Music

Varun Grover’s poem ‘Hum kagaz nahin dikhayenge’ will be set to music: Rahul Ram

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The musician and activist on climate change, Aisi Taisi Democracy, Indian Ocean and more

“I think climate change is pretty much irreversible. All we can do is maybe mitigate it a little bit or push it by 10 or 20 years,” says bassist of fusion rock band Indian Ocean and activist Rahul Ram. He was, in Bengaluru on January 5 to perform at Submerge, Science Gallery Bengaluru’s first exhibition season.

MetroPlus caught up with the unpretentious Delhi-based artiste at his chikkamma’s house on a quiet street in Jayanagar.

To the question of whether there is increased awareness about climate change and related issues, particularly in light of the visible activism of people such as Greta Thunberg, he says, “We are lucky that in India there are no climate change deniers. What we do have is central leadership that is not particularly aware or concerned about it. The government needs to run an awareness campaign. I don’t think the media is up to it because frankly, it is not very exciting and full of gloom.”

Adding that people also feel powerless in the face of climate change, Rahul says, “Even if you tell people things have to change, they will ask, ‘But what can little me do?’. Little me can just begin by consuming less of everything. Consume less electricity, use public transport… These are concrete things that you can tell people to do.”

The musician who has been a part of Indian Ocean since 1991 is also known for his work with Narmada Bachao Andolan and more recently has been a part of the political satire show Aisi Taisi Democracy with lyricist and writer Varun Grover and comedian Sanjay Rajoura. On what is happening with Aisi Taisi Democracy at the moment, Rahul says, “I have made a song out of Varun’s poem against the NRC and CAA, ‘Hum kagaz nahin dikhayenge’. There will be a video within a week, possibly with just placards and no faces because we don’t want to be responsible for people getting identified. Apart from that, our new season will start in March/April. As you can see, there is no dearth of material!”

It seems but a natural transition to ask if he thinks that celebrities or public figures should use their position and take a stand. “It is important [to speak out]. But look at what they have to lose. It is not fair frankly. I work for 30 years to be where I am and you expect me to stand up and give it all away. So, to each their own. If I know your heart is in the right place but you are not saying anything openly, maybe you will help in other ways.”

As for Indian Ocean’s future plans, he says, “We have a bunch of new material that we are going to release, probably starting next month. Not as an album though because no one wants to buy albums anymore. I think we will just let people download the songs for free much like what we did for our earlier album.”

Rahul adds that Indian Ocean, which has earlier worked on films such as Black Friday and Masaan, has composed songs for a few independent films.

He says, “A lot of younger film directors are open. They listen to independent music and import it into their films. I think the directors like the kind of music we do. But a lot of them like the Masaan songs which is different from what we do as well.” While agreeing that the music also depends on what kind of film it is, he laughs, “Black Friday had good music but we didn’t get anybody running after us saying ‘hey, we liked it’. So, we have never managed to hit the jackpot.”

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 7:24:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/varun-grovers-poem-hum-kagaz-nahin-dikhayenge-will-be-set-to-music-rahul-ram/article30556408.ece

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