Most people remember lyricist-singer Swanand Kirkire and composer Shantanu Moitra for their song ‘Bawra mann’ from the film Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi (2003). Their successful partnership has yielded many memorable numbers in Bollywood, as well as the independent music space. They are probably one of the few acts that have been able to straddle the fence that divides both music arenas. Now the duo has teamed up with stand-up comic Vikram Sathaye to kick off a project titled Bawraas, which will help identify and support young talent from across the country.
In their first endeavour, they will be raising funds through their concerts, to help Krushnaa Patil. At 19, she was one of the youngest Indians to climb Mt. Everest and is now struggling to support her journey to scale the world’s toughest peak, K2. We chat with the three men on their new initiative. (Patil is currently in Kashmir and couldn’t be contacted.)
How did you come up with this idea?
Swanand Kirkire: None of us — Shantanu, Vikram or me — are outgoing people. But last year, we did a show for our friends at Rangsharda in Bandra. We didn’t call the media; it was a very private affair. It turned out to be a great show. That’s when Krushnaa Patil, another friend, came into the picture. She was struggling to get sponsorship for her efforts to climb K2; no corporate firms were supporting her. We wanted to do something about it. And we thought, why not help other people like her too?
Shantanu Moitra: In India, there’s a general apathy about both non-cricket sports as well as women in sports. If a sport like hockey is neglected, you know what happens to mountaineering.
Vikram Sathaye: As friends, we always used to talk about taking up interesting initiatives in the independent music space. Also, we wanted to do something to help people.
With so much happening in the independent arts space, there seems to be a thriving market for such experiments on stage. What do you think?
Vikram: If you have to do alternative stuff, it has to be funded right. The cynical capitalist in me might think that no one will support this unless there’s hardcore commercial entertainment. But I know that there are people or corporates who will support it. Let’s start a movement and see what happens.
Swanand: Today, I wrote about the initiative on my Facebook page. Within an hour, I’ve received several inquiries from people who wish to contribute. Also, audiences want to see experiments on stage.
Shantanu: Today’s youth needs its own sound and identity. That’s why Coke Studio, The Dewarists and NH7 Weekender are successes. Art cannot be capitalist. It has to be a
combination of capitalism and socialism. No art ever survived only on market forces.
Are you looking at crowd-funding too for the project?
Vikram: I think that’s a superb model. I believe once we collect our base fund from the rich boys — the corporates, we will look at crowd-funding as the second step. Having struggled and now established yourselves, is this your way of giving back to society?
Swanand: I’d say we’re ‘demythyfying’ the whole process of a person’s struggle. There’s a lack of awareness among people, which makes them believe that mountaineers aren’t sponsored but cricketers are.
Shantanu: We often get so busy with ourselves that we don’t take time out for others. This way, we’re appreciating another craft. These stories need to be told.
Vikram: A lot of people get wary about where the money will go. So we’re simply saying, ‘Give the cheque to her; that’s how you will support her’.
Do you think you will be able to balance this project with your busy work schedules?
Swanand: We don’t think too much about it. It becomes a problem when you set a target that you have to help, say, five people. In that bargain, if you don’t find great people who need support, you’ll help less worthy people. That isn’t our agenda.
Vikram: As of now, we’re focussing on this girl to climb K2. The idea is — in the first year, don’t be too ambitious, get three to four people.