August 14, 2016
They could have been in any part of India carrying out their duties as an Indian Air Force (IAF) warrior. But today their call was different and here they were entertaining the people of Coimbatore. And, Coimbatore gave an arousing response to the Air Warriors’ Symphony Orchestra that was in the city on Sunday to perform on the eve of the 70th Independence Day.
The cacophony of the thronging week-end crowd at the Brookefields Mall came to a standstill as the shoppers converged at the Central Atrium to listen to the concert. And, if you thought that it was only about patriotism since it was a Defence band, then you are far from the truth.
While there was indeed the melancholic instrumental ‘Mere watan ke logon’, there was also the feet-tapping ‘jumme hi raat hai’ from the Bollywood flick ‘Kick’ by Sergeant T. Thapa that had the audience hooting and whistling.
The audience remained rooted to their spots through the 90-minute ensemble that began at 6 p.m. And, the 30-odd band members did not in any way disappoint. They were on a roll playing Western, Indian and fusion, from their hearts.
The repertoire took off with the ‘Emblazone’. This was followed by the theme song of the Air Warrior Symphony Orchestra led by Junior Warrant Officer M.J. Dixon.
The audience went into total silent mode when Thapa and LAC Preetham rendered the soulful ‘Sandeshey Aate Hain’ from the Hindi film ‘Border’. There were a few who were left teary-eyed when they ended with the last lines “main wapas aaoonga” (I will be back), the promise of a soldier as he leaves home for duty.
‘Tum hi ho’ from ‘Aashiqui 2’ from Thapa was another major hit with the audience. And, whoever told that Coimbatoreans enjoy only Tamil music will have to eat his words. The crowd did not stop hooting and screaming for the whole song.
The audience equally enjoyed the mellifluous flute strains of the evergreen number ‘Kanney Kalai Manney’ from the popular Tamil flick ‘Moondram Pirai’. ‘Shala La La’ from Venga Boys was another masterpiece that most enjoyed.
‘Inspirato’, ‘Renaissance’, a flute fusion based on the ‘Vande Mataram’, ‘Suno A Sang’, a Hindi number from the movie ‘Youngistan’ by Thapa, ‘Rejoice in Raisina’, and ‘Money Money’ from the ever-green Abba, were also well received.
According to Master Warrant Officer A.L. Maxwell, band master, though the ambience was not one of a sound-proof theatre in which the band usually performed, the packed crowd that flocked the corridors of all the four floors of the mall helped contain what could have turned into an echo.
The band was extremely happy to have played to a rapt audience, they did not expect. Some phones were on throughout the event recording every piece. And, Coimbatore gave the band members the appreciation they deserved. There were many who personally congratulated the team members, shook hands with them, and took a lot of photos.
Sgt Thapa from Dehradun was the flavour of the evening and he had many fans, young and old, waiting to take selfies with him.
And, the event organised by the Air Force Administrative College in an attempt to connect the Air Force with Coimbatore, ended with the ‘Vande Mataram’, a fitting beginning to the commemoration of the Independence Day.