He was 18 when he took off from his home ground in Mumbai to move to the land of opportunity to study, to work and to make music. Akarsha Kumar, better known as Aki Kumar or ‘The Only Bombay Blues Man’, recently showed off the essence of the city of his birth, combining the vibrancy of the blues with the cheerful chaos of the world called Bollywood in a song called Dilruba. The track is a happy one, with energy rooted in swing and jazz and colour and madness that is all Hindi movie mayhem. Dilruba is included on Hindi Man Blues, Kumar’s second album.
Listen to it and watch the man and his team in action:
The video for Dilruba starts in a mostly-empty auditorium with the announcer mangling the name ‘Aki Kumar’ in more ways than we thought possible. AK’s backing band bursts into a tune that is boppy and upbeat, with Aki himself playing the harmonica. He starts with words that could be a Shammi Kapoor song, with a driving beat and a RD Burman-style jazzy tempo. Then a girl comes in, dressed in a spangly white sari, and he promises in a nice rap to clean the floors, make dinner and much more. But ‘Don’t break my heart and leave, come to me,” he intones, just before he sees her and is gobsmacked!
The scene segues, like any good romantic Hindi film sequence, to a verdant mountain setting, where our ‘hero’ and his ladylove dance, complete with jhatkas and matkas, as a stout chap with a sitar plays a very ‘Indian’ raga. Expectedly, the dream dissolves into the theatre, where the few people in the audience get up and dance….you know how it goes!
While Aki Kumar is not the typical Bollywood hero and his voice is perhaps not perfect playback material, Dilruba works. And it does so mainly because of the enthusiasm and energy, the joy with which it is sung, and tongue-in-cheek attitude that wins always. And the really lovely jazz and blues spirit! We like!
To listen to more of Aki Kumar…
- Eena meena deka
- Hai apna dil to awara
- All bark no bite