“People ask the question…. What’s a RocknRolla? And I tell ‘em- it’s not about the drums, drugs and hospital drips, oh no. There’s more there than that, my friend.”
– Archie (Mark Snow) in RockNRolla
This hits the nail right where it fits.
Somewhere in the thin long shadows of the madly melodramatic/infectiously bubbly/sometimes invariably bad cacophony called Bollywood music, lurks an infant independent Indian rock scene, biding its time to burst out in the open. For now, it is so underground, that it seems like it has a different pulsating ecosystem of its own.
If I had to describe the scene from an outsider’s perspective, it’s almost like that mysteriously beautiful woman at a party who you desperately want to approach, but are too intimidated to make a move.
Here’s what the people making up the scene look like from the foggy looking glass.
The Rockers (read musicians): As the name suggests, they rock the stage and make music. They are widely stereotyped as guitar toting hippies with an ongoing marijuana and alcohol habit who don’t have a worry in the world. They also do it to look cooler than their contemporaries and have a roaring social life that is the envy of other ordinary mortals.
The Managers (read Band Promoters and Management): These are a special breed. They all have John Travolta’s swagger (remember the movie Be Cool?) and use their slick charm to land their bands shows at the tip of the hat (and some icy cool eye contact followed by a firm handshake). Their social life is almost as colorful as that of their band.
The Support Staff (Read the sound, light and studio technicians): This breed of the scene may be termed as the nerds who speak in unintelligible lingo that laymen don’t have a hope of comprehending. They always have state of the art equipment at their beck and call and always look incredibly cool in their instagrammed photographs, working hard on their craft.
The Organisers (read the Money people): These are rich kids whose fathers have considerable business empires and extra money to throw down for some fun (read music concerts) and make handsome gains out of it at the same time. They have all the bragging rights of organizing big shows and hosting bands and the raucously ‘awesome’ after parties.
The Fans (read Posers and Hardliners): These are the gullible folk who are suckered into paying a lot of money to witness some of the most incredible live shows around. They also indulge in nefarious activities such as putting up posters of their favorite bands on their walls side by side with graffiti and getting high during shows and basically, having a good time. Some know about the music, some pretend to know; but in the end they all have a good time, because, hey, it’s a rock show!
Let’s snap back to reality now, shall we?
Kol Underground is an attempt to break through these myths of an independent local rock scene. It tries to take us through the past, present and the future of the rock scene in Kolkata with musicians and organisers opening up about how it really feels to be part of this, for want of a better word, movement. It also attempts to show the machinations and tensions and insecurities that brew up inside the bands and how the financial side of things play a huge role in a fight for their existence.
In short, it’s not all hunky dory as you might have been led to believe by the Big Brother!
In conclusion, if the un-bollywood independent music scene in India can be likened to Whoville, the madly happy and interesting town on a dust speck. All it needs are Horton who can hear a Who.