Bringing out the patriot in me…

As I’ve been ranting over the last few entries, one of my main goals besides doing well in the course and actually studying for once in my life, I plan to really concentrate on my music and take my meager guitaring skills of 7 years ( yes…it has been that long that I have been pathetic ) and turn it into something a little more credible. I’ve met up with this pretty neat singer who is still vocalist with a band who shares the same enthusiasm for rock and western music as I; and we’ve had a few jam sessions.

I have carried the guitar along. It is definitely one of my saving graces in all this shuttling around with the resorts and classes and all the other jazz. Anyway, after a few jam sessions, I’ve come back to a very interesting debate which I had with the last band – Which is to be given more priority for an artist – is it what the audience wants or is it what the artist wants to play ? Ushuu…full heavy duty word I’ve used to describe my sea of talent….artist it seems! (Cough …cough…)

Anyway, the reason this topic is back again is thanks to what seems to be happening every time we take the jam session public. We start of with some of our favourites like Pink Floyd, Metallica, GNR, etc. But by the time the crowd gathers, thanks to requests, we end up playing hindi songs. Now, I honestly don’t have anything against bollywood music, but it’s just that I am far more comfortable with my western influence of music. The audience also do not seem to mind if you play the same song again, but you must play Hindi. I don’t believe I’ve ever been forced so badly to be patriotic. Laying the cards out on the table, I’d select a Floyd song over a Kishoreda song any day. So do I cave into the audience requests and play Hindi, sometimes Tamil songs ( 99% of which I have never heard of) or do I stay true to my urge to rock and roll? Some say the audience is the king-maker while the other school of thought says that as long as your song is sincere and you play the tune your heart tells you, it’s all that matters. Kindly excuse the comparison, but I believe people like Bob Dylan and Bob Marley made it thanks to the latter. What about all the great grunge rock artists like Eddie Vedder and Kurt Cobain? They followed the heart….why shouldn’t I? When Metallica started out, there was a very small audience that wanted to listen to their brand of metal…not a single record company would sign them. But look at them today. They have an army of worshippers. ( Yes…Metallica is God) and this is because they’ve stayed true to what they’ve wanted to play? So shouldn’t I be there?

But alas, I need to understand that this is India and we’re not yet at that stage of our cultural evolution to accept what isn’t part of the norm. Maybe the next gen of rockers can rock in any language and not be bound by the audience demand for hindi songs. Thanks to music television, even the local bands don’t get the same publicity as some reality TV show winner. Why? Simple, we all believe that there lies a greater purity in hindi music as compared to non-hindi music. A certain ‘holier than thou’ approach to the whole matter, but who is holier? Until we can answer that question, I guess I have to swallow my pride and learn a few Hindi songs and play them every now and then if I am expected to have an audience of some sort.

Jai Ho !

I just might have to learn the songs to Slum Dog Millionaire too….that day I shall give up playing the guitar and will take up the harmonium on the Mumbai local trains. I believe I already have the voice in place. Allah ke naam pe dede baba...