By Rashmi Talwar
He was cheered, with a seemingly endless applause—Matching his steps- were the thumping- tapping feet of all who watched, as he “MOONWALKED” on stage.
A smile lit me, as I dusted old photographs of Arjun, shaking my head, I recalled him dressed as the first and perhaps the Only Michael Jackson! Of Amritsar.
Sometime in the early 90s, this fancy dress competition was held annually on Christmas day—at the local Amritsar club.
As an annual feature, the event had the power to push every parent worth his last buck, to ‘necessarily’ doll-up their kids for this fancy dress (Moreso, for fear of tantrums the whole year around, by the left-outs!) Our son Arjun, had a winning streak of over a decade of winning these fancy dress competitions–no less than 11 times!
But his MJ act was undoubtedly the best; at least it was my favorite.
News of Michael Jackson’s death on June 25, had all of sudden renewed requests from Arjun—“This time, with added gusto, urging us to send the scans of his fancy-dress pictures, on Email, ASAP.
Perhaps, his friends in the UK University were teasing him, pooh-phooing! his claims and boasts of having once won the prize, dressed as The Star MJ!
As the scanner zoomed the old pictures, it made me remember the time, when we decided he would be Michael, this time.
Those were the days the “Beat It- Man’s” spectacular craze crossed all limits of decency. (….lol).
“Thriller”, “Billie Jean”, “Beat it “, “Man in the Mirror”, “Bad” …MJ’s thumping, pumping numbers swaggered arrogantly amongst youth world-wide, running down all other pop singers. They also left many parents red-faced before kids, facing the ‘raunchy movements’ of the pop icon.
In other words —Twas AWESOME …!!
MJ’s Home-finished dress:
Despite the poor quality of MJ ‘s video cassettes that we brought on rent, fed on to an old VCR, we were able to scratch out every detail of Jackson’s trademark outfit– copied and innovated it with humble home-found touches.
The tuxedo of Charlie Chaplain from an earlier fancy dress was dusted and restored. It was too short after 3-years. “So much the better, I thought!” The coat’s falling ends were tucked into a tight, broad, stretchable belt ( I had brought is as a ‘tummy –tucker” ) the black hair-clip with a golden run did wonders on the belt to make the coat look like a jacket!
Of course the school’s Saturday uniform of white shirt and white socks besides regular black school shoes, came handy.
A few shiny button studs on the sides of the trouser, pulled up arms, a black-bow tie, a hand-made hat with a long falling ribbon, completed the picture .
“Not Quiet”! Michael those days had a “lock” of hair falling on his forehead. For the needful, Alisha’s (my daughter) lock was cut and stuck on his head with a scotch tape, over which came the hat. Black kohl lined eyes and Viola! Michael was ready!
Several attempts later, I gave up on trying to learn the Moonwalk and teach it to the little one. And we scouted for a dancer, who could teach him the famous “Celestial Walk” –the hallmark of MJ—
And what did we know! Just a few houses away, our neighbor Mahajan –a brilliant dancer– willingly accepted to teach him for a week.
Mahajan’s skills did wonders and he performed brilliantly, on the thence top-of-the-charts number –“The way you make me feel…. You really turn me on..”!
Indeed, MJ’s magic numbers actually could power any crowd into a hysteria.
He, was asked to perform again, when he ran to receive the prize and he readily gave a re-take.
Thereafter, owing to public memory being still fresh over this particular performance, a couple of years down the line, somewhere MJ’s thrilling touch waned bit-by-bit.
His other numbers “black or white”, “jam”, “scream” with his sister Janet Jackson could not create-the-heat of his earlier chart-busters and hence no one “ever” become a Michael Jackson again on that stage, although the competition is still held annually.
Loki kende ne —–it is easy to dress anyone but the act is only his/her and Arjun surely was a natural.
In his first 11-years every year he won at the Fancy Dress Competition as:
1. Halwai—‘Sweet Maker’
4. Charlie Chaplain
5. Onida Monster
6. Shakuni mama
7. Yamla jat
8. Michael Jackson
10. Great Gambler
11. Fat man