dus’ and many more but the best part was when he performed his father’s ‘Khaike Paan’ from the original Don! Here’s another performer who is really good with the audience and it wasn’t until he came on stage that the energy level really peaked. He was so comfortable; it never looked like he was trying too hard.

When Aishwarya Rai Bachchan takes the stage, you can always expect a fabulous dance if nothing else. That’s exactly what she brought to the table—extremely graceful performances to some of her hit tracks including those from ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’ and ‘Dhoom 2’. However, one wishes she performed to more of her popular songs like ‘Salaam’ and some from ‘Devdas’ because she stuck to the same films which was a tad disappointing. And my oh my, has she gained weight or what? I’m sorry to sound so superficial and cruel, but she didn’t look like the Aishwarya we recently saw in Jodhaa Akbar! Nevertheless, she looked beautiful and danced like a dream.

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You couldn’t help but smiling when Preity Zinta performed because you could tell she was having loads of fun. She performs with a big smile that’s infectious and I was so extremely thrilled to see her perform ‘Bhumbro’ because I’ve always felt she was amazing in that song. The only problem was that none of the ladies were very interactive with their audience and only spoke for about a minute and that’s it. It would really have been nice to see them sink their teeth into the concert and let us feed off their energy.

Most were surprised to see that Ritesh Deshmukh was so charismatic on stage. He really did have some awesome songs to perform, my favourite being Amitabh’s ‘Chumma De’ number which was my all-time favourite as a child.

Vishal and Shekhar also had loads of energy, but there were times when they got so loud we couldn’t hear them!

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The Performances and Technicalities

Each and every dance was awe-inspiring in terms of choreography—Shiamak Davar really outdid himself with this tour. You could see the effort that went into each and every number from the actors to the extraordinary background dancers. Special mention goes to the costumes which were outstanding. My favourite had to be the costumes during Amitabh’s ‘Rang Barse’ which were stunning.

Generally, the show was very well organized considering the fact that it actually started ON TIME which is a relatively new concept for Bollywood shows! I personally felt that the show flowed well, but I heard other comments that said it was too choppy. There was a problem with the sound which made it very hard for people at the back to hear when anyone was speaking into the microphone or when songs were playing on full blast.

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Each actor brought something different to the stage, a different dimension of Indian cinema, but yes, the show isn’t all it was cracked up to be. Another problem was that a lot of hit tracks weren’t performed. I mean when Abhishek and Aishwarya are together, you expect at least something from Guru, but there was nothing! I have to mention that the finale was outstanding! You can probably guess what song they performed there. It was an amazing experience if you have seats close to the stage, but if you’re not sitting on the floor it probably wasn’t worth it because you just sat and watched rather than get involved. Herein lies the show’s largest flaw, that although it attempts to create a night full of wholesome entertainment, it really isn’t interactive at all, especially for the majority of the audience in regular seats.

The reason most of the audience felt distanced from the stars was simply because the venue was TOO big! The Rogers Centre, though a very nice venue, did not fit the bill for this concert because the stage is too far from most of the seats.

The Final Verdict

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So with the prices so high for the tour, was it really worth all the money? I’d say if you’re going, go all out and get good seats because that’s the only way you’re REALLY going to enjoy the concert. For the first time, I bothered to get floor seats and I can say it was worth every penny because I enjoyed my night to the fullest and had a rocking time. However, I can’t say the same for others I know who said their $100 seats weren’t worth the money at all.

Of course, from a fan’s perspective, I thoroughly enjoyed the concert. I think I’m quite right when I say that if you’re a fan of Indian cinema you must be a fan of Amitabh Bachchan because he’s one of the very pillars. And if you are, then this show is completely worth it because it’s like one grand tribute to Bachchan and his contribution to cinema. Also, if you are a fan of old films from the 70’s you will have a blast.

If you’re a Bachchan fan, this concert is for you. However, I’m not sure it will really be ‘unforgettable’ for some sections of the audience. If you already have your tickets, I hope you have a wonderful time at the show and enjoy it as much as I did!

Kuch Toh Bolo!

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