Hindi Rock…is this the only future?
Mihir Joshi looks back at some of the Indian bands which blurred the divide between the West and the East.art and culture Updated: May 16, 2007 19:45 IST
For me, the first band that comes to mind is without a doubt the Colonial Cousins. Pos sessing brilliance, Leslie Lewis and Hariharan weaved magic. Hariharan’s phenomenal voice blending in with the western touch that Leslie gave to the music, displayed just how good fusion can be.
Let me see the love in your eyes, Krishna and Indian rain from their first album were classics. They were also the first Indian band to go and play at the MTV Unplugged Concerts in the US. Their Unplugged album is still one of my favourite Indian albums.
Fuzon Their debut album Saa gar was another East-West fusion style classic. Songs like Jhoom jhoom, Deewane and Mora saiyaan made one had real class.
Shafqat Amanat Ali (vocalist), Shallum Asher Xavier (guitarist) and Imran Momina (pianist and composer), were able to fuse traditional style with western genres quite effortlessly One might also remember Junoon and Strings, though personally I didn’t fancy them.
Orange Street This band from Delhi, impressed me with their first album Dharma — Morey piya and Naash— two tracks that instantly come to mind.
Anirban Chakraborty sang rap/rock English vocals and Imran Khan, the Hindustani classical vocals. They have even managed to garner some international success after touring a few European cities.
Om This Mumbai band was the next to wow audiences with their unique mix of Indian and western styles. They were more Indian with predominantly local lyrics and a western instrumenta tion style fused with Indian sounds. Their vocalist Shriram is one of my favourite Indian vocalists.
Newbies I’ve had the pleasure of listening to two more bands that are to be shortly released — Indian band Agnee and the Pakistani Mekaal Hasan Band.
They’re different from each other. Agnee with Koko’s blistering guitar work, the classical vocals and percussion work of Mohan and Arijit’s urban vocals have a predominantly Indian feel.
The guys from the Mekaal Hasan Band are fabulous. They take off from where Fuzon left — a slightly more serious sounding Fuzon.
Their sound is distinctly western, thanks to the brilliant guitar work of Mekaal and his bandmates. Vocalist Javed Bashir is outstanding.
Looking ahead Is Hindi rock the only future for rock music in India? I hope not but it’s a good start and hopefully some day soon, English rock will also catch up it in terms of popularity .
(The writer is a radio jockey, singer and the editor of an online music magazine)