From the back of the mezzanine where we are seated, we can barely see her, this Shreya Ghoshal. Her outfit is a pleasant blue, and she is wearing high-heeled shoes. The shoes are bright white. High Heel Confidential would probably call them pumps.
We can barely see her, but we can hear her just fine. The acoustics are perfect. She sounds crystal clear. Her voice is beautiful.
We had to displace a few people to sit together, the eight of us. Far back on the mezzanine, by the left corner. This floor is packed.
“Why would she eat at Quarterdeck?” we ask ourselves as we are waiting for the show to begin. “Because Bongs like seafood,” we conclude, only partly in jest.
Meanwhile, orchestra level tickets are being sold at half price for last minute buyers.
Everyone is used to each other on stage. There is no telltale “one two three” to countdown for a new song. Shreya walks towards the back of the stage, then turns back around, cueing a new song.
The orchestral accompaniment is minimal. A couple of keyboards. Rhythm and bass. Drums, tabla. A male backup singer. Their role is to fade into the background and let her take center stage. They do it competently.
After a break, the singer is singing a few songs to fill time. We think he is doing it pretty well, but a mean voice from the crowd yells “We want Shreya.” He handles it with ease.
He must be used to it.
Meanwhile, Shreya Ghoshal is nailing it.
When I was young, I would play table tennis with a classmate. He never looked like he was trying to win. Joking around and goofing off. But he would win big. Effortlessly.
He would go on to play for the state one day.
Shreya is that guy.
Her jokes are pitch perfect, and she punctuates them with an endearing giggle. Her singing is flawless, her voice beautiful. She sings nonstop for two hours, her voice showing no obvious signs of strain.
While walking around for two hours. In those white pumps.
Many in the crowd do.
There is a guy sending pictures of himself and his family to her on Twitter. A girl somewhere on our floor periodically shouts I love you Shreya.
She is barely breaking a sweat, winning this with ease.
A group of Tamil aunties a few rows in front of us make a barely audible request to her to sing something in Tamil. We secretly egg them on.
There is a long line at the restroom during the break. A couple of grumpy old men are ahead of me in line.
“Usually only the women’s rooms have a line. This is ridiculous.”
They then move on to criticizing other things. The lack of food. The presence of a bar.
They are old desi men. They criticize everything.
After the break, the songs become more recognizable. Bollywood hits that are hard to miss.
Radha on the dance floor.
Radha likes to party.
We wait to see what she’ll sing next.
Desi Radha body.
There are a group of backup dancers on the stage.
Between songs, an emcee makes announcements. She frequently uses words like mellifluous and beautiful and songstress. She also frequently raises her voice to a fever pitch.
A local restaurateur is sponsoring the show. Sometime towards the end of the show, he gets up on stage with a few others to felicitate Shreya.
We speculate if he will say “table for two?” on stage. He usually says that.
It was that kind of night.
Shreya is beseeching the crowd to clap with the beat. Hoot, whistle, dance. All in that gentle, playful tone.
The average age of the city she is in must be sixty. Just saying.
Shreya, I love youuuuuuuuuuuu. The girl’s voice again.
The applause is loudest when she sings Chaudhvi ka Chand. She is singing it beautifully.
One of us admits that they thought the song was Chaudhri ka Chand for the longest time. That the guy in the song was called Chaudhri, and he was calling the girl his moon.
He admits the song holds less meaning to him now as Chaudhvi ka Chand. If fact, he doesn’t know what a Chaudhvi ka Chand is.
She sings a few lines from a recent Kannada song she recorded. She giggles at the end while wondering if she messed up the lines.
The speakers in the restroom are blaring out ads for yupptv. The two old men have finished up. They think yupptv is too expensive.
Before they go back to their seats, one of them asks the other how the concert was.
“Beautiful, isn’t she awesome?”
The other agrees. “She is blessed.”
This Shreya Ghoshal concert was in Fort Lauderdale Florida, the first of her recent US tour.
Photos courtesy: Shreya Ghoshal’s Instagram account.