Indian Indie Music Gets its Own Docu
Anurag Tagat goes behind the scenes of a new docu series on the journey of Indian indie music
Did you know that author Rohinton Mistry had an album out? Or that Indus Creed, Leslie Lewis and Louis Banks travelled to the USSR at the behest of Rajiv Gandhi? Released October 14, Arjun S Ravi’s Standing By is a six-part web series that traces the roots and the journey of Indian independent music from the 30s to now.
Packed with juicy anecdotes and riveting history, the documentary is a massive project that Arjun managed to research and put together in two short years, with his camera crew hitting up music festivals across metros to talk to musicians from the non-film, “unpopular music” space in the country. It helped that he’s been a large part of the music scene for more than a decade now, looking out for bands, listening to badly-recorded demos and watching bottles thrown at gigs, first as a scenester, then as founder/editor of NH7.in.
But Arjun observes that interest in the independent music scene and Indian rock scene has been growing larger only since the last five years. “This scene has been getting more public exposure and media attention, and there have been more festivals only recently. This is the right time to be a part of this, and these people probably don’t know about the folks behind it.”
Shot by event and artist management company Only Much Louder and Red Bull Media House, Standing By is a lot more than just a documentary. Arjun says, “There’s also an interactive timeline that we will upload with each episode that has articles, videos and photos. It’s the one place you will go if you want to find out about what happened [in the scene]. We’ll keep adding more to it.”
Standing By features veterans such as keyboardist Louis Banks (whose father moved from Nepal to Kolkata and adopted a new name), singer Usha Uthup and Kolkata drummer Nondon Bagchi. Add to that about 100-odd guests from Vishal Dadlani to Nucleya, tons of archival footage and never-heard-before stories – like the 60s all-girl beat group The Ladybirds, to the legacy of record label executive Bhaskar Menon, who turned EMI around from a struggling business to a world-dominating record label in a year.
It’s also been a revelation for the bands featured. Rohit Pereira aka P-Man, who was the bassist for metal band Pin Drop Violence, says he truly realised he was part of something bigger and his own legacy as an independent musician when he was interviewed. Pereira says, “I love telling stories. I didn’t understand the magnitude of this project until I saw the trailer. I want to say it’s humbling for me to be in this documentary.”