Thursday, May 25, 2006


And so we arrived at the finals stages of the KroaKing thing. The place was packed, people were rocking and every contestant had a goodly fan following and a tag-along crowd. The solidarity each group showed towards their mascot was unbelievable. But then, as Carlton said early in the evening, we were a music loving crowd. We just cheered everyone on, some more than others but what the hell...

The beginning saw a strange reversal of the order of arrivals. People began trooping in at 7:45 PM while 2 of the contestants strolled in at 9:45!! Interesting strategy I thought. Maybe they thought the prize was a watch or something...

Anyway, once all the slots were filled, the night was kicked off by none other than Hottie and Shortie. Their ‘Pretty Fly for a White Guy’ gave people, contestants and audience alike, what they needed - blessed release from the nameless but yet tangible tension that gripped the air.

You know, for all the accomplishments of the singers yesterday and for all that they have sung on that stage to very similar audiences before, I don’t think there was even one singer who wasn’t holding something back. I’ve had the privilege of watching and listening to all of those 12 singers at times prior to this and to me, not even one of them hit the mark. Not even close. Sure they might not have done anything wrong (well, most of them didn’t anyway) but...

I’m not sure what the reason for this might be, although I have a voice in my head telling me to shut up and that I’ll find out soon enough. I’ve touched upon this topic before and I’ll say it again - The contest seemed to have leached away the fun from the evening. Not for the audience. We enjoyed it thoroughly. I’m talking about the contestants. It was very weird.

On the whole, a nice evening, a decent ‘beginning of the end’, an eclectic range of songs and voices. But a minor anticlimax.

Vivek Madan

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


You know I’ve always wondered about how people keep saying “Bangalore is overtaking Mumbai and Delhi as the entertainment capital of India” and “Bangalore - the Pub city” and Bangalore this and Bangalore that and the rest of the story.

Never really gave credence to those theories because I feel that every city has its own pace, its own rhythm, its own modus operandi. Friends of mine from Mumbai come here and are scandalized by the fact that we have places where we can both drink beer and eat steak.

At the end of the day, it’s the people who make the city what it is. And it’s the same with a space like Opus. I’m truly amazed by the variety of people who walk in there; especially for Karaoke Nights. At first I used to wonder, what’s the big deal in coming to some place to watch strangers makes fools of themselves on the mike?

And then it hit me... It’s Vaudeville all over again; Variety entertainment. At KroaKnights, you get all kinds.

You get good singers, good singers who’re having a bad day, decent singers, terrible singers, funny singers, non-singers who are born entertainers, singers who’ll look at you while they sing, singers who’ll just stare at the wall, singers who’ll dance with the mike, singers who’ll stand rooted to the spot like they’re controlling a bad case of susu, singers who shout, singers who whisper, groups who just break out into laughter at every line, couples trying romantic duets holding each others’ hands, I mean the list just goes on and on and on... Boyfriends dedicating songs to girlfriends and vice versa, bad singers who know they’re bad, bad singers who think they’re great, singers who bow in humility for the claps, singers who arrogantly wave their hands and walk off with their drink, singers who go red in the face while hitting the high notes, singers who don’t move a muscle even if it sounds like they’re being pinched in the balls...

Phew... I’ve run out of breath now. You should try and say that whole paragraph in one breath, might improve your singing abilities. So, in just one night, you can experience a wholesome evening (Like cornflakes and toast for breakfast???) of first class entertainment.

And last night was a prime example. All kinds of people, all kinds of singers, one completely rocking evening.

It’s the people who make the city and the people who make Opus.

Elementary my dear Watson...

Vivek Madan

Monday, May 15, 2006


You know it’s funny... There’s only one more week left for the Kroaking contest to reach its final stages and for the first time in probably my entire life, I’m shit scared of going on stage.

I think it must be just me though. When Carlton says something about me claiming or not claiming to be a singer - I must confess I’m not sure which one is true myself - I keep asking myself, do I consider myself a singer? If I am, then I shouldn’t be nervous, and I’m not, what the hell am I doing belting out Robbie Williams for anyway?

