Ankur Sabharwal’s music is made from the memories

Singer-songwriter and theatre actor Ankur Sabharwal’s latest release ‘Drifting’ rides on nostalgia

April 18, 2023 05:37 pm | Updated 05:55 pm IST

Ankur Sabharwal

Ankur Sabharwal | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Going beyond the technological shifts and connecting listeners to the bygone days through nostalgia is singer-songwriter and theatre person Ankur Sabharwal who is set to release his latest video ‘Drifting’. The song is a rock ballad featuring veteran Gussy Rikh using a guitar with nylon strings. “The central thought for the song is encapsulated by the bridge “Id like to go back sometime to the places where I’ve been and sit around with all the people, only some of whom remain This is what sparked the idea of the song,” says the New Delhi-based musician in a chat with The Hindu.

‘Drifting’ has the protagonist reminiscing about childhood memories and finding solace in the nook and corners of his home. The video features Ankur and his son Arjun who is depicted as the younger Ankur. “Nostalgia is easily relatable because everyone reminisces about the past. Personally, I am drawn towards things that have been around - antiques, old photographs etc. I love reconnecting with people and places from my past as I find it very comforting. That is where this song comes from.”

Tech and fro

Ankur Sabharwal with son Arjun in the video ‘Drifting’

Ankur Sabharwal with son Arjun in the video ‘Drifting’ | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

The video was conceptualised by Ankur with Mrinal Bahukhandi, who also directed it. A bulk of the footage was shot at Ankur’s home in Delhi and that footage was later projected on Ankur and his son in the studio as Mrinal wanted to create a feeling of “suspension of time” and an overlap of the past and the present. Ankur says, “The footage of the darkroom process with the fading in of the image in the photochemical bath was thanks to Srinivas Kuruganti who is an ace photographer and printmaker. Mrinal told both Arjun and me to keep our movements minimal and subtle as he wanted to give the illusion of a video that is “still in motion” to match the mood of the song.”

Keeping with the theme of the song, Ankur says, he already had Gussy in mind. “We did experiment with the electric guitar and steel strings, but ultimately the nylon string guitar seemed to be the best fit. Gussy’s playing not only added an incredible sonic dimension but also contributed to the overall spirit and aura of ‘Drifting’,” he adds.

Was his son’s part scripted during the conception of the video? “It was something I had discussed with Mrinal but in the context of creating the cover art for the song. The idea of including him in the video occurred to Mrinal at my home when we were discussing ideas and he met my son Arjun, who he felt looked like a younger me.”

Theatre roots

Ankur spent his formative years immersed in musical theatre. He played leading roles in large-scale professional productions including West Side Story (as Tony), Grease (as Danny Zuko), Evita (as Juan Peron), The Sleeping Beauty (as The Handsome Prince) and Fame (as Joe Vegas). He further worked in HAIR the Musical (as Claude Bukowski) with the Neemrana Music Foundation and was also cast in Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding Musical (Staging Preview) in 2019. 

Ankur was part of two rock-and-roll bands, Canzona and Gone Fishing, and also did a fair amount of work on radio, TV and films.  He released his solo EP The Ride in 2020 and earned accolades and awards for his video ‘Better Man’ in 2021, a homage to the history of cinema.

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