Civic workers, clerks, officials prove age is just a number as they belt out Bollywood numbers at zany stage show
K Kshirsagar and Rashmi Luktuke with an organiser check the technicals as the programme begins. Pics/Satej Shinde
Age is just a number, announced the compere with a flourish of her spangled sari on stage, and all the 58 plus year-olds made it, ‘age is just a number, we can prove it by singing this number’. A group of seniors claimed the stage at a function with the self-assertive name, ‘Hum Kisi Se Kam Nahin’ at a Andheri (W) venue on Wednesday evening. It was an effervescent evening of Bollywood songs, sung solo.
Most of these singers were government or semi-government retirees, “they always yearned to perform on stage, in front of an audience. Full-time jobs meant they had little time to pursue a passion,” said K Kshirsagar, former joint commissioner, BMC. Kshirsagar was organiser of the programme, ‘Hum Kisi Se Kam Nahin’. Said Kshirsagar, “I too always had a passion for singing. A career in the BMC and scaling the top rungs meant there was no time. Post-retirement, I pursued this and now riyaaz (practise) is a feature of my life. I have performed at a couple of stage shows too. Look at these singers here and their age, they will be singing the most peppy songs and many numbers are romantic too.”
Dattaram Pednekar regales the audience on Wednesday evening
For Rashmi Luktuke, singing coach, it is all about giving people a platform. “There is talent, fire and dedication. Yet, there is no platform. I started my organisation, ‘Swar Rashmi Kalamanch’ to give novices and accomplished artistes a platform, under which this programme is taking place. Singing solo in front of an audience also builds self-belief and confidence. Look at some of these singers, they will sing and even dance, belying their age.”
That is what Dattaram Pednekar did when he came up on stage. The former head clerk of a polytechnic made light of his 71 years with a strong voice, putting on a quirky hat mid-performance and matching the melody with some nifty footwork, earning whistles and wah-wahs in return. Ravindranath Patil, former deputy chief engineer, Water Department of the BMC said, “singing had always interested me since college. Today, I feel blessed to have a platform like this.”
There seems to be a plethora of persons in our civic administration, who are musically-inclined. Satish Jadhav, singer, former BMC officer, has an array of hobbies. “From trekking to cycling and singing of course,” he said with a smile as the evening wore on. “I have criss-crossed India on cycle. I am an ardent fan of the anti-pollution cause. Live close to nature and you will get returns,” he said.
Most singers sang golden oldies. Extensive practice meant the voices stayed steady, without a quaver. Vasant Naphade, 76, believes it is all about balance. “Some singers do abstain from certain kinds of food, cold drinks to maintain their voice. I am disciplined when it comes to practice, but may indulge. I may eat a vadapav and then have a healthy salad to balance that out!” he said with a laugh as others cheered.
Deepak Kadam, a retired bank cashier, said that a cashier he had been, but songs were the real ‘numbers’ that held him in thrall. “My all-time favourites are Mohammed Rafi and Asha Bhosale,” he said while participant Subhash Pavekar cabin crew (retd.) had Kishore Kumar on his list. At 75, singing teacher Lata Mirashi said, “Bollywood remixes are a contemporary twist but I would encourage singers to first learn the originals,” while Shailaja Kanade who used to work in the BMC education department, wound up, “I sing classical but Bollywood songs generally draw in a bigger audience. This is a dream,” she said, mouthing the sentiments of all who said their government jobs may sound extremely prosaic, but somewhere there was an inner artiste, “which has been brought out now.”