Dhruv Bakshi and Zulfikar Ali Khan emerge Camp Ka Champ from 3,000 workers of 80 labour accommodations.
Sonapur isn’t a place you go to for a picnic. Most people would have neither inclination nor chance to venture that side of the desert, to the JiWin Grounds at Sonapur in Muhaisnah — Dubai and yet not quite Dubai. This is the Dubai of labour accommodation, where you see rows and rows of block housing, and where each block boasts the name of yet another (often construction) company.
In Sonapur you spot only men, with work clothes drying on balconies. Sonapur is also where every eating joint is called Al Madina, much to the confusion of those giving directions and those amid trucks and dust tracks, desperately seeking landmarks.
But it was transformed into a musical arena on Thursday evening, for singing contest Camp Ka Champ that has taken place annually for the last seven years amongst labour accommodation residents.
The finalists took to the brightly lit stage at the JiWin Grounds, set up adjacent to a yellow bottle of what turns out to be life-size dummy of Sunny Cooking Oil. The atmosphere was festive, and the residents, it’s apparent, were enjoying their evening. To have a singing contest in this area is a novelty. The speakers were so loud, even the revving engines outside the compound did not drown out strains of Hindi film songs rendered by the contestants.
Thursday evening’s Camp Ka Champ was the largest ever singing contest — what some south Asians might consider the equivalent of a ‘Dubai Idol’.
One of the participants, a Pakistani cook from Peshawar who got knocked out in the second round, was tearful and clutching his box of cigarettes. He said he was stressed because of the contest, felt bad about being knocked out in the buzzer round and said he hadn’t slept more than two hours a night for the last three nights as he was up memorising movie trivia. see more