A.R. Rahman has released the ’99 Songs’ Special Concert — a digital show chronicling the music of his upcoming film ’99 Songs’. A musical experience that brings to life ’99 Songs’ as never seen before, the digital concert is now streaming on JioSaavn’s LIVE Anywhere platform. This special concert allows listeners to experience the music of ’99 Songs’ ahead of the film’s release in theatres on April 16th. Streaming in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu, the ’99 Songs’ Special Concert sees Academy and Grammy Award-winning composer Rahman unite with the exceptional voices of the ’99 Songs’ soundtrack. The film’s lead actor Ehan Bhat (who trained to be a musician for the film!) and director Vishwesh Krishnamoorthy too join Rahman in rendering the sound of the movie. Together, team ’99 Songs’ delivers a digital musical montage that pays tribute to the story of the film while honouring the spirit of music itself.
About the ’99 Songs’ Special Concert, A.R. Rahman says, “My initial idea was that I should go to every city, every college and perform, for you, the songs of this movie. But given the times, the least we can do is present a show with the incredible singers and musicians who are part of the soundtrack. I hope you’ll go to cinemas on 16th April with masks on and show some love to the film.”
In a first-of-its-kind presentation, the ’99 Songs’ Special Concert sees music maestro A.R. Rahman, who makes his filmmaking debut as producer and writer with this movie, invoke the power of music during an uncertain time. Amidst the trials of the pandemic, Rahman weaves a musical concert that traverses through the tracks of ’99 Songs’ to deliver a show that reflects the magic of the live A.R. Rahman experience.
The ’99 Songs’ Special Concert features the global music legend alongside vocalists Benny Dayal, Shashwat Singh, Shashaa Tirupati, Vijay Yesudas, Sreekanth Hariharan, Poorvi Koutish, Haricharan, the Sunshine Orchestra and more. The show is truly a celebration of the power of music. Much like in the art of filmmaking, Rahman combines music with storytelling to take viewers on a journey through the soundtrack of ’99 Songs’, as if turning the chapters of a book. The songs are accompanied by a story told by the maestro, the lyricists Navneet Virk, Dilshaad Shabbir Shaikh, Kalpradah and more, as well as the vocalists, about how the track came to be.
“ ‘99 Songs’ is the story about one man’s struggle between the old world and the new world. The antidote is music,” said Rahman as he invited viewers to witness the music of ’99 Songs’. The concert began with the spiritual love song “O Aashiqa”, sung by Shashwat Singh. Rahman graces the stage throughout the concert film, weaving melodies at the piano. “O Aashiqa” is flush with choral voices and the memorable piano riff rendered by Rahman. Singh’s passionate bridge drives the message of the song home. As lyricist Virk explained, this song embodies the spirit of ’99 Songs’. It’s about selflessness; it’s a prayer for a better world. Virk even recalled Rahman’s brief for “O Aashiqa” while speaking on stage. “That song has to say everything we want to say. That song has to have the lesson of the movie,” he said.
’99 Songs’’ director and screenplay writer Vishwesh Krishnamoorthy also took to the stage to speak about how his relationship with filmmaking changed during the production of 99 Songs. As a fellow musician, the director delved into how each day on set propelled him to evolve as a creator. “You wanted to make a film about music and you wanted me to direct it. I tried to explore it to the deepest depths. You really pushed me towards becoming much better on this film,” he said to Rahman who concurred on how the challenge of making ’99 Songs’ led them both to transform as creatives.
The dialogue between the producer and director was followed by a mesmerizing performance of the quintessential ’99 Songs’ love song, “Sofia”. Singh returned to the stage to belt the beautiful track as the delicate and exhilarating guitaring by Carl Fernandes and Joshua Satya infused “Sofia” with a magical lead. Subsequently, Poorvi Koutish, the volcanic voice of “Jwalamukhi”, rendered a spellbinding performance of the powerful heartbreak track. As lyricist Virk explained, “Still waters run deep. Love is passion and pain; that’s jwalamukhi — a volcano.” Up next was a performance of the ballad “Teri Nazar” by Singh. Lyricist Shaikh explained, “It’s a song about the great pain of being separated from your lover.” The evocative tabla by Sai Shravanam and mellifluous flute by Naveen Kumar lent a delicate melancholy to Singh’s silky vocals. Rahman further revealed details about the track by sharing what the song was meant to embody, “It was about the journey of a person who starts with simple melodies, and [then] goes to a very, very complex [place], and [then] goes back to simplicity,” he said.
The ballad was followed by moving performances of the lullaby from ’99 Songs’, “O Mera Chand”, as well as the spiritual track “Sai Shirdi Sai”, by Bela Shende. The singer’s saccharine vocals melded with the transportive flute and sparkling instrumentals to create a transcendental musical stage bolstered by Rahman. After this meditative interlude, Rahman invited vocalist Shashaa Tirupati to render his incredible jazz composition, “Soja Soja” which was made all the more triumphant by Lisa and Rameethha V’s brass. The ’99 Songs’ Special Concert came to a close with a performance of “Nayi Nayi” by Singh. Director Krishnamoorthy and actor Ehan Bhat joined the singer on stage to amplify the celebratory theme of the track. This performance was made all the more special when Rahman himself departed his position at the piano to take up the keytar and end “Nayi Nayi” on a jubilant note.