Mumbai Elvis Presley fan to perform at tribute gig to late musical legend

Updated: Feb 12, 2018, 14:58 IST | Shunashir Sen | Mumbai

Ahead of his Elvis Presley tribute gig, a life-long fan looks back on the legacy that the legend left behind

Mehmood Curmally
Mehmood Curmally

The fact that there is an Elvis Presley tribute gig scheduled in the city this week made us wonder, how relevant is Elvis in the 21st century? We remember that even when we were in our early teens in the 1990s, the American sensation's songs were a gateway into western music for a lot of our peers. But then the Internet took off, and music consumption patterns went through a sea change. A glut of electronic sounds were churned out from the factory lines of music production companies, and EDM artistes became the industry's darlings. So, given the times that we live in, where does Elvis really fit in?

Elvis Presley. Pic/Getty Images
Elvis Presley. Pic/Getty Images

"Well, it's true that Elvis is no longer as relevant as he used to be," says Mehmood Curmally, the 54-year-old who will be performing the tribute. "But, there's also no doubt that his music is timeless. And the kind of melodies that he has produced can easily be made into a fabulous performance if you put energy into it. I mean, I have had kids come up to me after my concerts and say, 'Wow, I love that music, it's so good! I have never heard Elvis before.' So in that sense, he still figures in the current scheme of things," he adds.

Mehmood Curmally with his band members
Mehmood Curmally with his band members

Curmally also recalls that his own initiation into Elvis's music began in 1977, on the day the singer died. "I remember it really vividly. My dad [Amir Curmally, who started Kala Ghoda's iconic music store, Rhythm House] used to listen to BBC Radio at the time and I was sitting on our balcony with my sister around 7.30 in the morning, when he walked out with a shell-shocked face saying, 'Elvis Presley is dead.' I was 14 then and even though I sympathised with my dad, I did not really understand how big that incident was. But a few years later, a movie called Elvis - That's the Way It Is came to town. I loved it so much that I ended up watching it around eight times. And ever since then, the man has been an idol for me," he reveals.

So much so, that Curmally went to Graceland and spent 10 days there last year for Elvis Week, which is held annually at the singer's Memphis home to mark his death anniversary. "This edition was a big one because it was the 40th anniversary. So, all the 10 winners from the last 10 years of the Elvis tribute contest held there were on one stage together. And that is really rare, because all these guys have become big names now and don't have the time to get together like this. They are busy with activities like cruise shows, which involve cruise liners filled only with Elvis fans and these big guys performing for them," he recalls.

Which indicates that at least in the West, Elvis mania hasn't quite subsided. But, it seems to be a different story in India. "There are only two people I know in the entire country who do tribute concerts for Elvis, one of them being me. And it's not easy to get a gig. When I tell people what I play, they are like, 'Oh, achha, Elvis tribute is it? I don't know how that will go down.' That's typically how it happens," Curmally says, indicating that when it comes to our part of the world then, it may be that Elvis is slowly starting to leave the building.

On February 8, 8.30 pm
At Hard Rock Café, Worli.
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