Houston Rocks On with Farhan

By Malay Vyas

HOUSTON: Rarely does a Bollywood show resemble a rock concert, rarely does the Arena theatre see a full house, standing up and dancing, rarely does a Bollywood Superstar perform for a show for no charge at all, rarely does a singer stop and do 50 push ups during a song, rarely does Houston get blessed with the only concert on Farhan Akhtar’s North American calendar. Farhan arrived, Farhan rocked and Farhan conquered…. all for a great cause.


 The show was brought to Houston by Magic Bus USA for the benefit of Magic Bus India programs.  The latter is an NGO based in Mumbai with a vision to give millions of children living in poverty the opportunity to control the way they view the world, the freedom to choose the role they will play in it, and the power to define their own destiny. Mathew Spacie – the Founder and CEO of Magic Bus India Foundation –was the COO of Cox and Kings in Mumbai when he started with a simple gesture of inviting the slum kids to join in a game of rugby that changed lives of many a street urchin. Mathew and his team of volunteers would take the street kids in buses to various beaches of Mumbai and hence the name “Magic Bus”. A mere sum of $25 a year can bring positive changes in life of a street child in Mumbai and the aim of Magic Bus Foundation is to reach out to over 1 million street children in India.


 Sunil Thakkar of Masala Radio emceed the show in his own inimitable way walking through the audience and interviewing people at their seats. As the concert got underway, Houston’s own dancers took stage with Naach Houston setting the evening alight with medley of dances followed by a performance from the Infused Performing Arts group. Rahul Brahmbhatt, Executive Director, Magic Bus USA then addressed the audience with a short film about the activities of Magic Bus India.  Next Amit Bhandari articulated about how he and Arpita spent over six hours in Mumbai slums with the street children to understand how Magic Bus volunteers worked. Clearly impressed with the efforts of Magic Bus, Amit requested Houstonians to donate for this noble cause. Arpita then announced the names of major donors and plaques were given away as a token of appreciation.

 Houston was now set to receive Farhan with open arms and wild catcalls. The audience chanted “Farhan, Farhan” as Sunil announced his arrival. The now-famous shayari from “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara” rang across the theatre as Farhan entered the hall. “Zinda Ho Tum…” dialogue got the audience in raptures.  The multi-talented Farhan Akhtar then took the mike with band member Shannon Donald on vocals with hits such as “Sindbaad the Sailor”, “Socha Hai”, “Pichhle Saat Dino Mein” and “Tum Ho To” from Rock On; “Dhadakne Do” and “Senorita” from Zindagi Milegi Na Dobara. During an epic rendition of “Tum Ho To…” Farhan got the audience in a frenzy as they counted down his random fifty pushups on stage before he completed the song – the 2500 strong audience singing all along. Then came the songs from Dil Chahta hai – on audience demand – followed by hit songs from Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. Shannon had her own solos – the soulful “Yeh Baatein” from Rock On. Farhan also crooned his favorite “One Love” from U2 – India has an answer to Bono. No band, not even a Bollywood Star’s band is complete without the orchestra – Sarosh Izedyar (lead guitarist), Dibyajyoti Nath (bass guitar) Darshan Doshi (drums) and Umaang Doshi (keyboard) brought together a complete Rock Concert feel to the evening.

For 90 minutes, there was hardly anyone who sat down in the theatre, least of all the “head-banging” teens. Farhan radiated unbelievable energy after spending 5 hours co-hosting the IIFA Awards in Tampa, ending at 3AM Sunday April 27, during which he won the award for Best Actor – Male for his  role in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. Truly a magical evening, there was magic in the air, the magic of Farhan Akhtar and of Magic Bus.

Photos: Meedu/Meedu Photography and Yasir Raza/ Pixel Studio Productions