Chetan Patil is part of Swaradhar from the day it started. He is a an energetic personality. In early days he was little upset with work he is doing. He has overcome his past and now very proudly shares with people that he is local train singer. He chose his job because he was dismissed from job with an excuse of new machinery implants. It was told to him that he will be called backafter 6 months however he was never called back. In between he attempted many other things for survival which didn’t go well. He was not only jailed but also was beaten up to death. He decided to end his life. Suicide was the only option for him. He was about to jump from train when he decided to give a last try that changed his life.
Music was part of his curriculum in his blind school. He never thought that this skill learnt will be mode of survival some day. He started playing dholak in trains while his wife accompanied him for singing. He got introduced to Swaradhar after two years. He took leadership roles in the team took initiative to get new artists and many such things. His role is not just limited to artist now but he is one of the core team members. When spoke about the suicide attempt that he did 4 years back he laughs and says thank god, I didn’t do it.
He has overcome his disability. He is now trained massage therapist. Recently he has taken a new challenge of learning photography. When he requested the same to our team member all of us were doubtful if this can be done. We didn’t want to upset him and hence our photographer accepted his request. Being partially challenged it was the most difficult task. He tried and he succeeded. He does basic photography. His vision is no more a huddle in his way. He has also started using messages to communicate with our team. Learning new applications, trying something new, exploring himself is his routine now. No words can describe his journey from a failed suicide attempt to a successful leader’s life.
Like every other day Chetan Patil was out on his job playing music in trains. On the other regular day he would get rejections from his commuters railway police will catch him and fined him for any random amount or even in severe situation would have been send to jail. But this time story was different. Chetan patil was part of television show AKRHZ in which Swardhar was features as leading story. Chetan Patil got an opportunity to talk to Mr.Amitabh Bachhan. This was telecasted worldwide. People across nation had seen this n remembered Chetan for his talk with Big B.
When he entered train for his routine work one of the regular police officer caught him. Chetanji got nervous thinking he will be punished as usual. However police man came to him asking that was he the same person on tv? Chetanji only nodded his head and immediately this rude police man turned into a polite common man asking if he can have selfie with Chetanji. Chetanji without any delay accepted the offer and it was moment of surprise, proud and achievement for him. Magic started there.
This is the journey of being underprivileged to privileged. Artists who used to feel deprived till yesterday came forward to support the orphanage. It happened in show performed in Pune. Artists performed for St.John Home for Children and Women, Pune on 1st Feb 2016. Artists not only performed for negligible remuneration but also thought of giving collective donation for the home. They met old women in the home and were really emotional to meet them.
Why this turned as a big story for Swaradhar is because they are the same artists who use to hesitate over low budgets. Now they not only agreed to work for free but also were happy that they could share happiness and bring smile on faces of those old ladies.
This is the generation born with limited ambitions. At the age of 5 they entered trains not to earn but just to enjoy. They had seen their father uncle and almost every male member going in train and earning money. These kids thought it’s a fun job and hence they preferred to drop the school over trains. They didn’t even realize when it became part of their life. Their age and situations made them sole responsible person and now trains were no more fun. It was their duty no matter what they feel and want.
With the first meeting it could be easily seen that they had limited expectations from life. Most of the artists were below 24 and still their approach towards life was too negative. They had never thought of big. ”hum to bas train ke liye hi paida huye hai” was their typical dialogue. However after joining Swaradhar they have started performing on reputed platforms. Their audience was knowledgeable and was appreciating their efforts. It was bringing new hope for duff boys. But the real magic happened with the TV Show AKRHZ. Artist not only performed for national television but also got an opportunity to meet bollywood celebrities. 5 artists were invited to Indore to attend press conference and share their experience with Indore media. Artists travelled by flight stayed in one of the top most hotels of the city. None of them ever thought that they will ever be able to travel by flight. It was a magical day for all artists. Their regular dialogue had to get change. Train artists started new journey of hopes with their first flight.
Being physically challenged brings unending difficulties. It comes as burden not only for yourself but also people around you. Society is yet to fully accept people with physical challanges. Most of Swaradhar artists used face discrimination in their routine especially from their own families and relatives. Because of lack of career opportunities many artists turned to trains. This added more huddles on their way. Most of artists share that their neighbors doesn’t talk to them. They wouldn’t get invited for any function in the community. This was an everyday story for all visually challenged artists.
