Thakara’s songs speak of rising against the ills of the system

“This machine kills the corrupt,” reads the sticker on singer Arun James’ guitar. The music video of his song—‘Koran’s Anthem’—shows scams and bribes, potholes and water shortages, gas price hikes and petrol costs. All along, a young boy walks through the chaos with a lamp in hand. A final montage of people with inked forefingers closes the video with the message— “Vote and music—two legal weapons everyone can use.”

Arun is lead singer of Kochi-based Thakara, a collective of musicians and filmmakers, and ‘Koran’s Anthem’ was co-written with their cinematographer, Sunil C.N. “We’ve been wanting to write about the great Indian political circus for a while now, and the elections seemed just the right time to do so,” says Arun. Back in college, Arun remembers thinking politics was a game best stayed out of; and notices that many youngsters today believe the same. “I later realised that at the end of the day, we are part of this system, and the only way for change is from within, by voting. We made this video to tell today’s youth this”

‘Koran’s Anthem’, performed with Sreekanth Bhasi, is Thakara’s third original song since 2012, when the band first sprung to notice with ‘Podi Penne’, a song by a heartbroken lover. Thakara met fame with ‘Puttu Pattu’, a melody about the tough lives of simple people. In spirit, ‘Puttu Pattu’ resonates with ‘Koran’s Anthem’, since both speak of the struggles of everyday living.

Thakara itself came about from the challenges young artistes face. Arun has just returned from Chennai in 2012, when he met a bunch of young filmmakers. “I had a guitar with me and I was their evening entertainment provider. The scratch ideas for many of our songs today were born then,” says Arun. The group of 10 friends decided to collaborate on each other’s projects and Thakara was born. They first shot the video for Podi Penne in one night . Today, many are plugged into the Malayalam film industry, with some of the video crew in Kochi while a few musicians are in Bangalore. But the team continues to work together.

Raising funds

Their first two music videos were made on a zero budget but they still garnered over 2.5 and three lakh views on YouTube respectively. The funds for ‘Koran’s Anthem’, however, were raised by crowd-funding. “After ‘Puttu Pattu’, we didn’t put out anything for almost a year and a half, and many people wondered why. There were obvious limitations working on no budget and for our new video, I wanted to raise the bar further.” That’s when Arun heard of crowd-funding and wondered if a similar system would work in Kerala. Enquires were made and soon enough, there were a few people ready to support this new venture encouraging voting.

With ‘Koran’s Anthem’ gaining popularity online by the day, Arun is hopeful about the future. Thakara has a handful of originals ready and is looking for a producer. In the meantime, watch out for the release of their song in the forthcoming film, Koothara. Thakara’s music can be viewed online at Thakaraband.