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Morning You Play Different, Evening You Play Different

Aik re by naresh fernandes

Their eyes give it away. Chris Perry wears a slick black jacket, the sleeves of his crisp white shirt revealing the glint of dark cuff links. His fingers clasp a gleaming tenor saxophone with a lover’s gentleness. Arms crossed coquettishly above her waist, Lorna Cordeiro is chic in a bouffant and a form-fitting gown that shows a flash of ankle. They stare into each other’s eyes, mesmerised. Behind them looms a giant camera aperture borrowed from the opening sequence of the Bond films.
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Dot buster

Usha Uthup, who won a Padma Shree this year, hasn’t stepped out of the spotlight since she first started belting out Broadway tunes and pop standards in 1969 in venues similar to this one, depicted in the 1972 film Bombay to Goa. She’s performed across the length of the country, recorded more than two dozen albums and has been featured on several popular Bollywood tracks. More importantly, she’s single-handedly created the paint-by-numbers kit that anyone hoping to make a living out of performing pop in India must follow: sing in an Indian language (or several); tour incessantly both in small-town India and to diasporic outposts in New Jersey, Hong Kong and Nigeria; cherry-pick film assignments; and never, ever stop enjoying yourself on stage. “I’m a people’s person,” Uthup told me. “I’ve never been bothered by people saying I play to the gallery – because I do. Without the gallery I’m nothing.”
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