SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The “Zinda Tour” live concert was a concert unlike any other when Bollywood actor-director-singer Farhan Akhtar entranced 4,500 young Indian American fans with his raspy vocals and firebrand personality at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds here May 21.
The show, which was brought to San Jose by Bikramjeet Singh of Bollywood Events and Ray and Kay Walia, also featured popular Bollywood playback singer Papon.
“We knew Bay Area would love this one of a kind concert, and that’s why we especially picked an outdoor venue and custom built the stage,” Bikram Jeet Singh, Bollywood Events CEO, said in a statement. “I am thrilled at the response we have got for the show. I would like to thank my sponsors, partners, Bollywood Events team and Bay Area audience for believing in Bollywood Events.”
Papon kicked off the evening with some of his hit songs like “Jiyein Kyun” from “Dum Maaro Dum,” “Moh Moh Ke Dhaage” from “Dum Laga Ke Haisha,” and a reprise of “Tu Jo Mila” from the Salman Khan-Kareena Kapoor starrer “Bajrangi Bhaijaan.”
Papon, whose real name is Angaraag Mahanta, has lent his powerful voice to numerous songs in Assamese, Bengali, Tamil, Kannada and Marathi. The singer, wearing a Golden State Warriors t-shirt, interspersed his Hindi renditions with Punjabi and Assamese numbers, inviting loud cheers from the crowd.
“This is the first time that I am singing in front of a setting sun,” Papon told the fans before rendering “Denae Denae” from Coke Studio @MTV Season. “Usually I wear sunglasses and sing at night.”
Along with songs like “Humnava” from “Hamari Adhuri Kahaani,” his next offerings included some ghazals like “Ranjish Hi Sahi.”
An hour later, amidst the roaring chants of “Farhan!” “Farhan!” from his raucous fans, Akhtar walked onstage sporting a floral shirt, long coat and jeans, reciting a few lines from “Toh Zinda Ho Tum,” a poem written by his father, Javed Akhtar, that appeared in his 2011 film, “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara.”
Flanked by his nine-member band, Farhan Live, the actor opened his set with “Sinbad The Sailor,” a song from his first film as an actor, “Rock On,” which was enough to send the zealous crowd into a frenzy.
“When we arrived here this morning, and saw what the weather was like... I am sure you saw it too and everyone was really concerned,” Akhtar said in his first interaction with the fans. “But when there is so much love, so much wanting for something to happen, even the sky is a part.”
What followed next was nothing short of a power-packed performance. Crooning songs like “Tum Ho Toh Gaata Hai Dil,” “Main Aisa Kyun Hoon” and “Tension Kyun Lete Ho Yaar,” he was a fireball of energy on stage creating the ultimate party vibe with some major dance moves, giving his fans a super fun evening.
The crowd lapped up the actor’s nearly two hours of stage theatrics and maneuvers, as he danced against a massive, high-tech video screen on the main stage and on a ramp that jutted into the audience.
His energy was infectious that had the crowd on their feet all night. He caused quite a stir with an impromptu reggae rap, which the crowd seemed to have fallen in love with.
The fan-artist interactions were frequent and the 42-year-old singer constantly kept the crowd engaged along with asking fans sitting on each side of the amphitheater how they were doing.
Akhtar also used the platform to promote a cause close to his heart: MARD, (Men Against Rape and Discrimination). He narrated lines from a poem of the same name and sang “Chulein Aasman,” a song about female emancipation.
MARD is a social initiative launched by the actor-musician in 2013 to create awareness, and to instill gender equality and respect towards women.
“It’s an issue that has been plaguing the human race for as long as we consider ourselves civilized. And that is the fact that men and women have never been equal. Men have never treated women equally,” he said. “And that has to change. Fifty percent of the humanity cannot move forward with the other fifty percent being left behind. It’s not possible.”
Requesting fans to join him in his endeavor, he called on all men and boys to be a catalyst of change.
“We as men have taken a pledge to be a part of the solution now, and what we are going to do is redefine ourselves, our roles and redefine the parameters for young boys who are now on the cusp of manhood,” he stated amid much applause.
About three-fourths of the way through the concert, Akhtar stopped singing and abruptly said “good night,” only to return seconds later busting out rapid and continuous push-ups for almost two minutes, and the happy fans, while counting them, cheered him on.
Throughout the concert, along with rendering many crowd-pleasing hits that he has recorded over the course of his career, like “Gallan Goodiyaan,” “Havan Karenge,” “Atraangi Yaari” and “Dil Chahta Hai,” he also gave the crowd a taste of various couplets written by his father. Akhtar ended the concert with a bang, singing the much requested title track of “Rock On” as fans sang along. Hollywood director Tim Chey was also in attendance at the event.