How AR Rahman’s concert turned into terrifying night of groping and molestation for women in Chennai

Ayaan Paul
Ayaan PaulSep 12, 2023 | 13:37

How AR Rahman’s concert turned into terrifying night of groping and molestation for women in Chennai

The Marakkuma Nenjam concert, featuring the legendary musician AR Rahman, seemed poised to be an unforgettable night for fans who traveled far and wide to attend the event in Chennai. However, for several women who attended this event, it quickly transformed into a nightmare, marked by incidents of groping and molestation, shining a harsh spotlight on the woefully inadequate crowd management and security measures in place.


Before proceeding, please be aware of the following (TRIGGER WARNING: Descriptions of sexual violence)

The Quint interviewed several women who attended the concert, each sharing their personal stories of trauma and outrage. One of them, a 31-year-old independent filmmaker, recounted her horrifying experience, 

"I asked a man, whom I addressed as Anna (brother), the way to leave the venue as I had a panic attack. He looked me in the eye, and the next thing I knew, his hand was on my breasts and I was groped. I froze. I couldn't move an inch. A horrific, traumatising experience I can never get over."

In a report by The Quint, one woman who attended the concert shared her distressing ordeal. She chronicled how the fans, who had come to celebrate the music, were instead taken for granted, subjected to mistreatment, and, in some cases, even scammed. 

The concert, held at Chennai's Adityaram Palace City on September 10, drew a staggering crowd of over 45,000 people.

  • The chaos outside the venue was evident, with long queues, traffic jams, and mismanagement of ticket holders.
  • The concert's organisers, it seems, were ill-prepared to handle the massive crowd that had gathered to witness this musical spectacle.
  • Chaos unravelled, with attendees screaming in distress, physical altercations breaking out, and, most alarmingly, a stampede-like situation unfolding.

However, the most distressing part of this woman's account were the two incidents of groping she endured during the concert. Her encounter portrayed the overwhelming anxiety and trauma she experienced that night. In her own words, she conveyed that she had never felt so unsafe in Chennai, a city that she calls home.

She directly addressed Rahman himself, imploring him to take accountability for the grave situation that had transpired and asserting that it was not acceptable for such a renowned artist to remain indifferent to the issues of overcrowding, stampedes, and molestation that marred his concert; demanding justice for those who had suffered.

What made it all so much worse was the realisation that she was not alone; many other women had undergone similarly distressing experiences that night.


A 22-year-old lawyer from Chennai, who had graduated from college just months prior, recalled how she and her mother were trying to exit the venue but found themselves in a suffocating sea of people.

  • Her traumatic experience involved being groped multiple times for over half an hour. Initially, she tried to attribute it to the crowded conditions, but soon she realised that these touches were deliberate and intentional. 
"I lost count of the number of times I got groped yesterday. After a while, I gave up and didn't try to defend myself. I tried pushing them, punching them, but they kept touching me. So I had no choice but to stand still."

A common thread that tied their stories together was the lack of support or assistance from event organisers or security personnel. The 31-year-old filmmaker, who was also groped, revealed that in order to avoid a panic attack, she had to close her eyes and focus on the music.

  • The sheer claustrophobia and chaos in the crowd made it clear that even if she did experience a panic attack, no one would have come to her aid, and the absence of volunteers or staff to help attendees added to the sense of abandonment.

The trauma extended beyond the concertgoers themselves. A 45-year-old woman, who had attended the concert with her daughter, spoke of the lasting impact this event had on her family. She recounted how her daughter, who had hoped for a memorable evening enjoying their favourite musician, was instead left traumatised. 

"All we wanted was one great evening listening to our favourite musician perform. But, instead, we got life-long trauma. I am just upset that my young daughter had to go through this experience."

These women, like many others, had chosen to attend the concert as ardent fans of Rahman. They had eagerly anticipated witnessing his musical magic, but what they encountered was far from magical. Instead, they were left physically and emotionally traumatised, wondering why their love for an artist had resulted in such a devastating experience.

"I don't think I will attend open concerts again in my life. It is so scary, and I'm not sure if I will go to an AR Rahman concert again if he doesn't take accountability. What he has said now is nothing but a half-hearted apology."

Rahman is yet to issue a comprehensive apology over the matter, having already posted a cryptic attempt at acknowledging the incident over social media.

Last updated: September 12, 2023 | 13:37
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