In a dry season for wedding bands, Kishore Yadav can thank the elections. As a Congress rally in North West takes off on foot from 9 am, dressed in bright yellow, Yadav, aged 65, walks at its helm blowing into his tutari (blowhorn) to announce Sanjay Nirupam’s entry.
Playing the musical instrument since 18 years, Yadav says he earns the most during Assembly and Lok Sabha elections, when the rates for walking with a rally are Rs 3,000-5,000. “I have played the instrument in several of Urmila Matondkar’s rallies this time,” the Kandivali resident says. In the past, he played for BJP politicians during January 26 celebrations and for MNS chief Raj Thackeray’s functions.
On Monday, from 9 am till 1 pm, the senior citizen walked over six km under the harsh sun from Jogeshwari’s Kadam Nagar till Veera Desai, covering a circuitous route snaking through slums and chawls. Every time Nirupam was slated to enter a new slum, he and his partner Deepak Jadhav (48) started playing the tutari, bringing in gawkers and supporters, while workers with the job of showering flower petals readied themselves as the Congress candidate walked in.
“Functions are easier. We play the instrument before a politician enters and then rest as speeches start. The hard work is in the rallies,” Yadav says. He has taught his son the instrument, and he too is encashing his tutari skills this election season.
His partner Jadhav says they need good control over breathing and have to constantly drink water. Sometimes political parties demand percussion instruments, and Yadav gets a Nagada. “That requires more energy as I have to play as I walk,” he says, as he wipes his brow and halts at a sugarcane stall for a quick break.
Jadhav motions him to rejoin the procession as it moves forward. Yadav mounts the brass instrument over his shoulder. Every time a party worker signals, he places one hand under the mouth of tutari, the other on its curve, and blows into it. “We have been playing together since seven years. Summers are tough as there are hardly any weddings. We don’t support any party, we go wherever we are called,” Jadhav says.
With Mumbai elections slated on April 29, the duo is reaching out to other parties to check whether their services are required. “But most parties play campaign songs these days on loudspeakers. Our competition is with that,” Jadhav adds.