Review by Vinoo
Leaving Home : The Life and Music of Indian Ocean (2008)
Language : English / Hindi
Director : Jaideep Varma
This one will go right alongside ‘Buena Vista Social Club’ in my collection. Hats off to Jaideep Varma for a wonderful tribute to, arguably, the best band in the country. The passion with which the group makes their music is nothing short of infectious. The film begins wonderfully with various sounds, street calls, vehicle honks, hawkers singing, all of which could be music if seen the way it should be, culminating in the house where Indian Ocean has been jamming for years making the wonderful music that they are. The inspiration to the music that Indian Ocean makes has been varied, be it the ‘Ma Rewa’ from the people of Narmada, or ‘Kaun’ inspired by Kashmir, or ‘Kandisa’ pulled out from Aramaic, or the wonderful music for ‘Black Friday’ which is definitely one of those films where the soundtrack will be talked of much after the film’s lifetime. There have been moments when I have caught myself singing aloud ‘Ma Rewa’, ‘Kandisa’, ‘Bandeh’, ‘Tun tun tanaa na’ and lots more. It is music you just loved, music you couldn’t ignore, music you couldn’t slot. A lot of soul in the music they create. And what a wonderful tribute Piyush Mishra gives the band with his ‘Badtameezi’ comment which I will avoid translating cos it can’t be. Like the band members themselves confess “None of us are among the best of musicians. In fact, we are all in the middle rung and just about mediocre. But when we come together we are a different animal, we create magic”.
Indeed. I mean the magic. Magic churned out of the ‘Indian Ocean’ workshop in Delhi. Each one of the band members Susmit Sen, Asheem Chakravarthy, Rahul Ram and Amit Kilam are distinctly different and when they come together they can only be referred to in the collective. Many people have come and gone out of the band. But they didn’t miss anyone as bad as they did bassist Indrajit Dutta. What a moment when he just sits with the guitar and peels off his nails before playing for two full hours. On Susmit’s insistence Indrajit came back from his secure job at CPWD to try his hand at the Guitar. After the session his regret at not having been part of the group is a heartbreaker. It is very much like many of us who give up our passion for a regular job, a salary at the end of the month. Sigh! Asheem singing ‘Wahan kaun hai tera musafir jayega kahan’ choked me. It is sad that he passed away very recently and the movie has a tribute to him in the end credits. Like always the group will find their own and continue making music that people like me will continue humming. ‘Kandisa’ for instance, I remember humming it way back in 2000 from a cassette that my brother dropped off for me with the mention that this is mind-blowing and a big rage in JNU. What a journey it has been since, with the group. Also loved Rahul Ram’s comment on why the ‘firangs’ gave their music a lukewarm response because they couldn’t digest Indians mastering an instrument that is decidedly Western. And how well the group has used guitar to bring live the sounds of an Indian instrument sound like that of the ‘Sarangi’ for instance or the folk sounds of ‘Ma Rewa’ by dropping the pitch because they couldn’t match the high pitch of the folk singers… I could go on and on. I’d rather you watch it. I sure will watch it at least one more time.
Jaideep varma has also directed ‘Hulla’ which had a premature exit from the screens rather suspiciously. Hope to pick up the DVD sometime. Thanks Mo, Param, Jaideep and team for a wonderful film. Sure will pick up this one for my collection.
Useless trivia : Asheem and Susmit quit advertising to start ‘Indian Ocean’. I have hope J. The group wouldn’t be complete without Rahul Ram and Amit Kilam and of course Indrajit Dutta, even if briefly. Also Shaleen Sharma and Anirban Roy in the initial days. The band’s name, ‘Indian Ocean’, was Susmit’s father’s suggestion. The albums of the group include ‘Desert Rain’, ‘Jhini’, ‘Kandisa’, ‘Black Friday’ and hot on the charts now is ‘Peepli Live’. ‘Yaara maula’ in Anurag Kashyap’s ‘Gulaal’ was sung by Rahul and Asheem.