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Jazzing up classical on campus

They were born out of the Delhi University campus about a year ago, and interestingly, are ruling the music scene on campus. This young ensemble called Raagleela, took a risk of mixing ragas of Indian classical music with world genres such as jazz, funk, blues and lounge, and the risk turned out to be quite a hit for them.

music Updated: Apr 17, 2013 02:17 IST
Vaishali Bhambri

They were born out of the Delhi University campus about a year ago, and interestingly, are ruling the music scene on campus. This young ensemble called Raagleela, took a risk of mixing ragas of Indian classical music with world genres such as jazz, funk, blues and lounge, and the risk turned out to be quite a hit for them.

ragaThe six-member band has won several band competitions on campus this season, including the two biggest fests, Hindu’s Mecca and Shri Ram College of Commerce’s Crossroads. "Performing on campus gives a high as people come there to just listen to you. They are of one generation, so catching the pulse of the crowd is easy," says Sagar Chawla, a second-year student of Hans Raj College, who plays the keyboard.

So how do they define their music? “Music is either good or bad. We just want to sound nice and as far as we are satisfied with our performance, we are sure the crowd will enjoy too,” says Sarthak Joshi, a third- year student of Hans Raj College and the guitarist.

While other young bands are opting for western genres, their aim is to take Indian classical to the masses, and that’s why the fusion. “Raga is the essence of Indian classical music and ‘leela’ means playfulness. And that’s what we are trying to do with our music. Our different compositions depict different emotions,” says Sarthak Pahwa, the percussionist of the band and a third-year student.

While the members of the band stand divided on whether campus provides for a suitable launch pad for bands or not, Niloy Ghosh Dastidar, the bassist and a second-year student at Hans Raj College, says, “The campus gave us a launch pad to perform for the masses. Our horizons have definitely widened. DU is a culturally vibrant place.” “Especially North Campus,” adds Joshi.

But why no girl in the band? “This is not planned. In fact, we have had a guest female vocalist for one of our gigs. If we find a female musician who understands our music, then why not,” says Vaibhav Ahuja, a first- year Hans Raj college student and the drummer. They draw their inspiration from artists such as Karsh Kale, Anoushka Shankar and Prem Joshua.