Soon after joining Swaradhar artists started performing for shows. Most of them were covered by some or the other media. Very soon after the grand show Aaj Ki Rat Hai Zindagi was telecasted on national television artists experienced sudden change in treatment they used to receive. Now Vilas, Chetan and Pradeep are not only recognized for their work but also get felicitated in different functions in the colony they stay. As well as at their native places their family members and other relatives feel proud to be with them. They have received respect for their hardwork. Simplest example is a milkman of the colony who not even wanted to see Chetan’s face, now greets him politely every morning on is own.
It was a day when Radhaji started working with Swaradhar, she was shy and introvert. In early days she used to sing light vocal and bhakti songs. However gradually she started singing high beat songs. With trainings she attempted Lavani songs. She had good knowledge of music hence she could sing well. People liked her performance too. She became so confident of performing in just one year that next year her performance was improved in all the ways.
It was a regular performance in Malad when Radhaji was supposed to sing lavani song. Unlike other days, she started song with much more confidence and grace that in first minute she won her audiences’ hearts. Continuing the song, she stood up like professional artists does that too without help of any volunteer and not just sang the song but also danced on the tunes and made other dance. She was not less than any professional singer. No one believed that this was a performance by blind women.
She created new milestones for herself. Lavani was thereafter her special. It became regular to see audience dancing to her songs. Radhaji is now lead female performer of Swaradhar team. She helps other new female member for performance based singing.
Many years back Pradeep started playing dholak in trains to cover his family expenses. Earning enough for his family he was living happy life. He is not highly skilled but plays very well to earn bread and butter for his family. When he got introduced to Swaradhar he was more than happy. He was not very consistent in trainings in early days. After personal counseling he discussed about his experience in trains. He shared experiences of treatment that he receives everyday in trains. Police, TC, Commuters was daily trouble. He wanted to do something which will not only give him money but also will provide respect. Because he was not educated, he couldn’t leave trains.
When team discussed about street performing culture Swaradhar is establishing he got excited but was not very clear at first place. Later on with the performances he was part of he understood the concept of street performance. He also experienced the respect and importance given by volunteers, organizers and audience. He experienced the moments of pride which changed his prospective for himself. We discussed about history of street performing. And he was totally convinced with the concept. He then after ever never begged in trains rather he played music proudly saying “I play and earn. I don’t ask money for free.”
That was the day when he stopped calling himself beggar and now does the same job but with more pride and happiness. He is a street performer now.
Devidas is an amazing singer. He has immense knowledge in music. He is visually challenged and this came to him as threat. He has got the ability to amaze people with his musical voice. However when he started journey of survival music was not his choice. He tried taking up jobs. Earning like a common man but what came to him was refusal. He tried working in the firms working specially for blind. It gave him very less salary. At the same time he got married to Pornima, who is physically challenged girl. Now he had responsibility of two. They came to Mumbai to look for some better sources of earning. Pornima started tailoring job and devidas started selling cutlery in local train as his one of friends recomanded him to do so. Within a month he got some bitter experiences. Not just from commuters but railway poplice as well. He had no experience of all this. Police used to take bribe, sometimes even he was beated by police. His all material was stolen at a time. This all turned into conscious decision of begging. he didn’t want to get into train but had no other option. He choose to use his musical skillfor earning bu of course he knew he wont get the respect that he wanted. He sang in trains for almost 6 months when he met swaradhar artist. Vilasji told him about Swaradhar and brought him in the group. He came for rehearsel. He receied lot of appreciation from whole team and trainer Dattatray was really impressed with his musica knowledge.
After few performances there was a transformation in Devidas. He was getting more confident day by day. He started discussing about difficulties in trains wih team. Slowly it could be seen that he wanted to come out of train. With his melodious voice he was getting more singing opportunities. He gradually got more confident of leaving the routine job. Team supported him for his decision. With morasl support he decided to take training for massage therapy. Very soon he completed the therapy and got a job in an massg parlour.
Now he is happily working in palour and doesn’t wantto turn back to his past. He loves singing. But singing is now just his hobby. He sings for his little angel only. Though he is not part of the swradhar team anymore but still shares a greatbond with team. Begging was a nightmare for him and he is always grateful toSwradhar for the transformation he experienced.
"Our journeys are celebrated with the performance of these unknown artists. The way we perceive them is as good as beggar. Swaradhar is an eye opener for all of us who think this way. I wholeheartedly support the genuine efforts of Swaradhar."
Executive Editor, ABP News Marathi
"I am blessed to be artists but it gives more power to me when I see the struggle and hard work Swaradhar’s artists does to conquer their daily life challenges. I feel motivated every time I look at them."
"They are no different from us. The only difference is we perform in theatres and they perform in public places. These artist posses’ excellent skills! Performing on open stage is larger than life experience. Swaradhar is taking efforts to put it in front us."