Cacophony plays loud at Rahman’s concert in Tamil Nadu

AR Rahman’s concert ‘Marakkuma Nenjam’ (Can the heart forget) on Sunday turned out be an unforgettable night for fans for all the wrong reasons.
Video grab of stampede-like situation at the show on Sunday posted on X (formerly Twitter) by user Manobala V
Video grab of stampede-like situation at the show on Sunday posted on X (formerly Twitter) by user Manobala V

CHENNAI:  AR Rahman’s concert ‘Marakkuma Nenjam’ (Can the Heart Forget) on Sunday turned out to be an unforgettable night for fans for all the wrong reasons. Traffic snarls, lack of space, denial of entry despite valid tickets, crying children, jostling crowd, and complaints of sexual harassment made the event held at Adityaram Palace in Panaiyur a distressful night for the fans who had shelled out huge sums to book tickets. 

A number of social media posts showed people complaining about not being able to reach the venue due to severe traffic congestion on the scenic East Coast Road (ECR), which, according to some reports, even affected the movement of Chief Minister M K Stalin’s convoy.

With complaints pouring in online, the Oscar-winning composer on Monday said he would respond to the grievances of his audience. “Dearest Chennai Makkale (people), those of you who purchased tickets and weren’t able to enter owing to unfortunate circumstances, please do share a copy of your ticket purchase to along with your grievances. Our team will respond asap,” Rahman said in a post on X (formerly Twitter) on Monday.

While police sources said the organisers, ACTC events, may have sold 50,000 tickets, twice more than the venue’s capacity of 25,000, the event management firm said arrangements were indeed made for 50,000 people. According to sources close to the music maestro, around 43,000 tickets were sold and 4,500 free passes were distributed. This includes around 5,000 tickets in the standing zone of the venue.

“Left-side of the venue was empty and people were crowding on the right side that had 17 entrances. There were 700 private security personnel and 300 student volunteers to guide people inside the venue. The area was big enough to accommodate 50,000 people,” said a member of AR Rahman’s team. “I went to the concert with my sister and four-year-old niece. We reached the venue at 5 pm and occupied our platinum seats,” Sinduja Sivaraja, a spectator, told TNIE.  

‘Organiser failed to inform about separate entrances’

“Just before the concert started, people from other ticket classes started entering the platinum box and it was overcrowded. As my niece got scared by the swelling crowd, we decided to leave. Several men groped us as we were navigating our way through the crowd and it took us 30 minutes to reach the entrance,” Sinduja Sivaraja said.

Several women shared similar harrowing experiences on social media. People were also seen throwing bottles and chairs at each other leading to fights at the venue. “The organisers also failed to inform fans about separate entrances. Most of the fans reached the main entrance shown on Google Maps and organisers redirected them to other entrances saying it was reserved for VIPs.

Because of this, we had to take a detour of three km which took another one hour due to traffic holdups at several places,” said A Sriram, a fan. Visitors were outraged as many of them who had bought tickets priced up to Rs 40,000 were denied entry due to overcrowding. Spectators also complained about video and audio troubles. There were not enough toilets, mainly for those with silver and gold tickets priced at Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000, too.

Many of the fans parked their vehicles on the lanes opposite to the venue and walked more than three to four km to reach the venue. Policemen said they were unable to clear the vehicles because all the exit points were gridlocked. There was also an announcement about a missing child in the middle of the concert. Tambaram Police Commissioner Amalraj visited the spot on Monday to hold an inquiry.

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