How often does a whistle catch your attention, unless it is a particularly shrill one in a cinema hall or a lewd one at a railway station? Rarely. But as one group of people proved on the concluding day of the Kala Ghoda Festival, puckering up in public might not be so bad after all.
The Indian Whistlers Association, a 500-strong group of professionals brought together by their love for music sans singing, performed a tribute to legendary singer Mohammed Rafi at the Kala Ghoda amphitheatre on Sunday. The capacity crowd cheered its approval as members of the IWA whistled popular Rafi tunes like ‘Pukarta chala hoon main’ from the film Mere Sanam and ‘Yeh hai Bambai meri jaan’ from CID.
Since whistling involves many of the same skills as singing -- a sense of rhythm and melody, as well as breath control -- it was no surprise that some of the whistlers were also accomplished singers. Some members of the audience especially enjoyed the songs that included both singing and whistling.
“They were really superb,” said Sanjay Phadnis, a 53-year-old employee of the Western Railway. “I could recognise all the songs. I will definitely attend another performance of theirs.”
According to its website, the Indian Whistlers Association was formed five years ago with the intention of “changing the perception” about whistling and to have it recognized as a “performing art”. Its members, drawn from all over the country, include publishers, classical musician and techies, among others. The IWA entered the Limca Book of World Records in 2008 for “the largest convention of whistlers singing the same song”. If nothing else, this feat alone warrants the wolf whistles that followed their performance at Kala Ghoda on Sunday.