Talent across borders

We expect to face unforeseen situations in our lifetime. But few of us expected to encounter the unprecedented global event of COVID-19 that has changed our lives, perhaps forever.

It is said, we are just an iota in the universe. We invariably must bow down to the might of nature. The long lockdown has challenged our way of life. The physical alienation from friends and family by virtue of social distancing, and the economic and mental stress has taken its toll. Who would have ever imagined that ‘distancing’ would be considered ‘social’ or ‘isolation’ would become the panacea for the ailing? It has made us look for new ways to connect with each other and support each other.

The most talked-about activity during the COVID-19 lockdown, other than predicting number of cases was ‘developing a new skill’. And for skill development, people would resort to various online resources, due to restrictions on any physical contact with a tutor.  What about talent? Would it not be a great idea, if one is able to discover an inherent talent in oneself, without the support of a coach or tutor?

Naysayers be damned – a vibrant group of forty-three music afficionados, across 18 locations globally, all over the age of forty, chose to turn the COVID-19 impasse on its head. It is often said that ‘birds of the same feather flock together’, and collaborations are formed out of commonalities. For this group of school friends, the commonality was the love for each other and music. They had connected a few years back when they celebrated their silver jubilee alumni meet. But during the COVID lockdown these friends were able to find a unique way to renew old ties, rekindle brotherhood, and unite across continents to create new memories that will remain dear for a long time!

To begin with, a WhatsApp group was formed by Prashant where one could chat about Bollywood movies and other topics. What started as an informal social media group soon evolved into a stage for encouraging members to share their take on quality music. Sunil, one of the most proficient singers in the group, on a whim, posted one of his songs in the group. Sunil, like Prashant, is based in Mumbai, and has been following his passion for singing for many years. The spark that was ignited in Mumbai, traversed all the way to Oakville, Canada and ended up encouraging Arup, another good singer in the group, to share his rendition of a Kishore Kumar classic. The group members followed cue and chimed in with their own attempts at favourite Bollywood, non-Bollywood- Hindi, English, and even Bengali songs.

It got interesting when spouses, mothers, and even kids’ contributions started pouring in. It was like the group had become one extended family that had finally discovered its roots.

Prashant proposed an idea- how about we make a musical video together! Shedding inhibitions was not easy for this middle-aged motley crew– more so when one is being recorded in the act. But encouragement from each other was not in short supply. The task at hand was to not only collaborate on singing an entire song, but they had to also create an original video for the song, with complete action, lip-sync, and drama.

The song “Pyar Hamein Kis Mod Pe Le Aaya” from the film Satte Pe Satta, was suggested by Anuj and was immediately accepted by everyone. This song from the famous Amitabh Bachchan starrer, is a comic portrayal of seven brothers who are hopelessly in love, pining for their partners. After the audio track of the song was pieced together with contributions from five singers- Arup, Sunil, Sukant, Anuj and Hetal- the real work started on the video.

Prashant meticulously planned and selected the role and scene for each of the participants, with the plan to add it all up into piece-de-resistance. What appeared as a simple and fun task in Prashant’s text message would turn out to be a near impossible gig to perform. Clothes, locations, frame position, expression, lip-sync, and coordination with the audio-track, required individual attention. By the end of it, the effort had instilled in the group a newfound appreciation for the institution of marriage – no kidding! As if orchestrating and recording were not difficult enough for the amateurs, the Director would crack a whip on a bad delivery!

The school friends had to shoot different scenes of varying durations, but all in the comfort of their homes. Mobile phone became the video camera, and clips were shot and sent to Prashant over WhatsApp. The effort elicited participation from not just the forty-three friends, but in a unique twist, involved their family members- wives, kids, and even pets.

The video clips were edited and compiled together by Prashant to make the final video on a Mac within the confines of his Mumbai home. What emerged as the final output was nothing short of the original classic. It had romance, drama, comedy, and action. In short, it was total entertainment, Bollywood Ishtyle.

The task, the journey and the outcome taught the school friends the importance of appreciating each other and the value of childhood friendship. The lockdown is difficult, but there are some silver linings still to be found. We have more time now than we had in the past, we have digital media at our disposal to continue virtual friendship and communication. The collaboration amongst school friends proved that difficult times can still bring out the best in us. It also made them take stock and appreciate the important things in their life- family and friendship, and a few precious moments together, all the better if captured in camera with good music in the background!

Link to the Video:

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.