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From Brisbane to Bombay, from Jingle Bells to Single Girls

music Updated: May 08, 2009 23:14 IST
Purva Mehra
Purva Mehra
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

A week from now Boymongoose will unveil their long-awaited third music video on YouTube in which the Indian Christmas popstar learns how to write pop songs for white people as taught by a shady Yorkshireman.

Boymongoose is an animated pop singer, Elvis impersonator, and serious hairspray consumer, who headlines a four-member boyband by the same name. He specialises in comic remakes of classic Christmas carols for which he is joined by Ashwin Segkar (drums), Jay (guitar) and Avin Mathew (piano). “Since carols were a big part of our Christmas festivities, we thought it fitting to make some of our own. Most carols were too old to be copyrighted and made for great parodies,” says 26-year-old Jay, an IT professional.

The boys met at a Malayalee Association in Brisbane, Australia and played their first gig as a band at a Christmas event, which sparked off their ideas for spoofs. Inherently Indian themes such as dowries, Internet dating, Bollywood hunks and angels with incredible IT skills are explored on the band’s first album, Christmas in Asia Minor, launched in 2005. “We’ve all visited India at some point and it feels like home away from home. We consciously parodied a lot of what we’d heard growing up. While carols are a perennial favourite I think we’ve used up all the copyright-free ones. From this point on we have to be ready for someone’s lawyer,” says Segkar, a 29-year-old marketing and PR professional.

Spice Boys, Whyte and Barnaby Joyce were dismissed as potential band names before the trio settled on the very curious Boymongoose, after an invigorating discussion on the peculiar characteristics of mongooses. Soon after, Boymongoose released its first song and music video, 12 days of Christmas. In this hysterical remake the band has substituted ‘a partridge in a pear tree’ with ‘a totally insufficient dowry’, ‘two turtle doves’ with ‘two nosy in-laws’, ‘three French hens’ with ‘three butter chickens’, ‘four calling birds’ with ‘four Hare Krishnas’ and so on. “Mum got really excited when the video launched and turned into an overnight entertainment publicist, sending out CDs, links and hosting screenings for family and co-workers. It was very funny. In fact Jay and Avin’s mum features as one of the characters on the CD,” says Segkar.

The second, more recent video put out by the boys from Brisbane is a rock-pop remake of Jingle Bells called Single Girls. The song features a semi-bald, pot-bellied 39-year-old, desperately urging single women to check out his flattering Internet profile. With an animated character for a lead vocalist, the boys feature in the videos as South Park-esque animations of themselves. “Shaun Campbell, our lead animator, has a great street style but doesn’t like noses as a result of which none of our characters have them. We were unable to provide Jay eyebrows because of an animation budget blowout. And I’m told I look like an Indian Pete Sampras,” says 28-year-old Avin, who is currently completing his PhD in IT.

The band toured India in December 2008 and is likely to return soon to expand their fanbase. They are also developing a cartoon and a TV show and contemplating Indian parodies of Top 40 songs of all time. They haven’t ruled out options for a live gig either. “Ashwin has a grand vision for a live show with holographic Indians, puppets and gymnasts. I’ve always entertained the idea of an underwater live show with heaps of dolphins,” Jay says.

Boymongoose videos can be searched on YouTube or on their website