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Season 5 of MTV Unplugged gave us a mixed plate with some brilliant stuff (Moh Moh Ke Dhaage, Tu Hi Re) along with some mishits. But the best thing about the whole concept, right from Season 1, was how we got to listen to our favourite songs reinvented by the composers/singers themselves. We already had one ‘Dil Se’ and ‘Phir Se Ud Chalaa’ to listen to and marvel at, but now we have two equally good versions!

There are only a few music composers who can pull off a successful unplugged rendition of their music. Last week, Pritam made his debut at MTV Unplugged with his set, and saying he stole the show is only saying less.

Javed Ali’s ‘Tu Jo Mila’ was extremely like-able, with some of its familiar orchestral themes yet some amazing new guitar riffs and vacuum-tight drums and vocal harmonies. The build-ups, the hits, the percussions, and the choir all came together in a perfect mix: something of a live musical rarity.

It was a treat watching them play at harps and flutes and the charango on the stage, even if it was on TV. ‘Saaawali si raat’ had always been a favourite. Now we have another masterpiece with the violin. Pritam’s half humming-half singing act could have been given a rest, but the way the song blended into the theme music is something of a rare orchestral maneuver in India. The rest of the song, ‘Barfi’was only a celebration of the brilliance pulled off a minute ago.

‘Afghan Jalebi’, could have been (only compared to the rest) the weaker link in the set. Though we loved the band having fun on stage with the clapping and grooving, the Indian Qawalli-ish feel to the song made it a tad bit monotonous.

Nakash Aziz was undoubtedly a gem with his voice and he shone throughout.

‘Kamli’ was presented in a slower, lounge feel. The sitar solo and Javed Ali interlude took the song to another level altogether. Darshan Doshi kept us engaged with his groovy, yet tight drums. Shilpa Rao pulled off, if not amazing, a fairly enjoyable song. MTV Unplugged just gave us another reason to love ‘Kamli’ than just those exaggerated Katrina moves.

The showstopper of the evening was undoubtedly Harshdeep Kaur with her blissful rendition of ‘Aaj Din Chadeya’. We don’t know what prompted Pritam to use her for this song, or think of bringing in Irshad Kamil to recite the original Shiv Kumar poem; but that totally made our evening. The shehnai could have painted a masterpiece with its slender lines and subtle ‘harkatein’. Harshdeep Kaur stunned us with her heartfelt treatment of the beautiful lyrics. It had been a while that the original Rahat Fateh Ali Khan version had faded away from our playlists, but this one brought out the song like the original never did.

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