Dubai: Sporting a red shirt, skinny black jeans, white-rimmed sunglasses and gelled hair, Ashraful, an Asian blue collar worker, resembled a rock star.
The audience in the Jam Jar gallery in Al Quoz went wild when he sang and did body moves to a foot tapping number from the Bollywood movie ‘Dus'.
Pointing at the audience he shouted: "Everybody put your hands up in the air" and he was an instant hit with the audience, not only because of his rock star looks but for his ability to connect with the audience.
"People tell me that I have a good voice and today looking at the reaction that I was able to generate from the audience I feel on top of the world right now," said Ashraful who aspires to go Mumbai and try his luck in Bollywood.
"I am so delighted to sing in front of such a fantastic crowd. Most of them were from the West and Europe but the manner in which they reciprocated was just amazing. Music as they say does not have any boundaries," said Ashraful.
He was one of the nine finalists of the Camp Ka Champ (Champs of the Camp) singing competition for labourers that was organised by Mahmovies!: Music for the Eyes.
Performing were the winners of the Western Union Camp Ka Champ competition from the past three years. This was their first ever public concert.
Interestingly, the contestants sang minus a musical band or background music. Some of them had just a couple of days to practice.
Mohammad Amjad, also a finalist, sang a retro number which was originally sung by the late Indian singer Mohammad Rafi.
He said: "I just love the atmosphere here. It was so much fun to sing in front of such a large audience. This is the first time for me to sing in public. I just love listening to songs sung by Mohammad Rafi. I don't have any Bollywood dreams but I love singing. As far winning and losing the competition is concerned I don't bother much about it."
Curator Mahmoud Kaabour believes that such a musical performance will bring forth a rare point of interaction between the Dubai labour community and the Mahmovies audience.
"By giving these worker-crooners a platform, the music of the camps will get its first ever public performance along with a live orchestra. This unique concert brings to the forefront a population in Dubai that is often overlooked, and allows these talented performers the chance to shine," he said.
The game: Championing workers' talent
The Western Union Camp Ka Champ contest is a singing competition that takes place annually across Dubai's labour accommodations. Hundreds of labourers show up for rounds of auditions, much like in hit shows like The X Factor, and contestants are gradually narrowed down to the most talented singers.
The competition is based on the Indian musical game Antakshari (similar to karaoke), which is often played at weddings and celebrations. Western Union Camp Ka Champ is organised by Right Track Advertising.
Do you think such events are good to boost the workers' morale? What other events could be organised for them?