Whistles his way into record book

BLOWING Away the hurdles   | Photo Credit: Photo: S.S.KAVITHA

Murugan has nurtured whistling with a passion to emerge in the Limca Book of Records

Not only does B. Murugan Sakthi Vadivel alias Balu, has an unusual hobby, his style of pursuing it is unusual too. He creates music with his lips, not instrument.

The 55-year-old mechanic from Jaihindipuram has been nurturing his hobby by listening to the Ceylon radio ever since his childhood. He says: “I am self-taught and I have been whistling as long as I can remember.”

Though he has been practising to whistle, he has not found a stage to exhibit his much-loved hobby. But, the eluding stage did not deter him either from either practising or searching for a stage.

Debut performance

Finally with continuing hard work and frantic search, it suddenly happened when he turned 50.

He gave his first public performance at a local temple festival. He recalls: “My debut performance boosted my morale besides winning accolades from known and unknown neighbours and friends.”

And now, he has whistled his way to the Limca Book of Records.

Mr. Murugan was one among the 48 whistlers of Indian Whistlers’ Association, who set the largest group whistling record at Asha Niwas, Rutland Gate Chennai in July 2008. The group whistled ‘Saare jahan se achha,” in unison.

“I am slowly coming out of my mechanic shed and proudly holding my hobby in my mouth, thanks to the Association. It has given me recognition and also shown me the way,” he says.

Old melodies

Blowing through his puckered lips and whistling with tongue behind his front teeth, Mr. Murugan says that whistling is an art but has not gained any recognition. “Like vocalists, we too sing song. But the difference is we do it with our lips,” he says and adds “unfortunately whistling is often confined either to the four walls of the bathroom or as a weapon of eve teasing.”

What kind of songs is he at ease with?

“All popular numbers — From old Bharthiar songs to Mukunda Mukunda song from the latest film Dasavatharam. But old cinema songs, which resonate in the minds of music lovers irrespective of the age group, are dearer to me as it suits my whistling style,” he points out.

“There are many musical instruments but lips are my instrument and air is the energy that makes my singing audible,” he says and notes that for whistlers ‘raga’ of the song is more important as they have to bring in the feeling of the words.

Is whistling a talent in born or nurtured? “It’s nurtured. Any person who has a die-hard love for whistling coupled with perfect and regular practice can master the art,” he assures and notes that if the person has the knowledge of classical music, it is an added advantage.

“I practice a song at least for a week. More practice gives you more perfection,” he notes and proudly points out that his whistling can be heard up to a distance of 20-feet.

Murugan feels hurt that music troupes always ignore whistlers who also bring words and feelings to a musical high.

“I am sure, one day the perception on whistling will change giving due recognition to whistlers as artist. Whistling too will be recognised as an art soon,” he wishfully whistles away.