“We never took any formal training. Our master is music record,” stresses Keshav Lal, a bohemian singer in the truest sense of the label. Legendary film-maker V.Shantaram discovered him while Keshav was playing the harmonium on the street. It is overwhelmingly disheartening to know that in spite of having worked with legendary composers such as Laxmikant Pyarelal , fate bought Keshav to streets of Pune, where he lived with his wife Soni Bai for 35 long years. Together they played music to sustain livelihood. Surprisingly–as indeed factually–Keshav never resorted to begging, no matter how tough the circumstances were. With music in his DNA couple with those magical fingers, Lal caught the attentions of onlookers. ” People gave me 5 rupees, at times 10 or 20 after watching me play on the streets and that helped me sustain,” states the singer.
Film and Television Institute, Pune decides to trace the journey of this singer who was pushed into oblivion in this documentary. After being summoned by none other than V Shantaram, Lal decided to give composing music for films a try. He even went on to lend his voice for chorus for the film Nagin starring Vaijayantimala, Pradeep Kumar and Jeevan. ” That film destroyed my life. I used to earn money and spend it all to watch the film. They asked me to work in the studios, but back then my family was the priority. This (music business) is only for the rich not for people like me for whom family and its well-being is the priority,” explains Lal.
Interestingly, Lal recently got a house under slum rehabilitation scheme and some Ganesh Mandals organised a show featuring Lal and managed to raise over Rs 1 Lakh. Watch the video to celebrate the power of hope and optimism. Also watch the priceless expressions on the duo’s faces as they hum a popular Bollywood number or two while looking out of the window from their own residence. Lal may not be a homeless soul any more, but he is–and will always remain-a bohemian at heart.