Bathroom singers who turned into stage singers



Are you a bathroom singer and want to perform in a drawing room. If given a chance on a stage too? You can. And you don’t have to perform on the stage standing under a shower as shown in a lousy TV programme on bathroom singers some months back.

A Mumbai based group, Swara Sampada, led by two doctors has done it. They groom bathroom singers into stage performers. Some of them are now learning the seven swars. Don’t ask their age. The range is huge- from five to 70 plus.

When I had first come to know about the group, I had dismissed it as a publicity stunt. But the concept sounded thrilling. The probe started. Little search on the net and there it was, 40 odd members (families) from varied backgrounds and age bound by their special love for music. (Members include scientists, doctors, lawyers, academicians and magistrates. Housewives too)

Their mission statement was impressive, ‘To convert bathroom singers into drawing room singers and drawing room singers into stagesingers.’ It’s a mission accomplished.

I immediately got in touch with the founder-presidents Dr Ajay Singh and Dr Vijay Thakkar. Pat came an invite to attend their two-day long musical picnic at Silvassa. Musical picnic. Could be quite fascinating. I decided to join the group.

And what an experience! For 48 hours we had music, music and music. All of them performed on their makeshift stage, orchestra played in the background. Believe me, they made me perform too. Initially I was nervous. But the encouragement was huge. In tune or out of tune, I enjoyed every bit of it. I was singing, not in the bathroom.

Perhaps it’s because of the vow that they take. Music would remain the common binding force, the life of their fraternity. They would be self-less, not egoistic, dedicated to the almighty. They also take vow to be keen listeners as careful listening is 60 percent music. The rest 40 per cent is talent (10 per cent), understanding (10 percent) and riyaz (20 per cent)

There I met 75-years-old PS Sokhi. His face sparkled with every wah-wah even as his wife on a wheel-chair smiled shyly. Seeing his wrinkled fingers move efficiently on his slick Hawaiin guitar, it was actually hard to believe that he was holding the plectrum (guitar pick) after four decades.

Later, I learnt that Sokhi learned guitar in his teens listening to popular player of his generation late Hazara Singh. He is now picking up formal lessons from Janardhan Bhoir. “I used to passionately play guitar till some personal reasons forced me to discontinue it. I am so grateful to them that they encouraged me to resume my hobby,” said a beaming Sokhi who has now hosted a website to popularize Hawaiin guitar. An odd man out in the group of amateur singers, Sokhi epitomized the special spirit that binds Swara Sampada.

Ajay Singh, a singer himself, explained the way they go about it.

The group holds ten-hour long monthly music sessions. They also hold practice sessions in small groups. Some of them, even in their twilight zones, are now taking elementary classes from a music teacher.

So far they have done 50 performances, from small with an audience of 100 to 150 to a jam-packed hall with a crowd of 1000. Housewife Nirmala after her maiden performance told me excitedly, “There was no jeering or booing as they knew we were not professional singers. In fact many in the audience got the confidence to take up singing. Age is no barrier.”

While bidding adieu to Mumbai last week I called them up. The advice came on dotted lines, “Why don’t you form Swara Swampada in Lucknow? We are willing to provide all guidance.”

Why not, I wondered. Who doesn’t want to sing? Those who can’t sing in public do croon like me in their bathrooms. I might form one. How about you? Log onto the Swara Sampada website to know more about the concept and their track record.

I will end with their vow, “All of us are co-travellers on a musical odyssey. We shall sing along with each other, enjoy each other’s singing and each other’s company, till the end of our lives. We hope and pray that as and when the end comes, it comes with a song on our lips.”

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  • Prabhu Razdan

    Many hospitals run light music as it suits the patients and help in their improvement.
    The life of 75 plus who enjoy music through this Swara Sampada initiative will certainly help
    them stay healthy with `enjoyment’ as its bonus. I suppose I should also join this group or we better form our own–but not an easy task. Anyway good piece.
    regards
    Prabhu Razdan
    9868892811

    [Reply]

    sunita Reply:

    Hi Prabhu

    Music definitely enhances performance. And in personal life adds to happiness. After attending this bathroom singer’s musical picnic, I can say it adds to confidence also. Some of the housewives who were too shy to speak in public were vying with each other to sing.

