When popular TV music series Coke Studio returned with a second season this year, it came with a new premise. As opposed to last year’s format, which saw collaborations between singers from diverse music backgrounds, this year, the show’s makers put the onus on composers. Each episode featured one composer and his team, working together to create original content.
Besides churning out an impressive array of music, the show also helped audiences put faces to names such as Clinton Cerejo, Amit Trivedi, Shantanu Moitra and Hitesh Sonik, among others. The concert-like setting of the show also turned some of these Bollywood composers into active stage performers.
Similarly, when travel-music series The Dewarists debuted on the small screen last year, viewers got to see Moitra and lyricist Swanand Kirkire teaming up with Pakistani artistes Zeb & Haniya. This year’s edition saw actor-lyricist Piyush Mishra teaming up with UK-based hip-hop artiste Akala. Mishra had also featured in Sonik’s episode on Coke Studio.
From studio to stage
Cerejo, who wowed crowds at the Pune leg of the Bacardi NH7 Weekender festival last month, says he is still getting the hang of being on stage. “I’ve always been more comfortable in a studio. I’m still getting used to the live feel of a concert and relating to the audience,” says Cerejo, who sang and played the guitar as well as the keyboard with his collective of musicians at the fest. The group played some of his original hits from the Coke Studio repertoire, including ‘Madari’, featuring Vishal Dadlani and Sonu Kakar, and ‘Banjara’, that saw Nandini Srikar and Vijay Prakash on vocals. “I am going to be performing next at the South Asian Bands Festival on December 9 in Delhi,” he says.
For Kirkire, stepping out of the studio and in front of a huge crowd is an experience like no other. “Being a theatre artiste, I’ve always been eager to go on stage. Also, people know me as a lyricist but they didn’t know that I sing,” he says. Kirkire and Moitra, too performed at the Pune fest.
The rise in festivals and venues for live music may have seen Bollywood names doubling up as indie performers, but the task is challenging nevertheless. “Listening to a brief from a filmmaker and composing music is easy. On the other hand, it’s tougher to come up with stuff on your own, when there is no one to tell you what to do,” says Cerejo.
But indie music is what helps them shape their identity. Kirkire says, “Individual expressions get lost in Bollywood music. There, songs are written for particular characters and themes. But as an independent artiste, I can create and perform my own songs.”
He is also working on a collaborative album with Zeb & Haniya. “We are looking at recording around six songs,” he says.
With avenues for indie music increasing, Kirkire and Cerejo reckon the way ahead looks good. “It’s a great time for musicians to be performing live,” says the latter.