Sunday, February 2, 2014

Street singers and more



My late mother was an unsung film critic and a devoted K L Saigol fan. As a young woman in the 1930s, she along with her cousins (chaperoned by my grandmother) would rarely miss these classics. Her collection of 78 RPM records featuring Saigol, Pankhaj Malik, K C Dey, Kanan Bala and other celebrity singers of the era was a family treasure till the 1980s, when an unfortunate accident caused their total loss. There was one K L Saigol movie that was amongst her favorites – this film was titled ‘Street Singer’, wherein the hero appeared cradling a ‘harmonium’ and singing in the streets to eke a living.
Street singing is a vocation that has been in practice all over the world since centuries. In the Sub Continent this form of entertainment manifested itself in both rural and urban environments

 I cannot sign off this week’s column without mentioning the unforgettable character that once roamed the roads around Company Bagh in the Cantonment Area of Multan. Dressed in grubby western clothes, a cigarette perched between his lips, the man insisted on accosting total strangers in ‘Yinglish’. If one happened to respond, he would act as if he had met a long lost friend. This was the time to flee the spot, for if one did not do so, then a hand would latch on to one’s dress to be followed by a back to back performance of a series of Saigol songs, delivered to rouse the dead.

The writer belongs to a very old and established family of the Walled City. His forte is the study of History.

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