Joshish, Betukay,Maujood, Manaazil, Ird Gird… Do they sound familiar to you or do they seem like words lifted straight from a beautiful verse? If they sound familiar, then obviously you have heard of Joshish , the experimental/progressive rock band from Bhopal, now based in Mumbai who shot into the limelight of the Indian Rock Music scenario with MTV Rock on, where they were featured as one of the top ten Indi rock bands . Those who haven’t heard of them till date , I strongly recommend checking them out in My Space and You tube starting with their first official release of 2007- Ho Subah till the current Betukay which has already begun to create waves globally for its uniqueness
What appears to be their USP as observed from a mini survey that we had conducted among a section of our readers were the strong vocals and guitar solos , supported aptly by the riffs and meaningful lyrics combined with a raw energy.
Fried Eye had the opportunity to chat up with their frontman cum guitarist cum lyricist Sameer Rahat who spoke at length about their struggle, their aspirations and their music. He was never short of words or for that matter of humour and enthusiasm either. No wonder they never ran short of words for their songs and not just Betukay words but rather deep and meaningful ones with an underlying message for the people. Sameer does seem to have an ear for the right words as can be seen from the choice of titles (He being responsible for the lyrics- “Yes, lyrics are totally my zone.” Though a regular creative session is usually an unplanned one and a team work, but lyrics is something that is exclusively for Sameer) . From Joshish to Betukay, Moujood, Manazil and their next on the pipeline Ird Gird every title had been chosen with care. Hence the first question that was thrown at them was precisely about the name of the Band- Joshish. Sameer patiently explained how much thought had gone into the naming of the band as they wanted an unique name that could convey the essence of their music and ‘something which would be exclusively found in google’ and he had come up with Joshish, a Arabian Persian word meaning passion, a crusade. Just like he had come up with Ird Gird, their upcoming album, which he said would be about the everyday perception of life -Things that just happened around you and how they affect you in different ways
Betukay, a song about self empowerment, is a different experimentation and a total deviation from what they had been playing till date. This is their third official release and they had released earlier Ho Subah and Still not too late. Ho Subah was an impressive debut, a mellow track focusing on Terrorism and Hope and was well received by their fans.
“ We have come a long way since Ho Subah , but for us it will always remain a special one “ said Sameer fondly remembering their first taste of success. Ho Subah though well received was comparatively underpromoted and hence it stayed confined to only a section of listeners. Fresh and new in the circuit back then , they were “more into making meaningful music rather than commercializing it” and were just happy to play good music and thrill their fans. After Still not too late, they decided to take a break from the recording studios and instead “decided to concentrate on self discovery and discovering what their music was”. They however continued playing in the local college and festival circuit. But wherever they went they strictly stuck to their own compositions and so songs like Maujood and Manaazil became a rage over a period. The only time when they had to belt out Bollywood tracks instead of their own was in MTV Rock On where their reluctance to do so always gave them a different aspect then the other bands and their disinclination towards not playing their own songs was the top story throughout the season, but they still managed to stay among the top four despite their discomfiture.
Five years since they decided to create music together , they have managed to stay together through thick and thin, carrying forward their dream and passion – A journey which had seen many hardships , struggle, balancing acts and changes in line up of their band, finally settling down to the original line up of Sameer the lead vocalist and on bass guitars, Shwetang Shankar on the drums and Shatarchi Hundet on the lead guitars and effects. – A journey which had made them shift base from to Mumbai and one which had turned out to be a right move providing them with wider scope and opportunity .
“WE are still in a struggling phase” Sameer maintained.
Their humble origins from Bhopal was often met with skepticism, but in spite of all their odds, their focus and hard work paid off and Betukay was released. I could sense their focus when Sameer replied in the negative to my query of their highest point of their musical career.
“ We are still struggling and Our highest point is yet to come, which we hope to attain with Ird Gird if everything turns out well.”
Betukay which is an experimentation, is a door, a key to more promising things to come. Speaking of Betukay, I could sense the excitement at the other end of the line as Sameer spoke of global acceptance of Betukay. They have been featured in Big M and they also have been approached by a UK based magazine for an interview and promotion of Betukay. What strikes you most in Betukay is the singularity of its sound and is quite different from what the listeners are accustomed to when they conjure up images of Indi Rock. “We want our music to be global in sound yet one which anyone can relate to.” I agreed with him when he said that Rock music catered to only a niche audience in India, and he wished with all his heart for it to be far reaching.
“I want that our music should reach every man. Even the autowallahs” And that is the reason they had stuck to hindi as their medium while experimenting with the genre. He confessed of facing some cynicism from some quarters for Betukay for its atypical feel but finally what mattered was that they had taken the long planned first step towards their vision of mass acceptance which they are hoping from Ird Gird next year. I made a mental note to myself to follow it up when it released next year. Ho Subah had certainly made a mark on my mind and I certainly was going to watch out for more.
On a lighter note I asked him which song or songs would he recommend to a first time listener . He paused only for a few seconds before replying Maujood and Betukay-Betukay for the ”technical stuff” he added. So now you know which one to head for if you are a first time listener of Joshish. Maujood though still unreleased, has been played many times onstage and is one of the popular numbers of the band. The words stage show suddenly reminded me how their fans had applauded their live acts as an audio visual treat and I decided to worm out the secret of their on stage success.
“Humour ! Plenty of Stupid Humour!’ and I couldn’t refrain myself from chuckling out aloud. Not everyday did you get a man who could laugh at himself. “ We chat and interact a lot with our fans between performances, crack jokes… “ and also keep the atmosphere charged probably.
Ironically I decided to ask him about a somewhat serious matter just when we were warming up to the conversation. On inquiring what positive change he would like to see at present if one compared the Indian rock music scenario progressively from 1960s, he replied “Media has been one positive change ” Media’s evolution as a music friendly entity promoting upcoming talents through magazines, television and online magazines has been like a breath of fresh air to the Indian music scenario .
The one positive change that he would like to see now is the involvement of Bollywood in propagating Rock music among the masses which he said is sadly lacking and is one area with immense potential for mass propagation. But Bollywood has so far managed to stay away from the Indian Rock musicians.
Black Friday was an exception, but again that was Indian Ocean, an already established band. More over what they would really like to see about Rock music in movies is not as a situational music or something with a filmy touch, but rather rock music just for its entire sake which is not based on demands of the Director of the movie. And by that same logic, for real rock music, it would have to be composed by real rock musicians.
“And so they should in that manner give a chance to the upcoming bands. In fact they should try us too.” he added cheekily. If confidence, hard work and focus is a path to success, then they surely are on the right track. Finally it was time to wind up the interview and I asked him if there was any message for the readers and fans from them. And yes , he did have a message! He had one special requests for his fans, over and above the promise to give the best ,and that was to download legally the songs which were available at a minimal cost instead of downloading them illegally and encouraging piracy . After all one needs money to sustain and create good music too. Agreed Sameer! Creativity does need money to sustain.
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