During the opening ceremony of National Games , a friend asked me what is the significance of Mohanlal and M.G Sreekumar singing songs from old Mohanlal movies on a National games event. I replied back-” If A.R Rahman had been in this place conducting this program , won’t he also be using songs from his movies and albums?” . This is Mohanlal’s own music band and the fact that he gained this huge opportunity for a troupe he just recently started completely owes to the name and stature that he had earned through a glorious career of 36 years.
Yes – Mohanlal sang few songs on his own more than needed. Yes – he could have used the short monologues before the songs in English. Yes – it was poorly directed at few places. But does it give us the rights to really have to blow this entire incident out of proportion than actually needed and lash out criticism back and forth in social media ?
Is the news that Mohanlal did the show for Rs 2 crore the issue rather than his actual performance in the event ? Did not Mohanlal and the band’s music director Ratheesh Vega deny the news multiple times and said they are doing the show for free. Mohanlal did go on record saying that he had taken only the cost of bringing in numerous singers for the event and if calculated, it’s much less than what was being said. We all knew Mohanlal and his band came into picture only in November last year once the organizers realized the 4.8 crores quoted by A.R Rahman was beyond their budget.So it only makes sense that the government would not have paid another huge amount for a new band and which is Kerala’s own.
Is the problem that Mohanlal should not have used such a huge platform or serious event to launch his band directly? The organizers and the government already would have known what to expect when they saved the budget by replacing A.R Rahman’s troupe with Lalisom – a new band with relatively no experience. Did not they or we keralites know that Mohanlal would sing few songs and that he is not basically a singer in first place. Did not the crowd and organizers both know to set their expectations that this is no A.R Rahman or K.J Yesudas but basically a 54 year old superstar who is an actor in first place?Why all the blame on Mohanlal and his band alone when he had clearly set the expectations through the band’s teaser and trailer to all of us?
For people who are so highly critical of the band after yesterday night and say that it would remain a scar forever and would affect Kerala’s chances of hosting such events in future, let us hear suggestions for what was the alernatives ? Should Kerala take pride in hosting the program brilliantly by bringing in A.R Rahman who is NOT one of ours and paying actually such a defty amount? Or if he was not available, should we have brought Honey Singh ? How exactly is it a proud moment for Kerala by lacking any freshness, integrity and just playing it safe by taking the help of rest of the India to host a program in Kerala. Another alternative was to bring in bands and troupes with relatively smaller names and then organizers would have a hard a time to explain who is that to the esteemed guests flown from several parts of the country. Also wouldn’t many of us who went to the stadium or sat before the television sets actually skip the event if it was not for Mohanlal’s band performing in the opening ceremony?
A popular Malayalam News Channel’s first instinct on Sunday morning was to immediately make use of the opportunity , forget their ethics and send out a news that the troupe is disbanded following the bad show in the National Game’s opening Ceremony. Which they themselves had to correct later through the band’s music director that it was all false ! Many other viewers’ first priority on Sunday was to flock into social media and use the actor’s popular dialogues and scenes that had amused and entertained them many a time over years to use it against the same man and publish jokes , caricatures and what not!
I am one who believe we should take the stance of Sachin Tendulkar when he famously said during the stoning incident at Yuvraj’s house in 2014 T20 world cup – ‘ Let us criticize him but not crucify him’. If we had made our point that Lalisom band did not perfrom well in the opening ceremony of National games, let us move on. Let us leave Mohanlal and Lalisom alone for now. Lalisom might or might not bounce back in future but having known the man -Mohanlal for the past 36 years , chances are the former would happen.
P.S – The entire time LALISOM was telecast in Doordarshan, my DTH service provider – Airtel had been showing ‘7 KHOON MAAF’ in the back.(perhaps the movie DD planned to show in case the event hadn’t been delayed). That was one movie where Mohanlal had been approached first but actually missed the chance to work with another acting legend – Naseerudheen Shah and a talented bollywood director.
Mohanlal’s enthusiasm and confidence in taking up a performance for a National games event and donning the singer’s role for most of the songs – Personally I would have loved to see this actually be used to take up the chances to work with renowned artists from other languages. But at the same time I also realize that everyone have passions beyond their professions which cannot be resisted.