ಅಂದು ಇಂದು (ರಚನೆ: ರಾಮ್ಕೃಷ್ಣ ಬೆಳ್ಳೂರು)
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Right from childhood, I have been seeing them at the forefront of any procession – marriage, temple utsava, ganesha habba, church ceremony, funeral. They are attired in colourful uniforms and sport shiny turbans. They march to the beat of drums, the sound of trumpets, and the blow of clarinets. There is a silent admiration from the audience who are the onlookers on the pavements and who sit inside shops. Some kids walk along with them dancing to the songs. The songs are according to the occasion.
Last week, I met a troupe known as JAI MAHAVEER BAND SET. It is owned by S.Kanda. He introduces me to some of the members sitting inside the (approx.15×6 ft) shop. Hanumantha, Hulagappa, Thimmanna and Joseph play the Trumpet while Nataraj and Murthy play the drums.
A big drum is hung outside the shop. Underneath it is a couple of flex banners showing one of the members blowing the trumpet. An ‘A’ stand is also kept on the pavement so that the shop is easily identifiable.
There is a table in the corner of the shop on which a few drums are kept. A few photos of the troupe members playing for a wedding is kept under the glass on the table.
Next to it there is a bench which can seat around 4-5 people. The light pink uniform shirts are hung above the table.
The trumpets are inside a small open shelf. There is also a Fevibond, a toy elephant and a set of lock and keys there. The shiny caps are kept on top of the shelf.
Pictures of Lord Ganesha in between Goddess Lakshmi and Saraswathi, and Mother Mary with infant Jesus find a place underneath the white tubelight on the left.
Kanda puts me on to Joseph, a senior member of the troupe. He says there are a total of 40 members. He has been working as a band player for the past 45 years. He began when he was just a teenager in New Bharath Band and New Jai Hind Band in Kalasipalya. The current band set was started 15 years ago, the shop is next to Vinayaka Theatre on Mysore Road.
I request them to pose for a photo. They say wearing the dress takes a long time. I say them to just wear the cap and hold the instruments that they play. Each of them is really excited and stands for the picture.
Joseph says: Band sets became popular in India in the 20th century. In any rich and upper middle class marriage, we were compulsory. The wealth and prestige of the bride’s father was judged by how many players were in the band set.
We play for any occasion. Most common is marriage and funeral processions. We send a minimum of 4 members and a maximum of 35-40 members based on the requirement. Marawadis expect grandeur in their weddings, and we send more people. They also pay us well. For a Marawadi wedding, if 10 of us go, we charge around 10-12 thousand rupees. We play Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, Gujarathi, Rajasthani, Punjabi, Church songs and devotional songs.
Members in our troupe are adept at playing Clarinets, Trumpets, Euphoniums, Alto Sax, Tavil, Bass Drum, Tap Dhol and Side Drums. We are asked by the organisers to play more of Rajkumar, MGR, Sivaji Ganesan, Rajini, Kamal, Amitabh, Rajesh Khanna, Dharmendra, NTR, Vijay and nowadays Puneeth, Surya and Dhanush’s numbers. We are happy to oblige.
Every member of the troupe is skilled in playing a specific musical instrument and the performance lasts for about two to three hours. When we are free, we periodically undergo rehearsal for improving upon our performance. We get paid on a daily wage basis for the programmes we perform. 400 rupees for a marriage, 250-300 rupees for temple festival, 200-220 for a funeral procession.
Some of our team members have played for Shivarajkumar’s ‘Mutthanna’ and Gadibidi Aliya’ and Ravichandran’s ‘Gadibidi Ganda’.
Just as he is talking to me, I see a couple of men come and ask Kanda to send a team on a Cycle band for a temple utsava. A team is sent immediately.
I ask Joseph about the charges. He says: For marriages and temple functions, if 4-5 of us go, we charge around 3000 rupees. If we send 35 members to a wedding, it is around 32 thousand rupees. If we have to play from morning till evening, it is approx. 15-20 thousand rupees. For a funeral procession, we charge very less.
