Tirthankar Poddar aka 2Blue Remembers His Friend And Mentor On His Second Death Anniversary*
“NANDU, HEAVEN ON THEIR MINDS,” Alyque’s deep resonating voice demanded. And Nandu turned Mumbai’s erstwhile (Not Just) Jazz By The Bay into an instant scream factory. At the end of the show, Alyque gave me his email address: email@example.com. Honestly, he never replied. This was in 2001.
Let’s fast-forward to 2014. The legendary rock singer Nandu Bhende passed in April. A memorial concert was put together shortly thereafter. The audience comprised luminaries from the world of art, cinema, theater, literature, advertising, and music. Needless to say Alyque was in attendance. I wasn’t surprised that he didn’t remember me. But after my performance of “Stairway To Heaven,” he called me aside to say,
“Nandu played Judas in my 1974 production of Jesus Christ Superstar. I am bringing it back. If you would like to audition, I will ask someone to be in touch.”
Two rounds of auditions and six months of rehearsals later, Alyque managed to create a reasonably convincing Judas Iscariot out of me. Convincing enough for Catholic nuns to stop their vans just to put a hand on my head and say they were moved. I was freshly unemployed and thoroughly depleted when I had auditioned. Honestly, I just needed to get out of the house to escape the sight of my mother’s tears. So validation like that meant everything.
Now let’s fast-forward to 2018. On landing in Bangalore, a devastating text message arrived on Saturday, November 17. I spent the day in disbelief. Friends and loved ones called and all I could say was I wasn’t ready for what had happened. I rambled on like an emotional mess to anyone with a patient ear. (I remember telling a journalist that if you have teachers like him, you have to live responsibly. She turned it into a rather gripping headline for the Times Of India.) That night, I played one of the best shows of my life. Because I knew who was watching.
The next morning when I landed in Mumbai, there was a cab strike. Fortunately, an Uber driver in the area confirmed my ride somehow. I still called him, pleading repeatedly not to cancel, explaining where I needed to be and why. He said he had heard the news and understood the urgency. At 11 am, he dropped me off at the Worli Prayer Hall and Crematorium.
I was the only person in colored concert attire in a room full of blacks and whites. But pain knows no color and together we cried... Bollywood superstars, production engineers, singers, actors, writers, directors, housekeepers, choreographers, and the Padamsees.
ALYQUE PADAMSEE HAD PASSED!
At 1 pm when we lowered him into the electric furnace, the mothers of his children touched his face one last time. His housekeeper Ida touched his feet and his son Quasar put a handwritten note in his pocket. Then the flames engulfed him and the furnace door dropped shut. Quasar was the first to clap. Then the rest of us followed suit.
With that tearful standing ovation, Alyque Padamsee walked into a room high above the earth. Waiting in that room with his arms open wide was his 1974 Judas. Someday his 2014 Judas will walk into the same room. Until then, you may never really know how poignant ‘Heaven On Their Minds’ can sound when Judas is in tears. But if you click the video link below, maybe you will.
Tirthankar Poddar aka 2Blue
A multi-award winning Singer, Writer, Speaker, and Actor. He can be reached via www.2BlueHimself.com.
Those of you who have been around from the 1960's through the 1990's will remember the vibrant live music scene in almost every starred hotel in India. Those were the days when you walked into a nightclub like 'Rendezvous' at The Taj Mahal hotel and 'Supper Club' at the Oberoi Sheraton in Mumbai to see curtains going up on a band that was the prime focus of these outlets. Every seat in these restaurants allowed an unobstructed view of the band that performed every night on resident contracts. Today all this has disappeared thanks to some ridiculously high entertainment taxes on live music. Today, non off these hotels have complete bands playing save for a few that feature small duos or solo singers. The Lodhi in New Delhi, recently listed among the world's best hotels, decided to step in and rewind to the good old days. They got Goa's premier jazz quartet 'Jazz Junction' to move to Delhi on a resident contract and the decision has paid off in terms of footfalls generated by the band. Jazz Junction featuring singer Daniella Rodrigues, pianist Tony Dias,
bassist Colin D'Cruz and drummer Angelo Colasco began playing at The Lodhi in June 2018. Four months into the contract the band generated a sizeable following, with quite a few high profile guests choosing to celebrate their special occasion at the Elan bar where the band performs. Against all odds the rewind option proved to be a huge success and hopefully other properties around the country takes the cue to trigger a whole new revival of live music.