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BAND WIDTH

Our correspondent tries to get people dance to his tune as a bandwallah,and realises it is not easy to keep up the pace

Our correspondent tries to get people dance to his tune as a bandwallah,and realises it is not easy to keep up the pace
My precious Sunday afternoon nap had gone for a toss as I waited at the Krishna Sunder Lawns in Pune for the wedding of Rajesh Bodke and Trupti Nalawade. They were strangers to me but I was as nervous as if it was the most important event of my life. Afterall,my association with music was going to have a dramatic shift —from being a casual listener,I was now going to try my hand at playing an instrument,that too in a shaadi ka band. And so,here I was,discussing “strategies” of making this baaraat a roaring success,with 21 bandwallahs of Darbar Brass Band,each of whom can play nearly a thousand songs.

While the mood of the baaratis would decide the sequence of the songs,the first song was fixed—Maa da ladla bigad gaya from Dostana. “They have to be party songs. I will play the first three beats and all of you must follow,” ordered Asif,manager of the band. I was dressed in a dark magenta coat with a yellow cross strap,black trousers,golden cap and a black belt. In my hour-long introductory session,I tried my hand at the saxophone and drums. Finally,it was the tambourine that found me. I was told to keep up with the beats of every song. My cue was to chime in with the drums. With a troupe of 21 musicians by my side,I was ready to get the show on the road.

As the bridegroom’s mare took her first steps on to the main road,the band was already in the middle of Maa da ladla bigad gaya. The next song on the list was a popular Marathi track,Kombdi palali,the song got a huge response from the already present baraatis and some bystanders too who joined in the jig.

I had never ever thought that I could make people dance this way,but witnessing nearly 25-30 baaratis dancing,jumping and making faces at each other,boosted my confidence even more. While some of the men in the crowd were whistling,others were doing the actions of flying a kite. Men,women and children- the entire crowd was dancing as if this was the most exciting moment of their lives! I tried to recollect the baraat at my own wedding,but the mismatched beats from my tambourine reminded me of my present job and the nostalgia trip was cut short.

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The toughest part of the job was to match the beats which included turning a deaf ear to song requests from dancing baaratis,wailing children,loud musicians.
After the third song,I felt paper-like things falling on my head. My first thought was,“It could be money!” I was happy about doing a great job,but before I could rush to collect the notes,I realised that it was not money but rose petals descending on my head.

I turned my attention back to keeping up with the beat of the song—a loud and peppy Dard-e-Disco. With every new song,the pace of the beats increased and so did my inability to cope with it.
By the time the band started playing the 20th song in the list,I had started struggling with my set of tambourines. The disagreement between me,my instrument and what was actually being played was clearly audible to my fellow bandwallahs. One of the baaratis who had also noticed my out-of-the-place beats came to my rescue. He pushed me into the group of dancing baaratis. It was a much easier job than matching the beats with my tambourine,but I wish I was dressed differently.
I re-joined the musicians the after shaking my leg a bit,and this time I tried not to miss the beat.