After fans voiced their disappointment and anger regarding poor crowd management, overbooking and incidents of molestation during music composer AR Rahman's concert, 'Marakkuma Nenjam', that was held yesterday (10 September) at Adityaram palace city in the outskirts of Chennai, Rahman responded to the issue through posts on X (formerly Twitter) and Instagram.
He also spoke about it in an interview with The Hindu.
Asking people to send in their grievances and a copy of their tickets to an email address, he said that his team would respond as soon as possible.
In the interview, he said that the incident had left the team "terribly disturbed."
“Right now, we are just terribly disturbed. Safety was the primary issue, especially because there were women and kids. I don’t want to point fingers at anyone, but we have to realise that the city is expanding, and the passion to consume music and art is also expanding.”
Further, he stated that he had been under the impression that while he would concentrate on the music, other aspects like organisation of the event would be taken care of.
"As a composer, my job was to give a terrific show, and I thought everything else would be taken care of. I was just thinking that it shouldn’t rain, and was happily performing inside, without any idea of what was happening outside. Our intentions were good, but I think the response was beyond our expectations. We are collecting the data now, and we will surprise fans with something soon.”
Offering an explanation on the question of overbooking, he said, "The organisers [ACTC events] had put together about 46,000 chairs in the venue. In some sections, everybody sat on one side and didn’t move to the other side. Seeing this, the policemen on duty assumed that the venue was full and closed it. By this time, the show had already started inside.”
He spoke about the need for improved and better infrastructure for hosting events of this scale and said that going forward artistes would have to involve themselves more in the non-music aspects of the concert as well.
“For global experiences, we need to have an international setup. This is a lesson for me. It pushes me to go beyond being a musician, and get involved in infrastructure as well. I’ve been to many arts collective in the world, and when I see those, I think: why deny this experience to our own people right here in Chennai? They deserve that, and more. What it takes is what we discovered during this concert.”
“This was like a cyclone we did not plan for. We did 20 concerts in the U.S. last year, and everything was smooth and trouble free — because we trusted the system there. ‘Marakkuma Nenjam’ is India’s highest-sold show till date, which is great, but it is more important how we treat people than the actual concert itself. And that, I had little control over. I knew what all songs to pack in, which singers to rope in, and what musical surprises to give fans, but going forward, artistes have to take leadership on measuring contractually what goes into these arrangements.”
He added that he felt that the event was a 90 per cent success and a 10 per cent loss.
“Thousands of people inside were happily listening to the concert,” he says, adding “The energy and love in Chennai is overwhelming; sometimes, when you love something too much, it goes away from you. I think that’s what has happened here. I am ambitious about making Chennai an arts capital, but with respect to what happened, I do not want to point fingers at anyone because I know people come to concerts for me, and not for who the organisers are.”
“We will face this and fix it, because every soul is important to me. I told my son [A.R. Ameen] this: anything that we do in partnership, people do not look at the partnership, they look at us. The partnerships might disappear, but we will remain. I now have to think beyond just the musical aspects of a concert. We will, hopefully, not let this happen ever again.”
Meanwhile, the Tambaram police have started a probe into the issue and would enquire whether the organisers had violated license conditions and oversold the tickets.
Earlier, today morning (11 September), Rahman had reposted posts by some fans who did not have a bad experience and a post by the organisers, ACTC events, which said, "Grateful to Chennai and the legendary @arrahman Sir! The incredible response, the overwhelming crowd made our show a massive success. Those who couldn't attend on overcrowding, Our sincere apologies. We take full responsibility and accountable. We are with you. #MarakkumaNenjam"
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