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Songs of social satire

india Updated: Oct 23, 2016 09:57 IST
Salik Ahmed

Ritansh and Sidharth of Motorcycle Shayaries, a rap rock band. The video of their song ‘Holi Hai’, uploaded on Youtube this March, has garnered over 12,000 views(HT File photo)

An overtly Left-leaning Ritansh and a rather apolitical Sidharth came together a year ago to form Motorcycle Shayaries, a rap rock band. Disenchanted with the country’s political landscape and disgusted with the societal hypocrisy, Ritansh vents his anger through hard-hitting satirical songs.

With a post-graduate degree in social work, 25-year old Ritansh had been performing as a solo artist since five years before the formation of the band. Sidharth, a few years older than Ritansh, has an engineering degree but teaches music at a school and his own studio. His concerns are directed more towards achieving finesse in music production than the politics of the songs.

The duo’s video of the song ‘Holi Hai’, which was uploaded on Youtube in March this year has garnered over 12,000 views. The song is a searing commentary on the ills that plague the Indian society and more crucially the state of perpetual denial that it lives in.

One of the verses from the song’s lyrics reads:

Kabhi ban karte sex education, kabhi ban karte sex tape hain /

Haan sex nahi hamari sanskriti, hamari sanskriti to rape hai

(They ban sex education at times, other times they ban porn /

Sex is certainly not our culture, our culture is rape)

The song touches a number of issues that mar Indian society such as shrinking space for dissent, caste prejudices, honour killings, obsession with complexion, bias towards homosexuality and fraudulence of religious gurus. The refrain of the song Par bura na maano Holi hai reflects our tendency to brush these malaises under the carpet instead of confronting them, and remain blinded in a jingoistic jamboree.

“I don’t think there are many bands who are doing issue-based rap, or are telling the truth through their music,” said Ritansh. “I feel we have that responsibility towards society and the people to make songs which speak the truth. Our job is to show the other side, which is missing in commercial music. We are trying to create this niche between commercial music and underground music, a niche which is entertaining even while it talks about real things. Premchand said that the job of literature and art is to be the voice of the people and carry it forward. That’s exactly what we want to do.”

The band’s name evidently comes from Che Guevara’s memoir Motorcycle Diaries. On being asked about the executions carried out by Fidel Castro, of whose administration Che was an integral part, Ritansh says that a revolution entails bloodshed. He said the Castro regime was above all a people’s government. He is also not shy to admit that he believes in revolution, as opposed to gradualism or reformism.

As for other inspirations, Ritansh looks up to Bob Dylan, Public Enemy, Eminem and Sidharth, aspires to follow the footsteps of Tom Morello and David Gilmour, guitarists of Rage Against the Machine and Pink Floyd.

Ritansh is now working full time in making songs and hopes to make a career in this. Sidharth hopes to do so too. They will be performing at IIT Delhi soon, he told HT.