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Indie gets its big fest

Whether commercial success comes to the independent music scene or not, its passionate participants are unwilling to slow down, writes Malvika Nanda.

music Updated: Feb 05, 2009 21:25 IST
Gig-a-byte | Malvika Nanda

Three-day expo breaks new ground and brings together the elements of independent music. Whether commercial success comes to the independent music scene or not, its passionate participants are unwilling to slow down.

Two questions often emerge when one talks of underground or independent music. The scene has been underground for a while, so when will it finally gain ground? If there is little or no commercial success there, how does it continue to grow? The answer simply is, passion. Starting today, Baajaa Gaaja, India’s first ever music expo for independent music, will look into such questions and a lot more. The three-day expo is being held at Ishanya in Pune.

Baaja Gaaja is an initiative by vocalist Shubha Mudgal and tabla player Aneesh Pradhan, who are also behind Underscore Records, an independent music label. In short, it’s an attempt to further solidify the growing indie music scene. As Mudgal puts it, “It’s only logical to have a collective voice. So much is happening in independent music, but we hardly know each other. All genres of music need to be acknowledged and with great respect.

“Music isn’t about class or hierarchy. Different genres can learn a few things from each other. So here we get everyone to interact, ideate and share; convergence is the way to go.”

Way to go!
The indie music circuit throughout the country is supporting Mudgal, and so is Bollywood. Dhruv Jagasia, who manages top indie acts like Indian Ocean and Midival Punditz, says, “This is one of the best steps ever. Only we know the kind of problems we [Midival Punditz] went through when we wanted to cut an album. Labels here realised what we were about only when we got a deal with an international label. So I’m glad that... the sheer force of unity will give the [indie] scene a lot of strength.”

A wide platform
The expo will have performances, seminars, workshops, exhibitions and film screenings. From copyright issues to insurance of instruments and artistes and getting financial options for musicians, a range of topics will be covered.
Also highlighting the importance of music clubs, Baaja Gaaja will see a reconstruction of the first jalsa hosted in 1871 by the Parsi Gayan Uttejak Mandali. This Mandali, one of the earliest formal music clubs in Mumbai, encouraged the study and performance of Hindustani music.

As Pradhan says, “This is only the beginning. We plan to take the festival to various cities and make it an annual affair.” More power to Baaja Gaaja!