And then my superbly logical mind cuts through the fog and says, first define a singer. Then you can decide whether you are one or not. ‘Hmm.... good idea’ I say to my mind. So, what or who rather, is a singer?

Deep in search of the truth, I went to the most logical place to find out the answer to that one.

After getting thoroughly confused by some reference to a Polish-born American Yiddish writer who won the Nobel Prize for Literature (I mean, one would think they would at least put the sewing machine guy first but he comes after!!! The cheek I tell you...), I finally read with bated breath the definition of ‘Singer’.

‘One who sings’. Well that’s a bit fucking vague isn’t it? Annu Malik sings. What hare-brained idiot would call him a singer?

Then it says, ‘... especially a trained or professional vocalist’. That didn’t help either. Because if that were true, then half the people who sing at Opus aren’t really singers, they’re just mike waggling interns.

So I’m back to square one, asking myself, ‘What is a singer’? I somehow don’t think that logic will help me here. I am forced to realize that anybody can be a singer, I mean, it’s like being an actor or being a dancer or even a cricketer for that matter.

I think the question I want to ask is - ‘Am I a GOOD singer?’ I don’t think I’ll ever be able to ask that. I’m too scared of the answer.

Anyway, one more week and then the action hots up for the semis and then the finals!!!!
Maybe I’ll find my answer then.
Maybe I’ll like it, maybe I won’t.
What the hell.
It’s still great fun!!!
See you Wednesday for the last of the Kroaking Qualifiers! Cheers!!!!

Vivek Madan

Sunday, May 07, 2006

These are all 'Shiny Opus People'

This was a piece I wrote about a year ago for an e-newsletter we were thinking of starting then. The idea never took off but my thoughts did… as you will see. Most of what I’ve said applies even to date but there are some factual anachronisms which I hope you will forgive me for. I don’t feel like modifying them. Just look at it as ‘A look at Opus one year ago’.

Shiva ‘Sweaty’ Subramanian: Called Shiva by some but ‘beast-man’ by most, these two names should give you a picture of the man. Most often found at Opus in Sweat pants or his Kaftaan; he calls it his Martial Arts outfit but I don’t believe it - I think he like to cross dress once in a while. And oh, since he’s going to kill me when he reads this, you’re all invited for my funeral.

Shonali ‘Sashay’ Mathias: Yup yup yup!!! You got it. The sway on the lady as she walks around trying to get the Karaoke system to work…or trying to remember a table no…!! Whooooo boy! And the SMS’s she’s been known to send; guys watch out if she has your number!!! Most often seen around in Opus with a Camera and a frown… This is one bit I just had to add – Shonali is our Resident Hottie. Excellent at public relations!!!

Neil ‘Neat as a Pin’ Campos: Nothing fits Neil better than that phrase. Never a hair out of place, shoes to rival Jayalalithaaa’s wardrobe… Neil, if he was taller, would be excellent model material. But having fallen short, he can be found at Opus in Casuals, which in contrast to mine…are smart!!! If you think I’m being nice to him, I have my reasons…

Gina ‘General’ Braganza: Ooooooh boy, run for cover. Not called general for nothing, Gina’s alarming and extraordinary behaviour has also earned her the nick name of ‘Hitler’… The woman responsible for many things including tying down her husband’s considerably vast bulk to land and so on and so forth, Gina’s trademark is the beret she wears on her head. A word of warning, she may look French but don’t try and slap her…?

Carlton ‘Uh…uh…uh’ Braganza: The man responsible for the frown on Shonali’s face and the one of the vast bulk, Carlton is what youngsters call a ‘dude’ and what oldies call ‘strange’. Found at Opus in any item of clothing you can think of and a lot you can’t or wouldn’t want to, Carlton’s dress sense is best left to the experts. Incidentally the ‘Uh…uh…uh’ is something he grunts on the mike to any song when he doesn’t know the lyrics. It has now been enhanced by a startling ‘Wooooooaaah’ in the middle of a performance.

And now for the fun part; the next few are new. Think of it along the lines of Star Wars: The prequel and the sequel. The sequel focuses on the people at Kroaknight. The various weirdos and their idiosyncrasies.

