Singer-actor Monica Dogra’s performance of electronic rock music swept the Chennai audience off its feet

On her first ever visit to Chennai to perform at the IndiEarth festival, which provides a platform for independent artistes and filmmakers working outside of the mainstream, Monica Dogra delivered a thumping performance of electronic rock music that kept the head bangers, strumming their imaginary guitars, busy on their feet late into the night here at The Park hotel. Representing the two-member band, Shaai’r and Func, Monica, dressed in a waist coat and a flowing golden skirt, presented an hour of superb entertainment along with guitarist Randolph Carreia. The performance featured songs such as ‘Drink more water’ and ‘Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven’ from her yet-to-be-released album and those from their previously released albums, Mantis (2010) and The Love Album (2006).

Speaking just minutes after the performance, Monica excitedly described her first visit to Chennai as ‘warm.’ She seemed to have taken a special liking to the women in the city. “The women are beautiful here,” she said.

The singer wasn’t complaining about the independent music scene in India and sounded optimistic about the future. The scene is changing, she said. She recollected how, until a few years ago, she would be asked what her day job was.

Today, it is possible for an independent artiste to make a living, she said. “Five years ago, would you have thought that an independent artiste would travel outside India to perform?” she rhetorically asked, before adding, “All this has changed in a very short time.”

Monica prefers to work in this space because she feels ‘she hasn’t done enough’. “As an artiste, I want my work to disseminate positive social messages,” she said. Perhaps, this is the reason her career as an actor failed to take off the way it was expected to after she appeared in Kiran Rao’s Dhobi Ghat. “The mainstream is saddled with regressive representation of women. I don’t want to be part of this,” she said.

Would she stay committed to the ideal of creating ‘politically progressive’ work even when it means losing a lot of money? “I will never do a skin whitening ad,” she emphasised, adding that she was firmly allied with those committed to ‘alternative’ arts. “I would love to live with a purpose,” she said.