Last year, just a few days short of Maharashtra Day, Jeetu Raj, a radio jockey at a popular FM station, challenged his listeners to find him a Marathi rock band in the city. Apparently, there was none. That’s when Thane-based outfit Moksh, who then played raga-fusion and metal, decided to use the challenge to their advantage.
Moksh wrote and composed five Marathi songs and approached the radio station. Not only was their offer taken up, the band played at Hanging Gardens on Maharashtra Day and was declared the world’s first Marathi rock band by the radio station.
Most of Moksh’s band members are either still in college or have regular jobs. “One of our most memorable gigs is the one that we played last year on Diwali in Thane. We made our own stage on Ram Maruti Road and managed to get permissions for the performance within two days. We started playing at 6.30 am to an audience of 400 people. When we wrapped up at 7.30 am, there were close to 5,000 people,” says band manager and bassist Sagar Joshi, who feels that though there’s definitely an audience for Marathi rock, no one is marketing it yet.
“If Malayalam-rock band Avial could play at Blue Frog to a packed audience, why not us?”
Kandivali-based rock band Vidhyadhar Bhave And A Detached Foundation, formed in 2009, has similar grouses. “I’m a bit reserved about the kind of shows I want to do. I don’t like the way the most organisers treat us,” says frontman and vocalist Bhave, who plays a range of genres such as rock, hip-hop and Hindustani classical in Hindi and Marathi.
“Places like Blue Frog and Hard Rock Café are very closed to regional bands. I don’t think the Hard Rock Café in China plays only English music,” argues Bhave. When not performing with his band, Bhave does film music direction and production. His latest work will appear in upcoming Marathi film Sixer by Gajendra Ahire. Talking about his local audience, Bhave says, “Our audience is obviously the people who speak and understand the language. I feel that places like Pune and Nagpur are far more receptive for such music than Mumbai.”