I am curious to know which is his favourite song. He immediately picks up the trumpet and plays Ghantasaala’s “Yaarige Yaruntu” from ‘Gaali Gopura’ (Rajkumar – 1962). I pester him to play another one. He plays “Poomazhai Thoovi” from ‘Ninathathai Mudippavan’ (MGR -1975). This is a remake of 1970 blockbuster Hindi Film ‘Sachaa Jhutha’ starring Rajesh Khanna.
We have been using synths, drums and loudspeakers for a few years in order to overcome all other noises like honking cars and firecrackers.
We spread joy for all the festive occasions but in reality, we suffer in silence due to the waning patronage. Brass Band sets are an integral part of marriage processions in the north, while the patronage here in the south is waning. The bridegrooms of today’s generation are very shy and prefer not to have band sets. Ceremonies are less elaborate today. Also, inflation has made people cut down on many things. These have affected us badly.
On certain days, we do not have any revenue at all. The owners find it very difficult to run this business. Although the members of our party look like professional musicians, in reality, most of us are unorganised labourers such as coolies, painters, and carpenters.
I have been playing for the past 45-50 years. I don’t know any other job. I stay in the church behind our shop. I feel our band members are as good as the Police band set.
It is nearing 9pm on a Wednesday. I thank Joseph and take leave. As I ride back home, I realise how very difficult it is to eke out a living just by being a band player. The next time I see any Band-Baaja-Baaraat, I will search for Joseph and his boys among those playing the trumpet!
Answers to the Statuettes and Awards Quiz posted on April 15, 2012:
[Dear TSSM and Veena, thanks for taking the quiz! Congrats for getting a few right answers]
1. Golden Globe
The Golden Globe Award is an accolade bestowed by the 93 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) recognizing excellence in film and television, both domestic and foreign.
The Ashes is a Test cricket series played between England and Australia since 1882.
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) is a charity in the United Kingdom that hosts annual awards shows for excellence in film, television, television craft, video games and forms of animation.
4. Dadasaheb Phalke award
The Dadasaheb Phalke Award is India’s highest award in cinema given annually by the Government of India for lifetime contribution to Indian cinema. It was instituted in 1969, the birth centenary year of Dadasaheb Phalke, considered as the father of Indian cinema.
5. Cannes Lion
The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity (formerly the International Advertising Festival) is a global event for those working in advertising and related fields.
6. Dronacharya award
Dronacharya Award is an award presented by the government of India for excellence in sports coaching. The award comprises a bronze statuette of Dronacharya, a scroll of honour and a cash component of Rs.500,000. The award was instituted in 1985.
7. Arjuna award
The Arjuna Awards were instituted in 1961 by the government of India to recognize outstanding achievement in National sports. The award carries a cash prize of 500,000, a bronze statuette of Arjuna and a scroll.
8. International Indian Film Academy award
The International Indian Film Academy Awards, also known as the IIFA Awards are presented annually by the International Indian Film Academy to honour both artistic and technical excellence of professionals in Bollywood, the Hindi language film industry. Instituted in 2000, the ceremony is held in different countries around the world every year. This award ceremony has been organised by Wizcraft International Entertainment Pvt Ltd – one of India’s premier event management and entertainment agencies – since its inception.
9. Man Booker
The Man Booker Prize for Fiction is a literary prize awarded each year for the best original full-length novel, written in the English language, by a citizen of the Commonwealth of Nations, Ireland, or Zimbabwe.
MarCom Awards is a creative competition for any individual or company involved in the concept, writing and design of print, visual, audio and web materials and programs. Entries come from corporate marketing and communication departments, advertising agencies, PR firms, design shops, production companies and freelancers. The MarCom statuette graces the trophy cases of some of the top business and communication firms in the world.
An Emmy Award, often referred to simply as an Emmy, is a television production award, similar in nature to the Peabody Awards but more focused on entertainment, and is considered the television equivalent to the Academy Awards (for film), the Tony Award (for theatre), and the Grammy Awards (for music).
The Filmfare Awards are presented annually by The Times Group to honour both artistic and technical excellence of professionals in the film industry of India.
