Edited to add: This is an old post, dug out of the drafts – written some time last winter after we went for the show and I wrote this post also on Raghu Dixit ( yes, rather obviously, I am a fan). Pliss excuse me for passing off stale maal.
One of the hazards of being a journalist is that you end up getting too jaded, too soon. You see too many fancy people up close. You see the makeup that goes on. The airbrushing that the covergirls get. The thighs that are slimmed down, the fillets that push up the breasts, the shading that creates a jawline and a sharper nose, the body makeup to hide scars and lighten the complexion. You sit for hours with the photographer for that perfect shot, the angle that slims, the perfect light. And you begin to realise that the professionals are the ones who turn up in flip flops, with every bodily hair shaved, strapless bras and an iPod. They’re also usually cold and uninterested but it doesn’t matter. You have a job to do and you do it.
But the thing with turning 30 was that it also set me free from some rather pseudo notions about what being cool was. When you’ve dealt with top models, the finance minister and Shahrukh Khan, its hard to be excited about anyone less! Until you realise that part of the job *is* to be open to being impressed. To see something where others don’t see it. To find the people who make a difference. To still be thrilled. To be awe struck and to admit that once in a while (okay I’ve been star struck more than once a in a while – can’t lie to those who’ve seen me write paens to Mohit Chauhan and Farhan Akhtar :D)) you’re completely bowled over.
And recently I have to admit I have been completely bowled over by Raghu Dixit. The man is a performer. I don’t know why they chose to call themselves the Raghu Dixit project. But when I see what they’re doing, it does seem like a project. Wearing khadi became cool a long time ago. And Fabindia, Anokhi and Cottons are doing their bit for desi print and desi wear – and a whole host of other small names who are not getting their due yet. But few other desi bands are doing what these guys are doing. Yes, of course, Indian Ocean is, but these guys are doing it differently. Much respect to all of them.
Far be it from me to go all jingoistic and say that we should all sing in the vernacular considering how much Western music I listen to – but I look around and everywhere I see new bands coming up, playing metal and singing in English. Does everyone here really think only in English now? For mixed kids like my brother and I and now my kids, we grew up speaking a mix of many languages but primarily English simply because that kept all the family members on the same page – and we were’t fluent in any of the others because there were so many of them. I’ve tried to make up for it by polishing my Hindi and I am pleasantly surprised when I find that I am better able to explain certain things in Hindi these days and that I come up with sayings and phrases in Hindi or am complimented on my Hindi by other Delhiites.
But really – what about all those kids who come from families where they speak their mother tongue at home? Don’t you think in that language? No? I’m just curious. I met an artist recently who mentioned that classical music is in no danger of dying out (I’m not into classical at all – I quit my training at 13 or something and have never again felt the urge to pick it up or to listen to it) but Indian folk music looks all set to go the dinosaur way. Even the music channels have reality shows that hunt for VJs and rock bands and all of them are kids who pick very cool desi names and sing in English. A lot of them are really good and for a person who writes in English I can’t afford to diss them and I am NOT. I am just pleasantly surprised to hear music, good music, in other Indian languages. And I do hope he doesn’t sell out and become completely Bolly/Tolly/Kollywood.
It takes balls to go up on stage bare feet and wear ghungroos, sing in Hindi and even Kannada, and wear the coolest most colourful desi wear and STILL be so f**king cool! The babies, OA and I are complete fans now and we turned up at their last IHC show with our hair up in braids. The Brat fell asleep on the way and woke up at the venue like a bear with a sore head. It was a bit of a shock to his system to find himself in the midst of the hordes and when the music blared he sat up, glared at us and then announced as loudly as possible – just when the music levels dropped for a second (with that unerring timeliness that kids seem to possess) – “I DON’T like music”. The OA and I slunk away from him, totally embarassed by the little monster that was our spawn. Rows of young people around us heard and turned around grinning at us. The Bean of course freaked out – smiling and clapping, feeling quite at home.
The Brat is truly his father’s son and so we took him for a quick bite to Eatopia after which he was considerably better natured and he came back to sway and clap. Raghu really knows how to get a crowd moving and we were all standing up and singing and naturally the two little munchkins could see nothing. So up they went on our shoulders, the Brat on the OA’s and the Bean on mine. And from that vantage point they rocked with the best. Singing, screaming, waving their arms and clapping.
One of the songs called for the audience to jump up and down like the artists on stage and we did it. Broken knee forgotten I was jumping up and down like a rabbit on LSD (there’s a good reason I don’t do intoxicants – I’m bad enough without them) and the kids were squealing with excitement, caught up in the moment. I was sure I’d come home to discover muscles and aches in places I didn’t know existed but I woke up fine the next day.
Anyhow, I offer up my kids to Raghu as his youngest fans. We’re listening to his music everyday and the kids want to know when they can go see him play again. Turns out his drummer had taught the OA drumming (yeah, whaddya know, the grey ibanker has layers!) for a while. The OA took the Brat up on stage to introduce him to the drummer as the reason he’d quit drumming. And the Bean and I waved to him and felt rather pleased with our tenuous connection with the band.
And it was then that I started smiling. Happy to know that I am still star struck and not all that jaded yet. Happy to see good desi music. Happy to see crowds of young people up and dancing and totally wrapped up in the music. Now if someone like Raghu convinced me to learn the local language just to understand his music, and because he does it with so much enthusiasm – it would be far more effective than the MNS or the general rumblings and grumblings in Bangalore. The old one about catching more flies with honey … blah blah.