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Saturday, Sep 21, 2019

Dancing mops, amorous dogs, anime: The quirky indie music video is finally here

Musicians are collaborating with artists and graphic designers, using simple tech like Photoshop and PowerPoint, to create videos that reflect their identity.

music Updated: Jan 07, 2019 09:56 IST
Jayati Bhola
Jayati Bhola
Hindustan Times
In the video for Dualist Inquiry’s ‘You & Me’, singers Sahej  Bakshi and Sanchal Malhar (in silver, above) float and groove against a background created in collaboration with illustrator and animator Arushi Kathuria.
In the video for Dualist Inquiry’s ‘You & Me’, singers Sahej Bakshi and Sanchal Malhar (in silver, above) float and groove against a background created in collaboration with illustrator and animator Arushi Kathuria.
         

In the video for ‘Wild’ by Dhruv Visvanath, a smiling, animated mop leads the life of a yuppie — grocery shopping, going to the mall, chilling with friends.

Japanese anime characters populate a dystopian world called Candyland in the video for a song of the same name by Komorebi, an electronic pop band from Delhi.

‘Fighting the sumo’ by Your Chin is a Pacman-meets-Wall-E video that was created entirely on PowerPoint.

Indie musicians are breaking away from templates and getting more experimental, going for a shot-on-my-iPhone look or collaborating with illustrators and graphic designers to create low-cost videos that speak to their music in unique ways.

“We’ve seen a huge change since we started out in 2005,” says Hashim D’souza, programming head of English entertainment at VH1 India. “We’d often get half-baked videos which we couldn’t air. But that’s changing as musicians collaborate with creative people for more visibility in a digital age.”

In April, for instance, Delhi-based Suryakant Sawhney of the band Peter Cat Recording Co. (PCRC) shot a video for his song, Copulations, on an iPhone while holidaying in Goa. “My then girlfriend [now wife] and I were at the beach early in the morning and saw these two happy dogs prancing around in the waves, playing and wooing each other,” says Sawhney. 

That became the video, juxtaposed with a chaotic montage of violence, floods, and clips from political rallies. “We wanted to show that there’s joy on the planet too,” Sawhney says.

The videos, in that sense, act as extensions of the artiste’s brand. “In my experience, indie music videos in India have in general failed to reflect the artist’s personality,” says Sharath Ravishankar, director and animator of Komorebi’s Candyland video. “That’s changing with these new collaborations.”

TELLING A STORY

These collaborations are often informal, low-cost and conducted entirely online. Tarana Marwah, who performs as Komorebi, got in touch with animator Ravishankar, 22, via Instagram.

“We connected because we both have social anxiety, we have both this vulnerability in college. We decided to project those feelings through anime,” Marwah says.

This was Ravishankar’s first full-fledged project; he’s still an undergraduate student at the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad. He drew the anime frame by frame, on Photoshop. The two never met and collaborated entirely online for two months, until the video was released in March.  

Similarly, Dualist Inquiry, a one-man band made up of Delhi-based Sahej Bakshi, combined DIY and collaboration with illustrator and animator Arushi Kathuria and Delhi-based singer Sanchal Malhar to give ‘You & Me’ its ’70s, Daft Punk vibe.

Bakshi says he watched a YouTube tutorial on how to shoot with a green screen background, rented the camera and lights, shot the video in a day, and sent the footage across to Kathuria, who animated it over three weeks.  

The video is not to be taken seriously, Bakshi points out. “It’s supposed to be all freewheeling and moody; the music is meant to be the focus.”

In May 2016, Raxit Tewari released Fighting The Sumo, created entirely on Microsoft PowerPoint by filmmaker Misha Ghose. The video throws us back to the digitised visuals from Pacman, or even Mario as a white, blue-eyed robot travels across different landscapes. It took Ghose six months to complete the animation that she did frame by frame on Powerpoint which were then turned into running animation.  

“Making music videos is empowering for filmmakers because of its open format,” she says. For Tewari, the collaboration was the exciting bit and considers it as one of Misha’s passion project.

In Visvanath’s Wild, created with Mumbai-based filmmakers Tanvi Gandhi, Krish Makhija and Vasudha Rungta, you’re left wondering, why mops? “The idea is to put a spotlight on the busy, noisy and extremely mundane life we all lead, and the importance of pausing,” Visvanath says. The crew went around Mumbai looking for interesting locations for aerial shots, crowded shots and box-like flats. “The collaboration was vital because I had no creative input to offer, so I let Gandhi take charge.” 

“Technology has really simplified the process,” says Sawhney of PCRC. However, Bakshi adds, “Even a shoe-string budget can only work if the director of the video is competent.”

The way the videos are changing shows that these artists have taken matters into their hands; it’s a good evolution and a definite step forward, says D’souza of VH1.

“Perhaps over time they’ll become bolder in their themes and messages,” adds Arun Kale, founding editor of alternative culture magazine Helter Skelter, “move beyond special effects to actually tell stories.”

First Published: Jan 05, 2019 20:11 IST