Pursuit of Happiness

Singing away the blues

NetMagic Solutions COO Sunil Gupta on how he found a new voice with karaoke

Life is a perfect blend of technology and music for Sunil Gupta, 41, president and chief operating officer of Netmagic Solutions. At work, he is popular for organising karaoke sessions at various office events and parties, and at his 50-member karaoke group at the Forest Club in suburban Mumbai, Gupta is best known for his tech know-how and is informally called the technical director of the group.

Gupta, who joined Netmagic in 2010 after completing a decade at Reliance Communications, traces his karaoke obsession to three years ago. “Some neighbours and club members got together and decided to start regular karaoke sessions. They got hold of an old TV and a karaoke mic, and the group took off,” he says, adding that he was not an active member of the club till then. “I was very curious when I read about the sessions in our local newspaper. I had never sung in public before joining the club. Having inherited musical skills from my mother, though, I decided to give singing a shot.” 

An alumnus of NIT Kurukshetra, Gupta grew up in Punjab and Haryana. “I could at best be called a bathroom singer before I joined the group,” he laughs. Over the years, he has honed that skill, experimenting with Jagjit Singh’s ghazals before graduating to Kishore Kumar’s popular ditties. His karaoke group meets once a month at the club, with members taking turns on a first-come-first-serve basis. Gupta’s professional ease with technology has translated into smoother, error-free sessions for the group. From being completely unfamiliar to the workings of karaoke machinery three years ago, he can now expertly navigate the settings and has helped procure a better sound system for the sessions. “From being completely uninvolved in the club’s workings three years ago, I’m now the first one to show up for these events,” he laughs.

His favourite pastime has slowly seeped into his daily routine as well. Two years ago, Gupta got a karaoke set installed at home, and he now practises on it every alternate day for 15-20 minutes. “As more club members signed up for our karaoke group, we realised that we get hardly more than one chance to sing in the four hours we spend at the club each month,” Gupta explains. So, the first few members who actually set up the group (including Hiranandani group’s director of engineering Cyrus Pithawalla, Mastek MD Ashank Desai, Coating & Coating owner Darshak Bhayani and founder president of CliffDew Management Consultants, Adarsh Sakhuja) formed another group of their own. “We meet every fourth Sunday at any member’s home.” 

With karaoke making an appearance even at home functions (Gupta organised a session for his parents’ 50th wedding anniversary celebration earlier this year), it is clear that this hobby has become a part of his life. “These karaoke sessions have helped me mingle with neighbours and club members as well. I’ve been living in the same locality for the past 13 years, and yet it is only in the last three years that I have really got a chance to interact and chat with my neighbours,” he says.

Even at his work place, where Gupta is otherwise known to be a workaholic, his regular karaoke stints are making him popular as a singer. Says Gupta, “Music has brought a semblance of balance to my life. I spend most of my 45-minute commute home from work lost in music. For me, this is the best part of the day.”