    [Reply]

    sunita Reply:

    Hi Varsha,

    Thanks. Great to know that your husband is duplicate version of Rafi Saheb. Perhaps he is one singer that’s hard to imitate-what depth – what range – your husband must be a great singer

    [Reply]

  • meena

    Wow what an article!! Wish they had this service in Delhi too. I am told I am tone deaf but I love music. I love whatever notes het filtered into my years and my only complaint to God is that why was I not blessed with even reasonable singing skills. I am right away going to visit their site to see if there is any hope for people like me. I am by the way 62 years old and a Professor.

    [Reply]

    sunita Reply:

    Hi Meena,

    Age is no barrier. People are learning at the age of 70 years. Why don’t you float a group like this- start with five friends and let it grow. We have musical evenings, but not of bathroom singers. Believe me some of my friends , who had not even a distant connection with music, started humming and enjoying it. We called it ‘ bhajan mandali’ as no one could sing alone after the first line. Form your own swar sampada and let me know too.

    [Reply]

  • http://swarasampada.com Meenakshi

    Hi Sunita,

    This is Meenakshi, one of the member of “SWARA SAMPADA”family.Though i missed th opportunity of meeting you at silvaasa as was unable to come for the picnic but am really very happy to know you through this very informative n lovely post …
    As you have already mentioned about the concept n the passion the members have in ths group….i would just like to inform you that there is immense love ,respect n regards that we all have for each other which is th binding force alongwith the music being the primary one.
    Very beautifully penned lyrics “sukh ke sab saathi,dukh mein naa koi”….proves to be wrong in ths exceptional group as here dukh mein bhi sab saathi hain….& i can vouch for that by my personal experience….
    So here goes a sincere THANKS to Dr Ajai Singh & Dr Vijay Thakkar………

    Meenakshi.

    [Reply]

    sunita aron Reply:

    Yes Meenakshi

    the bonding that I saw was amazing. I am a music buff but born with bad vocal chords. But the members encouraged me so much that even I too was holding the mike in my hand the second day. what I sang I don’t know but the claps and the applause encouraged me to continue–
    I really wish there are more swara sampadas in the country. We have a group but newspaper working means late nights. So the sessions are once in the bluemoon. But people are coming forth with suggestions, lets see how it works out.
    tks for your post.

    [Reply]

    Adv. Varsha Manek Reply:

    Hi,

    I am Advocate Varsha Manek. My husband Advocate Sanjay Manek is a member of Swar Sampada. I approve to what meenakshi had stated above and they are all mad music lovers. Any time any where they are just a call away for singing. I have never seen such ardent music lovers anywhere. Its a very good platform for the members and their family. My husband is their duplicate version of Rafi Sahab. He is an ardent fan of Respected Mohammed Rafiji, that the whole group celebrates his anniversary which falls on 31st july by singing his songs all throughout the night, without caring for sleep. “Aaj kaise so sakte hai, aaj to unke gane ga kar unko yaad karna chahiye”. Thanks to Dr. Ajai Singh and Dr. Vijay Thakker

    [Reply]

    sunita Reply:

    Thanks Meenakshi for the invite. I would have luved to attend it. But I have moved to Lucknow since then. May be whenever I am in Mumbai next

    [Reply]

    Ashok Reply:

    Hi I would like to become a member of Swar Sampada. I would be obliged
    if someone on this forum can be a guide.

    Thanks
    Ashok

    [Reply]

  • Advocate Sanjay Manek

    i m member of Swara Sampada. I await for 3 rd Sunday of the month when we have our monthly programe. i enjoy singing. It removes all stress of life and i am charged up after progrme for the next month. It is great to be part of Swara Sampada. Thanks..to our presient and all the Swara Sampadites.

