Music

Stories, fables and mystical elements find a way into Tamil rock band ‘Othasevuru’

Pravekha Ravichandran and Tharun Sekar of ‘Othasevuru’

Pravekha Ravichandran and Tharun Sekar of ‘Othasevuru’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Tamil pop band Othasevuru is making waves in the independent music circuit not only for its style statement but also for lyrical context

“If I traded wisdom, what do I get in return? I shall sanction fame.

If I traded fame, what do I get in return? I shall sanction loneliness.

If I traded loneliness, what do I get in return? I shall sanction love.

If I traded love, what do I get in return? I shall sanction lust.”

You get the drift, right? These metaphor-loaded exchanges between a man and God finds its way into the dreamy song ‘Iraivan Sandhippu’ written by a two-member Tamil indie band called Othasevuru (single wall), and comprising talents like Pravekha Ravichandran (vocals) and Tharun Sekar (vocals and guitar).

Heavily inspired by Kaber Vasuki and Tenma’s pop-rock band Kurangan, Pravekha says the duo encountered a “mid-life crisis” while still in college, sometime in 2017, which led them to embark on a path of self-discovery and mull over the purpose of life. That is when it hit them as to how “naked and small” they were in front of Mother Nature. Their experience also gave them fresh ideas and became the premise of their first song — aptly titled ‘Madaikulla Verum Mannu’.

“We performed for YouTube channel Terrance Jams, which is a platform to encourage indie bands. That is when people started noticing us,” says Pravekha.

The origin story

Their set consists of an average of six songs with a duration of three minutes each. By design, each song invariably follows the three act structure, and also has “the hero’s journey”, thereby giving the performance an overall narrative arc. “We love storytelling and every song contains a micro story in it. We both narrow in on a common thread for our songs, and then start writing,” he says, adding that both Tharun and him work on the lyrics together.

Othasevuru has an interesting way of functioning. Modelling themselves after Kaber and Tenma, the duo takes to the stage wearing shades. “This might seem like a style statement but that is not the point. We wear shades because it gives us confidence to face the crowd,” laughs Pravekha. They invent a scenario that forms the crux of the performance, setting mood and tone. A question is thrown at the audience, which gets resolved towards the end of the three-minute song, making it seem conversational. “ This way, we are able to gel with the audience. So far, we have only done live performances. Maybe that is why our songs may not be suitable for listening with headphones,” says Tharun.

Mystical musings

Existentialism is the vein of Othasevuru, if you pay attention to lyrics, especially, of songs like ‘Mandai Ennum Maidhanathil’. Unlike other bands, there is no tendency to romanticise existential thoughts, for they deal with everyday aspects of life. Like talking to a tree about human psychology, seeking a crow’s guidance about morality and so on. “Existentialism arises when you have questions about life,” remarks Pravekha, explaining their song structure. “But these are not abstract ideas. We conceptualise our songs based on everyday experiences. The challenge is to convert them into lyrical format.”

Stairway to fame
  • Othasevuru’s first gig at Kurangan’s show was a flop. However, the band was unanimously praised for its performance at Madras Medai 2018, an initiative by director Pa Ranjith.
  • The band landed an opportunity to traverse the mainstream path, when they were signed for ‘Namma Ooru Hero’, a television show hosted by Vijay Sethupathi. “We faced a lot of criticism and appreciation for the show. Some people said, ‘We couldn’t fathom what you were trying to convey’. But Vijay Sethupathi was very encouraging. He said, ‘I am your fan da’,” adds Pravekha.

One could argue that Othasevuru songs are part-fiction and part-observational, like the peppy ‘Meesakara Maarimuthu’ — a song that was written when Pravekha and Tharun were miles away in their respective hometown. The duo saw two interesting yet dramatically different incidents, and decided to put it together in the form of ‘Meesakara Maarimuthu’.

“We keep writing songs. Sometimes there is purpose, sometimes there isn’t. All our songs are based on personal accounts, and that reflects when we start jamming,” says Tharun. Would these imageries and subtexts hold water in the mainstream space? “You are making us sound like an ‘existential’ band. In reality, we are simple guys who just want to have fun,” concludes Pravekha with a laugh, while Tharun nods in agreement.

Othasevuru will perform inside the Chennai Metro on January 24 at 9.30am, travelling from Airport to Washermanpet and back, as part of Chennai Kalai Theru Vizha 2020

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 10:13:00 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/meet-indie-band-othasevuru/article30632144.ece

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