A blind singer belting out a few notes on a battered harmonium on a street corner or in the compartment of a local train -- a common enough sight in a crowded country where the poor struggle to earn a living. But what if we were to tell you that behind the grime, the tattered clothes and the dirty, unkempt hair is a celebrity?
Singer Sonu Nigam has pulled off a stunt in Mumbai once attempted in 2007 by American violinist Joshua Bell who dressed up as a busker at a metro station in Washington and played the violin for 45 straight minutes with only one woman identifying him out of the hundreds that passed him by.
In a video, that has now gone viral, Nigam is seen sitting by a roadside in Juhu with a harmonium that has clearly seen better days, and singing the title song from 'Kal Ho Na Ho' and other ghazals. Unrecognisable in a shaggy, salt-and-pepper beard, dark glasses and dirty clothes, Nigam attracts a handful of onlookers who pause to listen to him, drawn by his mellifluous voice. One young man even whips out his phone to record a song.
Nigam says his 'Roadside Ustaad' is a social experiment to remind a singularly-focussed generation that's on its way to work without a glance around, that there are wonderful things happening all around them, if they'd only stop and pay attention.
Although the 'beauty in little things' is a lovely message to deliver, the actual video slightly misses the mark. The audio seems to have been recorded in a studio later, and lacks the hustle bustle quality typical of street recordings. The youthful voice of Nigam, a 42-year-old celebrity playback singer, hardly matches the elderly role he is playing. The diction is also too sophisticated for a roadside singer.
"This has been one of the most memorable experiences of my life," Nigam says. "This is a learning for me. Happiness is here, you don't have to look elsewhere," he adds.
Watch Joshua Bell's performance here:
Recently, Cristiano Ronaldo dressed up as a homeless person, complete with bedraggled beard, padded suit and dog companion, to spend an afternoon showing off his freestyle skills on the streets of Madrid. The 30-year-old went unnoticed till he surprised them all by revealing himself.
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