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When Delhi-based director Anusha Rizvi wanted a grungy sound for her first film — a black comedy about rural life in India called Peepli Live — she got contemporary fusion band Indian Ocean into the studio for the music.

Written by Suanshu Khurana | Published: February 19, 2010 10:50:18 pm

Rock bands go to Bollywood,to add their bit of grungy,rakish rounds

When Delhi-based director Anusha Rizvi wanted a grungy sound for her first film — a black comedy about rural life in India called Peepli Live — she got contemporary fusion band Indian Ocean into the studio for the music. The result is two songs that Rizvi can’t stop raving about. “I have heard their music over the years and wanted songs that were rooted in rural India. Rahul Ram and the others in the band have delivered what I wanted,” says Rizvi. The film,an Aamir Khan Production,was recently screened at the Sundance Film Festival.

About a decade ago,there were many young bands jamming in garages and at friendly dos in Delhi. While some of them made it to college festivals,the better ones got gigs at Café Morrison and Pebble Street. Soon,Delhi became the hotbed of rock action in the country. But when Indian Ocean composed the music for Anurag Kashyap’s Black Friday in 2004,the rock fraternity raised its collective eyebrow. They feared mainstream Bollywood would gobble up the rock elements and that the bands would be forced to compose trademark tunes. Black Friday,different and edgy,showed the fears were unfounded.

Indian Ocean’s drummer Amit Kilam says,“When directors come to us for music,they want a new sound and not the typical music going on in Bollywood. There are new directors who appreciate unconventional tunes and new voices. I am looking forward to the release of Peepli Live. This way more people will get to listen to our songs,as Bollywood music is marketed well.”

Indian Ocean is not the only band in B-town. Midival Punditz have produced the background score for Karthik Calling Karthik along with Karsh Kale,and Kailash Kher’s band Kailasa have composed the music for Allah Ke Bande,a film by Faruque Kabir. Most filmmakers,who go for the alternative sound of bands,are debutants,like Kabir and Rizvi.

The bands are not complaining. “The visibility is good. To a great extent,this has got to do with the boom of multiplex cinema,” says Tapan Raj of Midival Punditz. The films are not the mainstream Bollywood kind — of superstars and showy locales. Mumbai-based band Agnee,for instance,is working on Gulabi Gang — by first-time director Shamik Sen about women in Bundelkhand. “Sen had heard our song Sadho and wanted a similar rakish feel to the music,” says Koko,the guitarist of Agnee,whose sound is a combination of jazz rock and classical rock,with a touch of Indian folk.

When it comes to the bucks they get,the bands have different opinions. Says Ram candidly: “Not everybody can afford an AR Rahman or a Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. So there is a lot of difference in the remuneration we get. I can’t give the numbers but the difference is quite a lot.” But Palash Sen of Euphoria,which recently composed a nine-minute song for Rahul Dholakia’s Mumbai Cutting,has a different take on it. “Euphoria have been around for a long time and we are not paid less than anyone else,” he says.

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