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Heat Concert:
Robin Raina Foundation Gives Credibility to a Hit and Miss Concert


The best thing about the “ Heat Concert” starring Akshay Kumar, Saif Ali Khan, Sushmita Sen, Preity Zinta and Celina Jaitly was the fact that it was hosted by the Raina Foundation for a noble cause. The foundation worked very hard to make it a success and Sushmita Sen, Akshay Kumar and the newly operated upon Saif Ali Khan(he had an appendicitis operation, Akshay was recovering from a broken foot) gave it their all because they believe in charitable causes. And of course the outstanding dancers who frankly stole the show from under the stars’ noses many a time.

The bad thing about the concert, showcased by Abbu Malik was that it turned out to be a shorter, paler version of what the Morani brothers have become masters at after all these years of conceptualizing, creating and managing Bollywood shows and Bollywood actors.

The first hour of the show began well enough with spectacular fire works, and a show stopping dance from the dance troupe accompanying the performers, before Celina Jaitly came on stage and performed numbers from her films along with the famous Kajra Re, the super hit number Aishwarya Rai performed in Bunty aur Babli. I have to say that Celina was the weakest cog in the wheel and the Kajra Re number would have looked better on Sushmita, who is not only a superb dancer, but also has a very magnetic personality. Her intelligence, how hard she had worked to perfect her moves and her genuine warmth shone through out the show.

Sushmita had laryngitis but sportingly continued talking to the audience, was genuinely appreciative of the work the foundation had done for underprivileged children and chose to walk through the audience shaking hands. As she was about to go back on stage, she saw a little 6 year old American girl waving to her. Sushmita who is extremely fond of children and had adopted a little girl at a young age of twenty three, 7 years ago, on an impulse picked up the little child who then told her, “ I have cancer.” The young girl’s mother is American and she had earlier written a letter to the Raina foundation that her three girls love Bollywood films and Saif Ali Khan, but could not afford the price, and as an afterthought, mentioned that her youngest daughter had cancer.
“ Her letter really moved me and VIP tickets were sent to her,” said Robin Raina. “ It was a total coincidence that Sushmita happened to see the little girl and found her so cute she picked her up and found out she had cancer. She made that little girl’s day by handing her an autographed hat and may be these moments make such concerts all the more special.”

Perhaps the fact that this was a noble cause made Saif Ali Khan rise above his appendicitis surgery, and dance and sing, play the guitar and chat up the audience, in spite of a heavily bandaged midriff. He also got a woman from North Carolina on stage, serenaded her with a song from his hit movie,” Parineeta” and gifted her an autographed guitar. His live performance with the band was good, but he played and sang the same two songs that he had done for the Temptations tour a couple of years ago. In fact 80 percent of his performance and the little skit Preity and he performed on stage with a couple from the audience is a tested and tried Morani formula and lifted straight from there.

Usually whenever it’s a show by the Moranis, each star makes a spectacular entry. It was interesting to see how every one was waiting with baited breath for just that-a spectacular entry or something special by Akshay Kumar, but that was not to be as the actor came on stage among other dancers and went through the usual song and dance routine solo and then with Sushmita. 

Akshay did try his best to entertain, singing many songs in his own voice and doing a vigorous Punjabi Bhangra, singing his hits numbers and even Punjabi tappe. He said he was really happy that this concert had a higher, nobler reason to be performed and that raised it to a level beyond a mere Bollywood concert. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise for the tour because the tour had not done well in many cities, and was cancelled in Toronto due to poor ticket sales according to Press reports. This was perhaps their best audience and at a little over 3000, the largest.

There was an appeal to help Danyal Ali, a young teenage boy battling leukemia and needing a bone marrow transplant and his mother Samina Ali was able to raise 3000 dollars. The Raina foundation had donated 5000 dollars to Samina already.

Preity Zinta was another dispensable star in the concert. She came, she danced , she left and she came across as the least sincere of all the performers.

If this show had comprised of just Akshay, Sushmita and Saif Ali Khan and all they had done was talk to and mingle with the audience, it would have been enough.

As the show progressed it became the usual mediocre songs and dance, with long pauses between items. Jasmine Patel from Alabama called it a nautanki, and many people that were interviewed, were very disappointed by the fact that it had nothing new to offer and that it was at least 30 minutes shorter than the usual Bollywood concerts they had been used to seeing.

Perhaps the most endearing thing that was seen was the generosity of the Atlanta crowd that sportingly cheered everything after Robin Raina came on stage and shared his vision, his dreams and hopes about making a difference in the lives of underprivileged children. In an interview later Robin talked about how every one in Georgia from strangers to store keepers to friends and volunteers went out of their way to help. Robin was able to raise about 150,000 dollars in sponsorship money, and even though such shows are very expensive, the foundation has still made a little money.

I don’t think it is really worth the effort however, because expensive shows like these do little in terms of raising huge funds..

I have always appreciated the amount of hard work not only the volunteers, but Robin himself puts in at each event he hosts. I have seen each one of those volunteers and Robin work tirelessly. 

The kindness of the people-from the stars and the promoters who gave the foundation a break, to all those who chipped in was a hit. However if it wasn’t a concert hosted by the Raina foundation, and Robin is a dear friend, I would have given it a miss.

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