13. Golden Peacock
Golden Peacock Awards have been instituted since 1991. The Golden Peacock Awards are recognised worldwide as the hallmark of corporate excellence.
A Grammy Award (originally called Gramophone Award) – or Grammy – is an accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry.
15. ICC Cricket World Cup trophy
The ICC Cricket World Cup Trophy is presented to the winning team of the ICC Cricket World Cup.
The World Cup is a gold trophy that is awarded to the winners of the FIFA World Cup association football tournament. Since the advent of the World Cup in 1930, two trophies have represented victory: the Jules Rimet Trophy from 1930 to 1970, and the FIFA World Cup Trophy from 1974 to the present day.
The Editors’ Choice Awards (affectionately called Eddys) recognize the best Mac hardware and software of the year.
18. Nobel Prize
The Nobel Prize is a set of annual international awards bestowed in a number of categories by Scandinavian committees in recognition of cultural and scientific advances. The will of the Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, established the prizes in 1895. The prizes in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and Peace were first awarded in 1901.
An Academy Award is an award bestowed by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to recognize excellence of professionals in the film industry, including directors, actors, and writers. The Oscar statuette is officially named the Academy Award of Merit and is one of nine types of Academy Awards.
20. Pulitzer Prize
The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by American (Hungarian-born) publisher Joseph Pulitzer in the year 1917 and is administered by Columbia University in New York City.
21. Bharat Ratna
Bharat Ratna is the Republic of India’s highest civilian award, awarded for the highest degrees of national service. This service includes artistic, literary, and scientific achievements, as well as “recognition of public service of the highest order.” In 2011, the Minister for Home Affairs and Prime Minister of India agreed to change the eligibility criteria to allow sportspersons to receive the award.
The Webby Awards is the leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet. Established in 1996 during the Web’s infancy, The Webbys is presented by The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, which includes an Executive 1,000-member body of leading Web experts, business figures, luminaries, visionaries and creative celebrities, and Associate Members who are former Webby Award Winners and Nominees and other Internet professionals.
23. Sangita Kalanidhi
Sangeetha Kalanidhi or Sangita Kalanidhi is the title awarded yearly to an expert Carnatic Musician by the Madras Music Academy. This honour is considered one of the highest awards in Carnatic music.
The Jnanpith Award is a literary award in India. Along with the Sahitya Akademi Fellowship, it is one of the two most prestigious literary honours in the country. The award was instituted in 1961. Any Indian citizen who writes in any of the official languages of India is eligible for the honour. It is presented by the Bharatiya Jnanpith, a trust founded by the Sahu Jain family, the publishers of the The Times of India newspaper.
25. Sangeet Natak Akademi
Sangeet Natak Akademi Puraskar (Akademi Award) is an award given by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, India’s National Academy of Music, Dance & Drama. It is the highest Indian recognition given to practicing artists. The award consists since 2003 of Rs. 50,000, a citation, an angavastram (a shawl), and a tamrapatra (a brass plaque). The awards are given in the categories of music, dance, theatre, other traditional/folk/tribal/dance/music/theatre and Puppetry, and contribution/scholarship in performing arts.
26. Ramon Magsaysay award
The Ramon Magsaysay Award is an annual award established to perpetuate former Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay’s example of integrity in government, courageous service to the people, and pragmatic idealism within a democratic society. The Ramon Magsaysay Award is often considered Asia’s Nobel Prize. The prize was established in April 1957 by the trustees of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund based in New York City with the concurrence of the Philippine government.
The Wisden Cricketers of the Year are cricketers selected for the honour by the annual publication Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack, based primarily on their “influence on the previous English season”. The award began in 1889 with the naming of “Six Great Bowlers of the Year”, and continued with the naming of “Nine Great Batsmen of the Year” in 1890 and “Five Great Wicket-Keepers” in 1891.
28. Fifa Golden Boot
The Golden Boot or Golden Shoe Award goes to the top goalscorer of the FIFA World Cup. It was introduced at the 1930 FIFA World Cup.