A healing concert in the window

Updated: Apr 12, 2020, 07:32 IST | Prutha Bhosle | Mumbai

A housing society in Oshiwara is giving major love thy neighbourhood goals to a city looking at a lockdown extension

Roshan Mansukhani with his console
Roshan Mansukhani with his console

On March 13, Italians—who have been worst hit by the Coronavirus pandemic—got together in their balconies in a show of solidarity. In video clippings that went viral the next day, an entire Roman neighbourhood was seen singing a popular song, Volare, from their balconies and windows. Three days later, major national and regional radio stations broadcast the country's national anthem, allowing residents in isolation to listen and sing together from behind closed doors. It gave everyone, around the world, hope. Hope that we will overcome this. And it is this same hope that has brought another neighbourhood together. This time, though, here in Mumbai.

Seen at his window
Seen at his window

The day the Prime Minister announced a nationwide lockdown till April 14, 48-year-old Roshan Mansukhani took to music in a show of triumph of spirit. "I am a music therapist; I use music and songs to heal people. I have used this medium to help teenagers overcome drug addiction," Mansukhani, who previously ran an event management firm, says. So, on the evening of March 24, he brought his console closer to the window and started playing classic hits by Mohammed Rafi, Arijit Singh and Atif Aslam. As he dropped the first beat, the residents of Oshiwara's Shantivan Society, where he lives, were wrapped up in a community spirit. "It was a hit, people loved it. We also have a WhatsApp group, where people started to make song requests. I changed my playlist according to everyone's taste. It was surreal."

 Residents enjoy the music from their windows. The concert starts around 6 pm and lasts 30 minutes every alternate evening. Pics/Ashish Rane
Residents enjoy the music from their windows. The concert starts around 6 pm and lasts 30 minutes every alternate evening. Pics/Ashish Rane

From that day on, Mansukhani started playing music every alternate day between 6 pm and 7 pm. "Everyone is under lockdown and obviously feels trapped behind these walls. So, quarrelling with family is inevitable. This is why I decided to use music to heal, even though it is for merely 30 minutes, people look forward to it. And, after every session, all the tenants of seven buildings in our complex feel stress free. No complaints whatsoever."

 Residents enjoy the music from their windows. The concert starts around 6 pm and lasts 30 minutes every alternate evening. Pics/Ashish Rane

It is not just Mansukhani who is doing his bit to keep the merriment going in the society. Scriptwriter, anchor and poet Archana Johri, wife of late lyricist Raajesh Johri, is another member who has joined the bandwagon.

 Residents enjoy the music from their windows. The concert starts around 6 pm and lasts 30 minutes every alternate evening. Pics/Ashish Rane

On April 5, when the nation lit candles and diyas in support of the PM's call, Johri posted a three-minute-long video on social media. "I wrote a song on solidarity and the importance of it, especially in times like these. When my friends and colleagues found out I was doing a video to go with the song, they wanted to be a part of it. So, we all took selfie videos and, after compiling them together, we posted the song on Facebook on April 5," she says. Their mission is to use music and words to relieve mental and physical stress. "We are all in this together, and our music is just a reminder that this too shall pass," she concludes.

Music in Gujarat

Shwetaank Gupta, 27, an Ahmedabad resident, shuttles between Malad and his hometown. Since the lockdown was imposed, Gupta, a Berklee College of Music alumnus returned to Gujarat to stay with his family. But every day, he makes it a point to play a song or two for his neighbours from his window. "It has now become a routine. My neighbours look forward to evenings so I can play some soothing Hindi music for them. Music has really been a saviour for all of us."

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