"Elvis can be a friend, lover, or anything you want him to be through his music. While singing, he could make you feel like only one person mattered to him in this world at that moment — you. That was his talent," says Fali Singara, a city-based RJ and self-confessed Elvis Presley fan. Today, on the 40th death anniversary of the rock and roll legend, who gave us hits like Jailhouse Rock and Blue Suede Shoes, Singara will host a number of Elvis specials at the radio station where he works.
He's not alone in his love for The King. Tonight, if you walk into Bandra's retro-themed watering hole, Door No 1, you will witness Elvis himself take the stage and croon sweetly about how he can't help falling in love with you. But the man you will see, decked in the spangled white jumpsuit complete with tassels, and sporting Elvis' iconic hairdo, is the 40-year-old Siddharth Meghani, who has been an Elvis impersonator since he was 18. He is excited about tonight, and shares that his two-hour set includes "40 Elvis numbers, from popular tracks like Are You Lonesome Tonight, to less-known numbers such as Love Me."
Singara, meanwhile, is also the president of Mumbai's Elvis Fan Club, which has over 500 members. He tells us, "The goal is to keep his memory alive. A few of us meet on his birth or death anniversary every year, and watch a movie or documentary, or listen to some of his music."
Siddharth Meghani as Elvis Presley
For both Singara and Meghani, the fascination with Elvis started early on. The former was introduced to the icon by his father. "Elvis, unfortunately, passed away in the '70s, and I was born in the '80s, but he was an integral part of my childhood," says Singara, whose collection spans over 350 vinyls and other memorabilia, including two items signed by The King himself. Meghani, meanwhile, started doing Elvis impersonations at family parties when we was around 12, and landed his first gig at Jazz by the Bay a few years later.
Meghani's collection includes Elvis-themed shot glasses
But possibly among Elvis' earliest fans are Pune residents Rajiv Jacobi and Zahir Chinoy, who founded the Elvis Presley Fan Club of India in 1972. Chinoy, now 75, has a whole basement dedicated to memorabilia. "I have original posters, all his records, which run into a couple of hundreds, and even a picture signed by Elvis," he shares. Jacobi, 63, still runs the 2,000-member-strong fan club. "We have meet-ups and organise gigs with artistes like Gary Lawyer every once in a while," he says.
Fali Singara at Elvis Presley's final resting place
Going to great lengths
Meghani has toured most of the country for his Elvis acts, and says he loves performing in Pune in particular. He also remarks that a trip to Graceland, Elvis's estate in Memphis, Tennessee, has been on his bucket list for long, and he even came close to ticking it off this year. "Unfortunately, something came up and I couldn't go. I'll certainly visit next year," he says.
A rare edition of Elvis' 40 Greatest from Singara's collection
Singara has been lucky in that regard. Not only has he had the privilege of visiting the legend's home and seen his collection of cars and awards, he has also interacted with many of the icon's friends. "All of them said he was one of the nicest people you'd ever meet, and that fame never affected him," he shares, adding that on his visit to the US, he also hosted a couple of radio shows live from Graceland for an American radio network.
A signed photograph from 1955
All four are excited to see young blood taking an interest in Elvis' works. Meghani shares that while old-timers make up a lot of his audience, there are youngsters, too, who know the lyrics to all the songs. Chinoy agrees. "Elvis died before these kids were even born, but they love him. That's how amazing his voice is."
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