Call of the Wild

A new music show,The Great Gig in the Sky,shifts the gig to a jungle and sets the stage around a bonfire.

Written by Somya Lakhani | Published: March 13, 2012 3:12 am

After travelling for a few hours and trekking for a few more in the thick of a jungle in Igatpuri near Mumbai,a group of 30 campers finally settle for an evening around a bonfire. As the dim glow from a rustic lantern,the sounds of the night and food prepared by the locals set the mood,indie musician Ankur Tewari of the band Ankur Tewari and the Ghalat Family brings out his guitar and begins to croon. This entire experience,along with tidbits from the artiste’s life,comprise an episode of The Great Gig in the Sky. This new weekly camping-cum-music show on BIG CBS Spark is set to go on air from March 30.

Initiated by Jumpstart,an organisation that conducts camping and trekking trips around Mumbai,the show’s concept is far from conventional. An artiste,selected by the organisers,travels with the campers who have signed up for the gig on the show’s Facebook page. His performance,albeit informal and unplugged,takes place at the camp site,which is usually a jungle,a beach or a hilltop. The campers,including the artiste,stay the night and follow it up with adventure activities the next day. The idea is to enjoy,feel at one with the elements and allow the “audience” to become a part of the artiste’s performance.

The show is the brainchild of Ryan Thomas,Dhiren Talpade and Akul Tripathi — the proprietors who came up with the concept,are friends from college. “We have been part of the nature club of our college. Our professor,Sudhakar Solomonraj,had interesting methods of making us observe nature — he would have us sitting on a hilltop in Ladakh and listen to Bob Dylan or Billy Joel. We adapted this idea to include an indie artiste,” says Tripathi. Apart from Tewari,his team has chosen 11 other artistes for the series,including lyricist Swanand Kirkire and indie artistes Nikhil D’Souza and Sidd Coutto.

Shot in picturesque locales in Maharashtra,such as Nilshi near Lonavala,a lakeside campsite near Igatpuri,Thanale near Pali and a beach in Bordi,the show is likely to strike a chord with both music and nature lovers. “There is no electronic tampering with music,no computers at work,just a thought in one’s head,conveyed through lyrics by the artiste who strums the guitar alongside,” Tripathi adds.

For the artistes too,the show has been a refreshing journey — creative for some,nostalgic for others. Coutto felt as if he was on a picnic with a bunch of friends,reliving old days. “I hope the group stays small,the moment there are too many people,the intimacy with the audience will be lost.” Tewari seconds Coutto who felt as if he was going back to college when he would nurture his music over such trips or play at friends’ houses. “For the shooting of this show too,I had no set playlist in my head and neither did I rehearse,” says Tewari,who came with an incomplete song in his song book and returned with the lyrics complete and the title Wagairah Wagairah. “It wasn’t a performance,it was a mehfil,” he says.

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