Shreya Ghoshal and Atif Aslam in concert, Houston, TX, March 13, 2010


First of all, Shreya was outstanding. That girl has a voice – and she did not shy away from any of the difficult songs (Aami je tomar (Bhool Bhulaiya), Pal Pal har pal (Lage Raho Munna Bhai), Kaise mujhe tum mil gaye (Ghajini) etc. Her voice was like a well-tuned instrument – never faltering on a single note. Very much like Asha Bhosle (who I also had the pleasure of seeing live a few years earlier).

Atif was the exact opposite. Not only could he not sing – he has a showmanship factor that far outweighs any real singing talent. We all have that one friend or acquaintance who is convinced that he is God’s gift to the music world – only he hasn’t been told the ugly truth yet. Atif continued to under-perform, never got in tune for even a minute – and when it came to the difficult notes in his songs, turned the mike over to the audience!

Atif is clearly a novice singer with little or no control over his voice. It just speaks wonders for recording-studio technology that he sounds absolutely flawless in his recordings.

To combine Shreya and Atif in the same concert was like having Tiger Woods tee off with Ray Romano in a golf major. One is a world class golfer, the other a brilliant comedian – though clearly out of his league in a competitive golf tournament. The analogy isn’t exact since Ray – the misfit golfer – is at least brilliant at something.

So much for the performers.

Organizers (Indo-American Association)

The organizers of the show left a lot to be desired. They obviously did not go through any rehearsals. Have you ever had that one friend or acquaintance who believes her jokes are hilarious – and delivers them with full confidence – only to discover that nobody laughed?

The concert host (Niharika) is clearly one of these self-proclaimed comedians.

She never learnt that good humor is 10% content and 90% delivery. If the punch line lacks delivery, not even the best content can rescue it.

Imagine 3 hours of this kind of poorly timed humor – delivered in the form of one sher after another by the concert host. It made one wish they had purchased some eggs prior to the show.

Some other factors that were overlooked by the organizers included:

  • the bright flashing overhead lights which hit everyone in the eye. This may sound like nitpicking – but every 30 seconds or so – it sent everyone ducking for cover. If you have never experienced being bombarded with 20000 Kilo Wattage – delivered dead straight into your eyes – while sitting in a DARK auditorium – well this was your chance to gain this invaluable experience. It reeks of lack of any rehearsal on the part of the show organizers. And it shows their level of disinterest that they did not catch on or fix the problem mid-show.
  • in spite of various security measures – there ended up being a whole bunch of gate-crashers – who proudly stood on the steps and bragged about how they got in without tickets.

Summary The organizers did everything in their power to make it as inconvenient and unmemorable as possible – but they failed. Shreya was a true superstar and saved the organizers in spite of themselves. And they should never have combined a classy singer with someone who needs to take singing lessons.

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