BY BIPIN R PANDIT
Chief Operating officer, The Advertising Club, Mumbai
Parody is a difficult art. God, however, was kind to most in our family as we all turned out to be good at imitating the voice of others. As others remained restricted to imitating characters in our building, I graduated to imitating film stars and became a professional in 1987. I also added sher-shaayari and jokes to my repertoire and put together a stand-up act. I’ve been at it for 28 years now.
Right in my childhood, I was quick to realize that the best way to test your talent is showcase it to your relatives and friends; if they laugh and approve, you can go public. This has helped me a lot. Thus I experimented with stuff like talking in 10 different voices in front of an audience where many would say your X voice was good, others would pick the Y voice and yet others would opine that the Z voice was the best. It meant I was on course, and that I was moving close to those voices.
My father was a good speaker, and from him came the genes to be a compere. He was good at Hindi and Urdu, and the distinct baritone that runs in the family – giving us an edge as anchors. As time went by, I did not have to struggle to get a good break. The best banners just came my way - Babla, Gunjan, Zankar, Beatles, Golden Beats, Starnite, etc. I have performed at almost all auditoriums in Mumbai, and taken my voice offerings to the interiors of Maharashtra and major metros too. There was a time when I performed three shows a day. However, I soon joined Castrol India, and that meant I could do only a few shows.
Looking back, my big moments came when I happened to compere a show of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi and another time when Nilkanti Patekar, wife of Nana Patekar, stood in queu at my school to meet me post my imitation of her husband’s voice. Then there was the time when my school honoured me for my contribution to the field of compering and mimicry.
The world of Advertising, Media and Marketing encourages, nurtures and harbours art. It embraces talented people. Thus for adland, I decided to start my own music show, Khumaar, with talented upcoming artistes presenting retro music that most admen absolutely love. Two to three shows of Khumaar down, and I realized that people were loving it. At the end of every Khumaar, my seniors and their families urged me to organize the next show at the earliest. Some of the best known professionals from the industry said there is a lot of positive energy on the stage of Khumaar, and praised my anchoring. They encouraged me to mimic Dev Anand, Rajesh Khanna, Nana Patekar, Amol Palekar, etc., and admired the fact that I entertained the industry in a big way and gave talented singers a platform to showcase their talent.
Many ask me how I get time to do these shows and even bring out a coffee table book on music under the brand name Khumaar. My answer is simple – I have a passion.
I pray that God gives me the energy to continue doing shows and entertaining people for a long time. For me, it will be the Almighty’s biggest blessing. Watch out for Khumaar on the evening of September 26 at the IES Maniksabhagriha in Bandra.