Mumbai: Humming Bird's singers prove life after work has a soulful rhythm

Mar 15, 2016, 06:55 IST | Maleeva Rebello

The hills or, should that be the hall was alive with the sound of music this past weekend. The Mysore Association Hall in Matunga was the venue of the second ‘Humming Birds Show’ on Sunday, which saw old, romantic songs from the 1940s to the 1980s, sung by a group of 28 amateur singers. With a mix of solos and duets, the 300 seater hall had everyone grooving to the melodies. The Humming Birds Show was a non-ticketed event, it was for friends and family of the group of 28, which sings just for fun.

Deepak Shah (l) and Neeta Upadhaya (r) from Humming Birds sing a duet as the live orchestra plays. Pics/Sameer Markande
Deepak Shah (l) and Neeta Upadhaya (r) from Humming Birds sing a duet as the live orchestra plays. Pics/Sameer Markande

For 10 years, this singing group, comprising a majority of people over 60, with the oldest member being 77-year-old Yusuf Muchala, High Court advocate, has been meeting together and singing as a group, because it is a huge stress buster. These are not professional singers but a motley group of entrepreneurs, legal eagles, a former general manager of Mazgaon Docks, and a couple of individuals who work in Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs).

The Humming Birds group is made up of 28 members, most of who are senior citizens
The Humming Birds group is made up of 28 members, most of who are senior citizens

Kishore Parulekar, entrepreneur and Humming Bird member said, “We started meeting in Khalsa College (Matunga) about 10 years ago, as part of a group called Swaranjali. Then, some of us decided to break away from Swaranjali to form a smaller group. We started Humming Birds two years ago.”

Their singing is accompanied by an orchestra comprising a harmonium, keyboard, tabla players and a flautist. They pay out of their pocket for the orchestra, and hire it every Sunday for their practice gigs at the Amulakh Amichand School in King’s Circle (Matunga, next to Arora theater). They pay R 9,500 for every practice session, for the orchestra.

Pravin Shringarpure, former General Manager (GM) of Mazgaon Docks said, “I was a singer in college, but, once I started working, there was no time to sing. Post retirement, I have started singing and learning music.”
“It is the passion for music that brings us together every Sunday. If I don’t come for one week, I feel I have missed a day in my life. I am now possessed by song. I always sing in my mind,” said Hema Gandhi, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Public Relations (PR) and Communications head of an NGO called The Paraplegic Foundation.

A L Sharada, director of NGO Laadli, which works for women’s empowerment, Humming Birds said, “When I first came to Mumbai from Jaipur, I had no friends. I decided to join a hobby class. I met this wonderful group and found friends for life. I am not a great singer, but this non-judgmental group has made me keep humming and stay stress-free.”

The oldest member of the group is 77-year-old High Court advocate Yusuf Muchhala. He said, “The courtroom is a world of turmoil. There is a lot of competition to win cases. Music helps me let my hair down and express myself in a much peaceful and fulfilling way.”

Sion resident and social worker, Neeta Upadhaya says music and this group have saved her life. “Music is therapy which soothes the soul. I now teach singing to cancer afflicted children at Tata Hospital. I did not know to sing and now I teach singing, my life has changed because of Humming Birds,” she said.

Parth Saarthi, an educationist who is also part of the group said, “We look forward to Sundays and practice our songs through the week.”

Now, this group will have a sub-group soon (some singers will be rom Humming Birds, others will be fresh inductees) which will meet on weekdays and sing songs in Marathi.

“Music is soothing, and keeps you young. Many of us have our music classes but we come here to get rejuvenated,” ends Sushila Maheshwari, Chembur resident, putting a final flourish on the singing signature.

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