“What is that Devil song?” Dr Victor Rodrigues, dentist since 1975, calls across to his assistant, who without looking up from her appointment book, clicks her mouse a couple of times and out pour the Rolling Stones.
Victor is a dentist by day and singer by night, fronting a ten-to-eleven person band that performs at some of Bombay’s coolest venues, including Theory, The Clearing House and The Bombay Gym. His assistant is Maureen, soft-spoken, twinkly-eyed and frighteningly well-versed in music, a curly haired beauty who in her youth is reputed to have quickened the heartbeats of crooked-teethed boys all over the neighborhood.
Hanging at the Colaba clinic on a sun-drenched afternoon, we can’t decide which one of the two is the true Jagger.
Victor has been in a band since dental school – “It’s how I paid my tuition; now I do it because I can’t afford golf,” – but his current gig, Victor and the Crowns, came into being less than a decade ago. “We played for fun and did the occasional charity show at St Andrews. A friend recommended us to Blue Frog, and that’s when we began professionally,” he tells us while examining a tiny denture. “Which canine?” a junior asks. “Lower right,” he replies, right before breaking into a Michael Learns To Rock song.
His band consists of among others, a radiologist on the keys, a businessman-drummer who was recently at Davos, and some lovely ladies “who are always travelling”. They have between three and four singers and a roster of over 200 eclectic songs that they perform in gigs that sometimes last up to a whopping five hours, ranging from Johnny Cash to Abba, Amy Winehouse to the Stones. Everything is live.
“Because we’re all friends, band practice is a party,” Victor explains, shooting us a wide smile while telling tales of Honky Tonk Woman and Black Label.
In video clips that Victor sends us over WhatsApp (always followed by a rose emoji), we detect upraised fists and a red fedora, guitars and girls, a lip sneer that would give Jagger himself – who Victor has watched in concert several times – a complex. It’s the kind of gig that could uplift the dreariest of nights, old school in the best way, where we could take a new boyfriend or a crusty uncle.
“We only do a couple a month, and now I’m off to Brazil and Argentina for a long vacation,” Victor tells us, killing us softly with a gentle swish of his Adidas slides and Omega wristwatch. You’ve lost that loving filling?
Getting there: Find Victor and the Crowns on Facebook here.
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