As a kid, I wanted to grow up to be Amitabh Bachchan. My obsession with the Big B continued till my early teens when I heard Deep Purple’s Highway Star for the first time in a Philips commercial on TV. Ian Gillan’s voice mapped out my life before me. I knew instinctively I wanted to be the lead singer of my own band someday.
My vocal chords wreaked havoc for everyone at home and in the neighbourhood all through my remaining teenage years. But some ex-girlfriends from the area will tell you how they still cherish the memories of my voice tearing through the morning hours with renditions of the erstwhile hard rock chart toppers. Soon I enrolled in my college band for vocal duties. But it wasn’t until I moved to Mumbai that I tasted some success in the independent scene. All along, I remained fiercely loyal to the music that had inspired me through my formative years. But a recent gig changed a few things forever.
It was my last gig of 2013. Ace guitar player Chandresh Kudwa had invited me to guest-appear at a concert in Rajkot. I knew this would mean that the set list would comprise several popular Bollywood hits… which in turn would mean that I would need to step outside my comfort zone to get the diction right. I had never sung in Hindi before… well, at least not professionally. Truth be told, I was nervous, so much so that I barely got any sleep on the night before the show. However, the vibe between the musicians was so good when we met at the airport that all tension was soon left behind.
When we touched down at Rajkot, all eyes traced our exteriors like we were aliens. The tattoos and the guitar cases served as good conversation starters. The overly inquisitive were politely informed that the show was at Neel’s City Club. All through the craziness, I managed to wear a smile in spite of being very sleep-deprived. My composure could have stemmed from the fact that I was banking a lot on this show.
At The Fern Residency where we were lodged. Chandresh and I chose to share the same room. Between naps, we exchanged wisdom, knowledge, and the little things that matter. We had known each other for over 14 years. But it felt like the ‘real connection’ had just been established. I’ve always believed that when musicians work together, they need to be friends first. That’s exactly what was happening. My respect for Chandresh increased manifold in the course of the day… particularly after I inadvertently overheard his conversation with his wife and daughter on the phone. Behind his rockstar exterior lay a loving soul that found comfort in the simpler joys of life. Guitar players aren’t usually that easy. Chandresh was clearly an exception.
The mercury dropped sharply as the sun faded out of view. 4 degree Celsius at soundcheck, and it was only going to get colder. The stage was big and generously dressed with lights. It was perched by the side of a swimming pool… one that had been emptied to house the audience. There was ample room to run around and to even climb down into the audience. So I had figured just exactly how to keep warm.
The clock eventually struck 10:00. It was time to rock n’ roll. As the band exploded onto the stage, I was nervous no more. It is believed to be important for people to have that single most important thing in their lives which shuts everything else out… that single most important thing which consumes their very existence. Facing an audience standing 10 feet tall with a microphone in hand is that single most important thing for me. I whispered a prayer, took a leap of faith, and landed with both feet firmly together. The audience flashed their teeth and made me their own. Everyone visibly had made the right choice… the band, the organizers, the audience, the engineers… and most of all, me.
Chandresh played like a man on fire, as did Nawaz (Hussain) on drums, and Crosby (Fernandes) on bass. Here’s a brief bootleg video of the show that I compiled this Republic Day. In the intro, I tried to underscore my pride of being an Indian. I must however admit that for the most part of my life, I’ve never really cared to master Hindi, the language that’s popularly considered India’s national language. At the end of the gig, I realized I was able to connect with the people of Rajkot just because I sang in Hindi. Watch the clipping of ‘Give Me Some Sunshine’. Before introducing the song, I urged all parents in the audience to encourage their children to lead the lives they really want to. The words ‘Sare Umar Hum Mar Marke Ji Liye, Ek Pal Toh Ab Hume Jine Doh Jine Doh’ followed. The emotional grip this had on the audience was beyond beautiful. I had to skip a line or two just so I could get a grip on myself. A few tears of gratitude escaped me too.
It was a little after 1 am when Chandresh and I returned to our hotel room. The number sequence ‘1:11’ flashed on my cellphone as I switched it on. Always intrigued by things that science is too young to explain, I googled it to see what it meant. Here’s what I found.
“Angel Number 111 is a message from your angels to be very aware of your persistent thoughts and ideas as these are manifesting quickly into your reality. Ensure that your beliefs, thoughts and mind-sets are positive and optimistic in order to draw the energies of abundance and balance into your life. Angel Number 111 signifies that an energetic gateway has opened up for you, and this will rapidly manifest your thoughts into your reality.”
A few more tears of gratitude ran down my face as I lay awake in bed in the dark stillness of the night. I lost no time to call my mother to tell her how happy I was. I thanked her for raising me to be who I am, for putting up with my never-ending eccentricities, and for looking out for me at all times. I am well aware that I’d be nothing had it not been for her. By this time, my jaded body almost had me convinced that I’d fall asleep any moment. But sleep escaped me for hours. Deep inside, I felt just the way I did as a teenager when I heard Ian Gillan’s voice in that TV commercial 20 years back. My life had changed again. I had found something new to identify with. How could I sleep when my big awakening had just happened? Well, I didn’t. And from this point on, I most certainly will not.
Article by - 2Blue
2Blue (aka Tirthankar Poddar) forayed into the Mumbai rock circuit in 2000. Having gained notoriety for his powerful high-pitched singing and on-stage charisma, he was soon invited to sing for Vayu. After 5 years in Vayu and countless monumental shows, 2Blue formed the hard rock band Zedde (pronounced z?d). Always a man for his heroes, the self-taught singer attributes his vocal prowess to his childhood heroes: David Coverdale, Joe Lynn Turner, Ian Gillan, Ronnie James Dio, and Bruce Dickinson. For him, if a thing was good once, it always is.