After setting global standards with their music, Bangalore rockers Thermal And A Quarter are now out with a movie. Allan Moses Rodricks gives us the inside story
Local lads Thermal And A Quarter have numerous feathers in their cap — from global tours, a series of top-ranking albums, opening for legendary international acts, winning a range of international awards to pioneering a genre called Bangalore Rock. Their latest offering is a movie. Titled WFW/DFD, the film is an artsy take on the life of artistes, their triumphs and failures.
Talking to MetroPlus before the movie’s premiere at BFlat last weekend, TAAQ front man Bruce Lee Mani says he’s excited about the film.
“It’s called WFW/DFD. I can tell you what it is but you can’t print it,” says Bruce with a grin. “You will get the idea behind the name if you watch the movie closely,” he adds.
Bruce explains that the film is about artists, musicians and other mad people. “It's about us, them and you. It is about triumph and tragedy and rebirth and resilience. It is a story, it is a song and it is a statement.”
Shot in black and white, the movie follows TAAQ on their tour of Scotland, Ireland and their performances at the largest arts festival in the world – the Edinburgh Fringe.
“Just being at the Edinburgh Fringe and experiencing the spirit of being in the arts inspired this story. It’s about big artistes and fantastically-talented entertainers who give it their best but barely get anything in return. We saw comics and dancers and musicians getting on stage and performing but hardly had any audience. Yet, it doesn’t stop them. And that’s the madness and love that keeps them wanting to do what they do. Even in India, we have so many bands. But it’s hard for them to play their own music, bring CDs out and push it. The movie dwells on things like this.”
“We had photographer Harmit Singh shooting and he made the stylistic call to shoot in B&W. Edinburgh is a very old period-looking city with a very architecturally vintage feel and cobbled streets so it suited the film perfectly.”
They initially wanted to make it a music video. “But when sifting through the enormous amount of footage, we realised this had a broader scope. We believed we had to tell a story from this. So the 37-minute film came into being and talks about things we strongly believed in,” explains Bruce. What sets this apart? Bruce says this is not a rockumentary. “Though we are in it, it’s bigger than the band itself. It’s a film about life in the arts and not a chronicle of TAAQ.”
The movie takes on bigger-than-life issues with Bruce’s narrative pegging ideas along. From their show at the festival to their jam sessions, it opens curtains to the inside life of a musician. Following their dreams, their passions and their toils, the movie raises many questions and goes deeper with every frame.
“It’s important that what we have always being proud of is our body of work. We have being fulltime musicians for the last five years after quitting our corporate jobs. In the 18 years we have being around, there have been five albums the last one a triple album and now we have a movie. And it’s special because it’s from the heart. It is about the way we feel.”
Expressing his angst, Bruce says people tell us we are pioneers and we’ve done stuff other bands can only dream of. “But tomorrow if some political bigwig comes to power and deems us illegal, we have nowhere to go. I am paying as much taxes as the next person and in heart we are as Indian as anyone else. Yet it’s possible. We live with this fear constantly. When is our profession going to disappear? What happens if it’s not viable anymore? The film acts as a cathartic process for us. We hope to inspire people that if they love what they do, just keep doing it.”
After the rousing applause to the movie from the packed audience, a teary-eyed Bruce and the band – drummer Rajeev Rajagopal and bassist Leslie Charles – picked up their instruments. With guitarist Ramanan Chandramouli joining them for the show, TAAQ played a fantastic line-up.
Playing never before heard covers of songs by Blood Sweat & Tears, Dire Straits, Sting, Steely Dan, Gilbert O'Sullivan and John Scofield, TAAQ also paid tribute to two Bangalore bands – Lounge Piranha and Zebediah Plush – that don’t exist anymore. Playing long into the night, TAAQ went on to play their own songs. Cheers to the city’s rockers. We wonder what’s next.