Mark ‘Midnight Special’ Swaroop: He’s been around for as long as we can remember and has even handled some of our kroaknights when Carlton and I have been out of town. He is forever thankful for the blackboard we have at Opus cause that’s his favourite hiding place. At Opus, with its dim lighting and all, Mark somehow reminds me of the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland. I’m not sure why… But all jokes aside, Marks falsetto version of ‘Barbie Girl’ is possibly one of the best I’ve ever heard. But only when he sings it with me.

Namrata ‘Not now ya…’ Sudhindra: probably the most well known dentist at Opus; maybe the only dentist at Opus, Namrata is another die hard but she just loves playing hard to get. With her two friends, Squeaky and Nins, she could be the next generation of Itchy and Scratchy. They even sound like a cartoon strip – Squeaky, Nins and Nam-Nam.

Kartik ‘KarpeKundi’ Iyer: Only his wife Preetha can testify as to the veracity of my nickname for him but I like it. Kartik or Higher Iyer as he likes to be called is one of the ‘Stars’ at Opus. The quintessential funny man with a few Stand up comedies to his credit, Kartik, unfortunately is like one of those really old scooters – Lambrettas I think they’re called – needs to be kickstarted at least 20 times before he can rev into action. Preetha, tweak his ‘g’ears a little will you?

Pramod ‘Passionate’ Nanjappa: I have never met a more passionate man in my life. He is passionate about everything - mainly beer and Zombie – but there is not one thing you can talk about that will not incite Pramod into a bewildering flurry of action and dialogue. And when you’re well over 6 ft tall, with a bald head and a Superman T-shirt, people tend to listen or get out of the way really quickly.

The views and opinions in this piece are solely those of the Restaurant and do not in any way reflect upon the authors’ sentiments.

Vivek Madan

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Prima Donna Syndrome

I remember one Kroaknight at Opus when someone began singing Pink Floyd. The gentleman had asked for help and as I was there and it happened to be one of my favourite songs, I started to sing with him.
Being musically challenged to the point of deafness, I wasn’t singing seconds or thirds or any part of those, I was singing in what I believe is called the melody of the song. Unfortunately, the gentleman singing was also singing the melody (as is his right).
We had barely gotten past the first 3 lines when my friends, the cheering squad I mentioned in my earlier piece, began cursing me and calling me a Thunder Stealer. I was instantly reminded of Silk Smitha and her thunder thighs and failed to see what they were referring to. Then the wiser of the two said, “Get off the mike, he’s singing well!!!” He actually said something like “Get of the &*$#ing mike you ch*&th, let the dude sing!!” but we must maintain niceties on the internet.
That was when I realized that I had succumbed to what I now refer to as ‘The Prima Donna Syndrome’.
People sing songs badly or they sing songs well. The point is that they’re singing it. Not you. As a people, we need to learn to respect another’s time on the mike. If you think you can enhance the song, do it, if you can’t, keep your mouth shut.
If the whole group is out to have fun and just make fools of themselves as is often the case with some people, then it’s fine. But here’s a guy who wants to sing this song and is good at it. You don’t even know the guy, but you just have to join in. So sing it verse by verse. Don’t all 3 of you holler in the mike at the same time... Spread the glory... Share the mike... Or don’t share it at all. You can sing it next week.
If some people are lost, there were 3 songs sung last Sunday night that led me to write this article. ‘All for Love’, ‘Here I go Again’ and ‘Its Raining Men’. While the first two were absolute disasters thanks to the Prima Donna Syndrome, the third was a perfect example of how beautifully 2 singers can meld their talents and their energies into a gestalt performance.
I’m not mentioning names not because it’s impolite to do so but because I’ve heard it said that reading this tells you exactly what happens at Opus on Kroaknights. Not true. If you really want to know what’s happening, you have to be there!!! I’m not all that good!

See you Wednesday!!!

Vivek Madan

PS – I missed it but apparently, Serena, a girl who sang ‘Black Velvet’ was stunning. Kudos Serena!!! Hope to see you on a Wednesday soon.



KroaKing season 2 every wednesday