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Rock on roadtrip

Socially relevant folk rockers Swarathma release video against domestic violence, perform unplugged gigs around country.
Hindustan Times | By Sharin Bhatti, Mumbai
UPDATED ON MAR 06, 2011 03:57 PM IST

Now here is a band that started out as an irreverent, rebellious, patriotic bunch of guys who drove their Kannada culture into their songs and called themselves Swarathma. Dressed in stage gear that ranged from colourful dhotis to Jodhpuri jackets, their Kannada, Hindi and English lyrics rhymed about everything from religion and politics to love.

The band is now collaborating with NGO Breakthrough’s Bell Bajao campaign and singing out loud against domestic violence. The track, ‘Pyaar ke rang…’, essentially a love song, is being promoted as a anthem against the social evil.

Breakthrough has produced a mockumentary video of the composition and is now taking the band around the country with a video van and roadtrip gigs. Percussionist and background vocalist Pavan Kumar explains that Swarathma has always performed free gigs for NGOs, old age homes, orphanages, schools for the blind and other such places as part of their initiative Action Replay. Breakthrough found them via one such gig and got them on board for the video van tour.

On board
“They contacted us and offered to make a video of ‘Pyar ke rang…’ that will henceforth be the song for the campaign’s video van tour. We got to travel to this small town in Karnataka called Putur. We performed an unplugged open-air concert at a small fair, next to a temple for the locals,” reveals Kumar, adding, “Breakthrough’s shot our journey in the train to that town and the concert. It was inspirational for us to be able to perform in a non-intimidating, big stage arena.” The first leg of the video van tour will commence in the Capital starting next week, where the band will perform gigs along with a screening of the music video in different urban and rural pockets of the city.

Sanjeev, violinist, says that social activism, though inherent to the content and sound of the band, is not something that they consciously do.

Desi band
“I guess all of us think the same way. We sing and write songs about the world around us and the way we perceive things. And we are all very proud to be desi,” says Sanjeev. The band is currently working on their new album, which they plan to start recording soon. “We hope to release it before the year ends,” says Sanjeev.

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