CHENNAI: From tipsy croakers to teeny boppers, karaoke has seen them all. And it all started in Chennai, about six years ago, remembers Mridula Gopalakrishnan who’s been queen of the scene ever since. “I attended the 10 Downing Street’s first karaoke night in 2008, and sang a little,” she recalls. One week later, she was hired. Although there wasn’t a name for it at the time, Mridula with her unconventional bass vocals and ability to keep people at ease had become the city’s first ever ‘karaoke jock’ or KJ as is the ‘in’ term these days.
“I think the trick is in being able to laugh at yourself sometimes, that’s an important one if you want to get the bathroom singers in the house comfortable,” she tells us. What was a novelty at the time at 10 Downing in T Nagar quickly became the new hip night at several of the city’s popular watering holes. “At one point I was doing karaoke three nights a week,” the ex-HR professional recalls, “Tuesday at Sparks (Savera), Thursday (10D) and Sunday at Havana (The Raintree)”.
Of course, as music enthusiasts already know the only place that really stuck with karaoke - crowd or no crowd - was the one that started it. Nagesh Reddy, proprietor of 10 Downing says with certainty, “That’s how I know karaoke is here to stay. On an any given week, our Karaoke Thursdays draw a minimum of 150 people. It’s a proven crowd puller.”
And just to give shy folks that little nudge to pick up the mic, newcomer in the game Nadisha tells us, “I give away a free drink or take the mic to the person’s table...” By the time, the clock strikes 12 though, she adds, “bathroom singer or not - nobody wants to leave...it’s always. Come on, just one more song?”