As busking arrives at the bay, two gully boys are taking pedestrians on a musical ride.
If you are taking a stroll down the Marine Drive promenade in the evening and come across a boy singing with all his might, don’t be surprised. Performing on the streets, be it singing, juggling, clowning or comedy, for money or gratitude is a common practice in the West. Famously called busking, this act of performing in the public making lanes their stage, this art is now making inroads into the city.
Twenty-Two-year-old Ashish Gaikwad, a resident of Goregaon, performs with just a guitar and a placard that reads, ‘don’t think much about me, I want to make busking a common thing in India’.
“I am just following my dream, I was doing nothing and was just dreaming about becoming a musician and I realised that I have to start from somewhere and this is the best way,” shares Ashish.
20-year-old Hasan Baldiwala, who came to the city three years back with his guitar, too performs at the promenade to sharpen his skills. It was after he read that British singer and songwriter Passenger busks as well that he took it up immediately.
“He likes busking and so I learnt about this art and just followed my artistic call,” smiles Hasan who performs from evening till midnight at least five days a week, if not everyday with a hat in front and a sign board reading ‘pay if you like’.
The gully buskers have all the praise for this art form as by performing among the live audiences it has built their confidence. “If they like your music, they will sit with you, and if they don’t they’ll leave. You get the feedback directly from the audience,” adds Hasan. For Ashish, initially it was his friends who loved his singing, but feels motivated now with the live feedback that keeps pouring in.
Though at a nascent stage, both the performers swear by busking and the fact that it opens newer possibilities and different experiences apart from earning a few bucks. “I made a lot of contacts. Many local bands have asked me to join them as a singer and a guitar player in their gigs,” confirms Ashish.
But Hasan isn’t looking for opportunities, he is just singing because of his passion for music. “I do busking because it gives me practice and confidence,” he explains, adding that the nature of busking appeals him the most, than opportunities.
Ashish who started busking just a week back, recalls a small incident from his very first day of basking on the street, he confesses that it pushed him back when a foreigner threw a coin after listening to his song. “It was embarrassing, I was kind of pushed back, but slowly learnt that people like me and that’s probably their way of appreciating.”
Hasan who collects around 700 every busking shares a memorable experience, “I was performing on December 26 with my new guitar. People sat with me till midnight. It was satisfying. Apart from money it was an experience to live with people till midnight,” he recalls.
These street performers who love western soul and folk music, mostly sing love songs like Thinking out loud, Say you wont let go, Let her go and many other from James Arthur. Further in their endeavours, Hasan in last few months of his busking has teamed up with his friend Amrietaa Arun who sells zines while he performs.
Apart from their own satisfaction the two gully boys wish to make busking a common thing in India. “My only intention is to promote busking and motivate many aspiring singers to take up this form,” says Hasan, to which Ashish adds, “People don’t know much about this art, it is practiced in abroad and I want to make it a normal thing in India as well.”
While the millennial is adapting western culture to the core, accepting busking is certainly a move towards the change.