Art that raises questions

For singer, producer and actor Monica Dogra, art is more than just entertainment. “It helps people relate to concepts that are unheard of; to people and situations that they otherwise shy away from,” she says. “Growing up, I was a lonely kid in a broken family, and art kept me company. It helped me feel included, and be part of a family and community,” she adds, over a call. Over the years, this lesson from her childhood, she says, defined the kind of work she did — be it her roles in films, or the songs she wrote. “Many of my works have a strong message about feminism,” says Monica, whose favourite artistes include Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix among others.

Even her latest music video ‘Shiver’ from the album Spit (which was released earlier this year by Universal Music) delves into the concept of equality for all. “Over the course of the years, this subject had continued to bother me. I began to question the need for equality among women and cross-genders. This video is an attempt to start a dialogue about this subject,” she says. The idea swirled in her head for five years, before she took the plunge to create one of her “most challenging videos so far”.

‘Shiver’ is Monica’s largest collaborative effort till date. “I have to say I truly understand the value of community as a result of finally making this work... I roped in artistes from all over the world,” she says. The team behind the video includes director Navzar Eranee who was the assistant director for Guru, choreographer Jasmine Albuquerque Croissant, an international dancer who was part of Ryan Heffington’s (Sia/FKA Twigs choreographer) dance troupe Fingered and has choreographed videos for the likes of Devendra Banhart and Bob Wayne, and Shanker Raman, director of photography for the video, who is a National Award-winning cinematographer.

“My hope is that this art will quietly enter people’s hearts and minds, starting very necessary conversation. But for me, the gift was just creating it. That was just pure magic,” she adds. “The first half is just spoken word, and shows a girl who goes to an audition at an old theatre full of eccentric characters, who predominantly display feminine expressions. In the process, it brushes upon stories of survival, freedom to be open about one’s sexual orientation and the important question: Why should those who are different suffer admonishment?” says Monica.

“None of it was premeditated though. I remember writing this at 4 a.m. after waking up with a bad hangover. I also remember munching on a bar of dark chocolate, and holding a book of which I had completed 15 or so pages,” she says with a laugh. “But I began to write the song, and I completed it in one shot,” she says.

The challenging part was the production. “I put the project out for crowdfunding (campaign on Ketto was to raise Rs. 32 lakh), but couldn’t raise enough. So none of them in the team have been paid, despite working for two years on it. I am just glad that I got to work with people who are in it purely because of their passion for the art,” she says.

The video is available on YouTube.

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Printable version | Jun 12, 2021 7:17:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/Art-that-raises-questions/article14928428.ece

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