    [Reply]

    sunita Reply:

    Yes music is a stress buster Mr Sanjay. I am sure more and more people will form similar groups in the country.

    [Reply]

    farzil Reply:

    hello everyone…i am an ardent music buff…particularly kishore da and mohammed rafi sahab….i have been a decent bathroom singer all my life….the other was reading an article on swara sampada and i really want to come one sunday….i am frm mumbai…..so how do i go about it….is there any ste where i have to register….plz lemme know all the details….thnks
    f…..

    [Reply]

  • http://swarasampada.com Meenakshi

    Hi Sunita,
    Meenakshi again.

    Sunita ,m sending this to inform you in advance that we will be Offering our heartfelt tribute to resp Rafi ji on 31st july by singing his beautiful melodies during our rain picnic …
    You are cordially invited for the same if at all possible for you to make it from 31st july to 2nd aug 09.
    It will be held somewhere near Mumbai,most probably Ganapati Phule’s beach resort.
    Do let me know if interested.

    Rgds n best wishes,
    Meenakshi.

    [Reply]

    sunita Reply:

    Thanks Meenakshi for the invite. I would have luved to attend it, but I have moved to Lucknow since then.

    [Reply]

  • marks

    it gives great relief to most of the patients through music of their taste
    thanks
    dr. mehta

    [Reply]

  • farzil

    hello everyone…i am an ardent music buff…particularly kishore da and mohammed rafi sahab….i have been a decent bathroom singer all my life….the other was reading an article on swara sampada and i really want to come one sunday….i am frm mumbai…..so how do i go about it….is there any ste where i have to register….plz lemme know all the details….thnks
    f…..

    [Reply]

  • Abu Ahmed

    Who blasted Makka Masjid in Hyderabad? Who exploded bombs in Ajmer & Malegaon? If the NIA can find answers to these questions, they can also find answers to the questions raised in the above article.

    [Reply]

    Anonymous Reply:

    Osama and his supporters in India like you.

    [Reply]

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XAVBIBSZW4ITEUU7A4MJXBIXVU Saahil

    Why only a comparison, now the best deals tips, reviews and features at:- http://www.mycarhelpline.com

    [Reply]

  • Anonymous

    Sir bahut achi soch hai aapki keep it up sir

    [Reply]

  • kapil chauhan

    mera gb road jaane ka mann toh bahut karta hai lekin mere pass paise ni hote.

    [Reply]

  • Gorg

    I really would like to help this women to help her children to grow up healthy people in the society. this is my phone number 9711939302

    [Reply]

  • vROonn

    aaz b farishtey zindaa hain
    AAMEEN!! AAMEEN!!

    [Reply]

  • kripa Joseph

    yeh samaaj ki gandagi ko saaf kerti hai. verna aadmi itan jyada hawas ka pyaasa ho jaye ki apne ghar ki maa, bahen & aur beti k saath apni hawas mitaye. hum inko “Thanx” bolte hai jo iss samaj ko bachaye rakhti hai. lekin yeh samaaj inko ek gande nazar se dekhta hai. meri appel hai ki inko bhi samaaj m vahee jagah milni chaaheeye jo ek aam nagrik ko milti hai kyuki yeh samaj ko bachak rakhi hai.

    [Reply]

  • Sandeep

    Bad journalism…cheap aspirations…lack of self awareness , misnformation and disinformation…all included in this article…if Barrista is your criterion for culture…that is sad,,,Many of these backpackers are probably more educated and richer than you….

    [Reply]

  • Guest

    I’d advise Naomi to bath in the Ganges at Benares and dismiss once for all the idea the holy river is polluted. I bathed in it in the late 60’s and caught nothing after years in India….

    Goa? ….Got what it deserved.! Alas. I prefer the local fishing community to any trance party. And now with the Israeli soldiers and the Russian mafias expect the worst.

    A friend.

    [Reply]