Meet Metro's 'melody man', providing music to weary souls on Delhi roads
You may not remember his face but his music must have soothed you amid humdrum of the capital city. Meet Munindra Sagar, who entertained people at busy bus stands. He has shifted to metro stations now
At the metro junction of Rajiv Chowk, one can often hear the golden oldies from the sixties being played on mouth organ by an old and lean harmonica player.
Munindra Sagar, a street music performer went about entertaining people at busy bus stands in the capital city years ago. He has moved to metro stations now. In a city like Delhi, most people look lost in the world of their own, and against all the odds, they continue walking around to pick up the fragmented pieces of life. In a time when tensions mount and sorrows are waiting to be shared, here comes Sagar playing tracks of the yesteryear to embalm his listeners. He plays music for all but more categorically for those work-beaten faces returning from mundane jobs.
Sagar who hails from Haridwar, used to teach English at an institute in south Delhi's Green Park to earn his living. He spends most of his day exhibiting his artistic prowess in the upscale neighbourhood of Connaught Place where he can be spotted playing to the requests of audiences of various age on his six inches handy harmonica which he without fail carries along in his chest pocket.
The sixty plus musician fond of black and white cinema was deeply impressed and influenced by the Bollywood comedian Johnny Walker of the 60s. He picked up harmonica at the age of 13 and achieved virtuosity in it without a teacher ever.
The mofussil town of Bareilly where he went to school, did not have much to offer. He desperately wanted to own the instrument. his wish was fulfilled after many years when his cousin gifted him one Hero blue in colour made in China, his first most prized possession and close to his heart.
"I started playing without a teacher, the mouth organ can be learnt in six months but it needs perseverance and patience. I, in fact, learnt by listening to Madan Kumar Ji, the legend of harmonica. I always played the Chinese make that actually hurt my mouth and buying an expensive one was a distant dream. I got a job of a teacher in an institute and I bought my first diatonic harmonica made in Germany from my first salary." Sagar reminisces about the past.
This maestro travels on Delhi metro, loves Rajiv Chowk, his favourite hangout, a junction that witnesses huge legions of metro commuters, where he entertains many passersby. The youngsters flock to him and put in a request to play ‘mujhey teri mohabbat ka sahara mil gaya hota’...he doesn't mind getting recorded or photographed.
'Metro's Melody Man', the harmonica player got this alliteration from a scribe of a reputed daily years ago, he recalls.
"I want to teach budding kids but I am badly pressed for time and teaching, I know, it is quite taxing and will limit my free movement. I just follow my heart and I go wherever I want to. In another five years, I would be a peripatetic musician, who is enjoying travelling with music and spreading love and peace around," gushes the musician.
This instrument does fetch him money by selling his recorded CDs but that's meagre. The passionate harmonica man of soft demeanour has also worked in a couple of movies; he played a vagabond musician in Rajama Chawal, a movie on Netflix that won him appreciation.
"I lost my job following the pandemic hitting the education industry severely; my wife Renu and son Anant support my love for music. I too help her in the kitchen." Sagar touched on some unrevealed aspects of his life.
He plays dozens of old numbers and he loves playing ‘ek pyar ka nagma hai’, an all- time favourite. He appears and plays ‘zindagi ka safar hai yeh kaisa safar’ and then disappears leaving many with a blend of the song and a smile on the lips and eyes chasing the man who just melted in the crowd.
“I love moving around with music, but security norms and police administration do not permit me to perform as freely as I want to, maybe for some security reasons; but I am no threat to the law, our government instead should encourage as many other nations do in the West,” the 'Pied Piper' of Delhi concludes walking away leaving this message for a re-think.