At the City Palace, Udaipur, shuffling in queue through a small room, filled with myriad representations of the present Maharajah and his mustache, we are entertained by Adnan Sami singing “Kabhi to nazar milao..”. A tall man holds his phone aloft with a smug smile, making sure that no one is left bereft of Adnan’s dulcet tones.
In the courtyard at Ranakpur, sitting under an old banyan tree, with the mind-boggling temple on one side, and the filthy toilets on the other, we can listen to Himesh Reshamiya’s ‘Jhalak dikhla jaa’. The man with the phone fiddles with it, to find another top 10 number for us while we steel ourselves to make the visit to the loo.
At the Goregaon East signal, a passenger in the rickshaw next to ours plays a remix of ‘Aaj kal tere mere pyaar ke charche’ for all those waiting at the signal. Blaring horns keep time.
At the local supermarket in Bumm-Bumm-Bhole-Land, we can shop for our daily provisions while dancing to ‘Singh is King’ played at a level to drown out the noise of wailing children, old people brought to the store for an outing, and the clang clang of the money tills.
At a party we need to attend for some reason, Teja and I still our quavering hearts when ‘Beedi jalaye le’ is played at 100 db and above by spending the rest of the evening nursing our drinks and our shattered ear drums on a stairs landing below the restaurant we are meant to be at.
At Britto’s on Baga beach, Teja gulps his vegetarian dinner in 5 minutes flat, and waits outside in the street for us to finish our meal. It is Karaoke night, and the amp is set to make sure that no one ignores the singing.
In Bumm-Bumm-Bhole-Land, we are woken up by Lata Mangeshkar singing “Vande Mataram” on the loudspeaker. Followed by ‘Saare jahan se achcha Hindustan hamara’, followed by a newer version of ‘Vande Mataram’. A session with local singing talent follows singing the same numbers as Lata-tai.
Now that Independence Day is done and we have asserted our patriotism for the year, we will celebrate our freedom to make noise with Ganesh Chaturthi, Navratri, Durga Puja, Diwali, Christmas and New Year’s Eve by playing filmi music in pandals set up in every housing complex and every street corner. We will also celebrate our unity in diversity by playing the same filmi music at every sundry small festival and procession. Then of course, we will have the wedding season where our local brass band will play a set of the latest 10 filmi hits, and a set of 10 filmi classic wedding numbers for all the weddings in the block.
We are a musically inclined nation. And music is not music to us, unless everybody’s grandmother and at least a 100 other people can feel the beat we are swaying to. Now that we have the money to buy phones that play music and to set up pandals with the biggest speakers, for every occasion, we can prove to the world that Indians too can have fun.
Happy Independence Day!