Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Rock On

The channel, MTV, has been long known for airing preposterous shows brimming with vulgarity. However, Kurkure Desi Beats – MTV Rock ON came as a refreshing change.
A music show where people grouped into bands perform original compositions, compositions blended with a flavor of desipann and predominantly, the typical vocal chord straining, head banging hard rock element.

Though I was not regular in watching the audition sessions, I happened to see the Kolkata auditions episode. I must accept, the place teems with musical talent. Sambit, a drummer and Raahi, a vocalist, caught my attention with their zeal and energy. They got selected and in fact, sailed till the end.

The show had Ram Sampath, a music director, Kailash Kher, a superb singer and Nikhil Chin-up-aa, MTV VJ as judges. I spent months of Aug-Oct 2009, waiting for Sat 7pm, watching this program, loving it for the fact that it did not focus on vocalists alone but gave importance to instrumentalists as well. I genuinely feel that instrumentalists are more gifted than vocalists, they understand the most subtle nuances of music which are easily forgotten or overlooked by vocalists. Ironically, it is also true that they get lesser recognition and credit.

This show on MTV turned out to be my favorite for 3 reasons –
1) I loved music
2) It did not carry the conventional ingredients of a MTV show – cat fights, drama in name of road adventure, verbal abuse, churlish quotient etc
3) It had adults as participants. Not young, schoolchildren who left behind their bags/books, spent all time in the studio recording/singing only to get dejected and utterly lost on the day of elimination. To make it more traumatic, the child’s parents sob, whine, sulk and fight, creating a picture of irreversible damage to the child’s career and life.

The participants from auditions were put through multiple rounds of elimination, usually attended by a guest, an external judge apart from the usual three. Their inputs were valuable but also surprised me at times; they excused many a mistake from some but showed the door to few who went wrong just once.

Out of the eliminated participants, I loved Parul, a vocalist. She rendered the remix version of the Hindi film song, Soni de Nakhre very beautifully. Mr.Mari, a saxophone player, though not versatile in tunes and style, his age (60+) and passion to play alongside people in 20s undoubtedly deserved accolades. Agnithra, a tabla player, Keshav, a guitarist and Jared, a guitarist (though not a vocalist, he rendered a superb version of “Genda Phool” in baritone voice) are other names I will remember.

Decisions marking exit for some came very late, as in case of Geetharthi, Abhinanda, Anish and Bikram, all are vocalists. They had the clear advantage over instrumentalists, after all a band requires some one to sing and take centre stage. This gave them the edge, even when they lacked potential, over instrumentalists for whom a single error cost heftily, the toughest competition reigning in the guitarist’s category.

The BEST survived and formed three bands.
Dhairya – comprised of Iman Sen, a vocalist from Kolkata, perfect playback singer material, great voice with immense depth, who put his heart and soul to every song he sang. His clarity, seamless transitions between notes, passionate and zero inhibition performances were a treat. I would love to see his name on the Bollywood playback charts some day.
Then there is Aviv, on guitar, highly talented leader of the band, Collins, the rapper, bringing hip-hop flavor to the song, a total enthu guy, Akashdeep, truly talented bass guitarist, Parth on flute (a very disciplined and down to earth performer, highly gifted musician) and Yadhu Nandan on drums adding life and vital beats to the song.
Iman and Parth, in my opinion, were always flawless and rocked every episode.

Khilaugh – This band is a precious gem, a star-studded collage. All members of this band are my favorites. Each member is a king and together, they ROCK on stage. They are very adorable, devoid of ego, and full of a unique sense of friendliness. They might not have bagged the first place in the competition but I am sure they will walk away with bigger and better laurels some day if they continued to perform together.

The leader is the “Raakshas Gaayak”, sobriquet provided by Kailash Kher to Raahi for his orotund voice. He always ensured that you banged your head, tapped your feet, clapped your hands and enjoyed his song as much as he did. He would tear his vocal chords apart with a never say die attitude. Sambit, on drums shared equal fervor.
Kaushik, Ashok and Pratyush on guitar, though relatively soft natured people, stole hearts with their fingers playing meticulously over the strings. They were the magicians of the band. Of all guitarists in the finale, Pratyush, Kaushik and Ashok were my hot favorites. They wore sweet smile on their faces when they crafted their parts in complete sync and perfect harmony with the others; there was never a clash between the three guitarists of the band. Then there is DJ Saab with an element of style, revolutionizing modern day music with his turntable. With whack, whacky turns on the turntable, he created sounds that provided a never heard before funky quotient. They were unbeatably the best in every sense. “Jugni”, a song performed by Raahi in one of the elimination rounds is a superb piece to watch.

Saadhak – The winner of the competition comprised of very talented musicians. With Nirdosh, the guitarist on the forefront, there was no looking back for this band from start. Nirdosh was way above his peers and no novice to music, his desipann and musical acumen conquered his tunes. Indigenous elements were mixed boldly by Naitik on percussion (the dhol). Tanmoy, on drums, left no stone unturned. Sachin, the violinist, a prodigy, ensured that the music delivered was always of A1 grade. Raj, the KILLER bass player let his hair loose and played with immense fervor, getting deep down to intrinsic notes of the song, leaving his stamp of perfection on each one of them. Willy, though not talented as other vocalists - Iman or Raahi, mingled well with the masters in his band.

The problem with this band was copious ego among its members – Nirdosh, Naitik and Sachin were too excessively talented to shed their differences and come together. Sachin, especially, as the sole violinist in the contest threw tantrums and worked to dominate the centre stage. The differences between them were so huge at times that they expressed dissent openly in recording studio before Ram.

For this flaw, I feel they should not have won the title in the grand finale. Music is the primary element in judgment, but being happy and natural, playing as a band also matters, when on stage in front of an audience. After all, when music is the primary element, discord between people who render it sounds absurd. Members of Saadhak never seemed to complement each other, rather they appeared juxtaposed with one another, bundled together to achieve a dream. However, taking their creations, “Bulle Shah” and “Billo Aunty” of two varied genres– the former being Sufi and the latter, a happy go lucky, naughty song, as instances will reveal why they grabbed the big pie.

To know more about these bands, to download their compositions, one can check -
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