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Playing a new tune

music Updated: Mar 17, 2012 22:54 IST
Suprateek Chatterjee
Suprateek Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Filmmaker Samira Kanwar, 31, used oto send CDs of indie artistes such as Raghu Dixit and Pentagram home to her parents in Muscat every now and then. However, while her mother appreciated these songs, her father, an avid Kishore Kumar and Mohammad Rafi fan, was indifferent towards them.

Last year, though, after The Dewarists - a show on which she is a director - aired on TV, her father started showing a little more interest. In his emails, he started telling her how much he liked artistes such as Bangalore-based folk rockers Swarathma and Pakistan-based folk pop duo Zeb and Haniya, both of whom had featured on the show.

"My parents must have introduced half of Muscat's Indian community to these bands," Samira says with a laugh.

Samira's parents have company in a growing segment of TV watchers in India who tune in to shows such as The Dewarists on Star World and MTV: Coke Studio India and MTV Roots, all of which are helping promote independent or non-Bollywood Indian music on a mainstream platform in a way that has never been attempted before - except, maybe, for the MTV show Jammin' in 2002.

While Jammin' had only a small, cult following, The Dewarists and MTV Unplugged were together watched by about 10 crore people.

"The Dewarists was one of my favourite shows last year. I liked how it showed the process of how music is created," Hansmukh Singh, marketing professional, said.

In an unusual move for Indian television, both channels uploaded episodes online, where they have gained a lot of traction.

"It made sense for us to do this because the audience we're trying to reach is spending more time in front of the computer screen than the TV," says Rasika Tyagi, programming head of Star World.

Coming up next, Big CBS Spark will start telecasting The Great Gig in the Sky by end-March. This music-cum-camping show takes trekkers and musicians to campsites where they participate in acoustic performances. MTV also has a new 'alternative' show in the works - Sound Tripping, which will involve 'musical experiments and travel' and is expected to begin airing in mid-April.

TV channel heads say the audience for these shows - mainly urban youngsters and yuppies aged 15 to 35 - is also a key consumer demographic for advertisers. As to the impact of these shows, Tyagi points to The Dewarists Facebook page as an indicator.

"Many comments (initially) asked questions like 'Who are these bands?' and 'Where are they from?'" says Tyagi. As the season progressed, the queries changed. "The comments, many from the same people, were now asking things like 'Where can I buy this band's album?'"