One Heart opens with a wonderful top-angle shot; A.R. Rahman is in the middle of the sea. Soon enough, the background music kicks in – it’s the all-too-familiar opening beats of Dil Se Re…. Chinna Chinna Aasai, the song that introduced this musician to the world, follows soon, quite unsurprisingly. Rahman is on stage and living it up.
Perhaps India’s first concert film, One Heart is all about the music and less about the musician, and thankfully so. A live concert comes with a hundred possibilities – things that one cannot imagine with the actual soundtrack that we listen to in our headphones – and One Heart captures all that.
The song-list awakens a series of emotions; there’s Endrendrum Punnagai that takes you back to time of Alaipayuthe, the melodic Tere Bina (Guru) that haunts you and the soul-stirring Nadaan Parindey (Rockstar). All this is interspersed with interesting nuggets from the band members — violinist Ann Marie talks about ‘unexpected musical collaborations’ while danseuse Devi Rani Rajev reveals how she thought it was a prank the first time Rahman called her. There are little personal snatches of the Mozart of Madras as well; when he sings to his wife, and makes a video call to his daughter while atop a hot-air balloon.
But the music rules. And rightly so. There are at least a dozen songs from the Mani Ratnam-Rahman body of work and while that works, one wishes some other numbers were chosen as well. There’s an explanation of sorts in the film itself, with Rahman saying, “We pick songs instinctively….depending on what the band is feeling.”
The highlight of One Heart is that it successfully manages to throw light on the contribution of the band members — Ranjit Barot, Haricharan and Jonita Gandhi, to name a few — in creating the magic on stage.
For those who’ve never gone to a concert, One Heart is ideal – it gives you a sense of the atmosphere and sounds. And for those who have, it gives them a chance to undergo a musically-rich experience minus the constant cheering and varied distractions.