Sub-culture vulture

“The idea took shape in my head when I was,quite literally,sick of the city.”

Written by Priyanka Kotamraju | Published:June 17, 2012 1:59 am

“The idea took shape in my head when I was,quite literally,sick of the city.” Searching for reasons to stay on and perhaps for an identity,Akshat Nauriyal had to tire of the city before putting on a rather jaunty pair of crimson wayfarers to look at it in a different hue. Delhi,he says,was changing,evolving,and while he was silently aware of the churn,he didn’t pause to dwell on it. That’s when nowdelhi.tv was conceived. It was to be a time-capsule on the Internet capturing his representation of the ‘here and now’ in Delhi — a mirror reflecting the sub-cultures emerging from the Delhi belly. On May 24,2011,nowdelhi.tv sprang to life with a music video of Indigo Children,a small independent band.

Slumgods part one and two are documentary shorts that loosely narrate stories of young B-boys from the city. Most of the kids come from troubled backgrounds and B-boying has become the sleeve of self-expression they’ve chosen to wear. One of the kids from the Slumgods crew even went on to win an Indian talent show. Nauriyal’s video was his audition tape. International B-boying groups have come to know of the Slumgods through Nauriyal’s videos and a regular exchange of styles and movements is now taking place. While B-boying is not indigenous to Indian culture,it is an export that has been readily embraced by these kids on the fringes of society. “You can’t fake an attitude,” says Nauriyal,“and these six-seven-year-old kids had an attitude that was natural,kids who might not yet know the place B-boying and hip-hop come from,kids from Jalandhar,kids who train in the parks adjoining the Saket malls. I was simply blown away.”

Dhanak Dhin: Monsoon with Music Basti is an album launched by young kids from three shelter homes – Khushi Rainbow,Kilkari Rainbow and Ummeed. Containing songs penned by these young children,sung by them and put to music by various artists,this album is a realisation of their many secret hopes. Nauriyal lets the minstrels do all the talking,their excitement and fears made visible through the camera lens.

Nauriyal himself is a part of a thriving sub-culture of the young and the restless shunning “cushy” jobs to create spaces with more honest souls. The website nowdelhi.tv is a personal experiment for Nauriyal,as experimental as his stints with music and television have been. The four-and-a-half years he spent producing shows for a lifestyle television channel left him jaded. The medium was pervasive,the message was not. After severing ties with the electronic medium,Nauriyal turned to the Internet,to seek,discover and give back. Nauriyal’s association with music is perhaps the longest. Always in a band since high school,he still keeps the drums for his two bands — Another Vertigo Rush and Teddy Boy Kill. His personal association with music and the steady influence of artists Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry have shaped his love for documenting independent musicians. Independent music projects for social change are a flourishing sub-culture now,as Nauriyal observes and documents with the Music Basti projects and the Menwhopause project with Flying Souls (Tihar jail’s rock band).

Nauriyal single-handedly helms the nowdelhi.tv project,mostly at night. His days are spent working as a freelance director,consultant and videographer on commercial projects to keep nowdelhi.tv running. The last commercial project he shot for was with Audi’s social innovation unit which partnered Sarvajal to create ‘pay-and-use’ water ATMs in urban villages. He also collaborates with six other visual artists on various projects as part of a collective.

Extension Khirkee is the next project he intends to put up on nowdelhi.tv. This project looks at graffiti as a nascent but emerging sub-culture. Urban villages have become canvases for Delhi’s graffiti artists much to the amusement and chagrin of the village dwellers,he jokes,narrating an incident involving a particularly irate old man whose walls had been defaced by art that he couldn’t comprehend.

With the passage of time,Nauriyal hopes to weave a larger Delhi-in-motion narrative that fuses sub-cultures and underground movements sprouting in the city,which is indeed ‘now Delhi’.

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