New Delhi, Feb 24 (IANS) A single number changed the course of contemporary fusion music in India in 2000, which till then was dominated by popular music formats from the West and Bollywood.
Now leading contemporary fusion band Indian Ocean is set to recreate the magic of 'Kandisa', a song that gave footloose India something to hum 24x7.
A loose remake of an Aramaic hyme, 'Kandisa' was set to a raucous ethnic Indian beat on the drums, tabla, the guitar and powerful vocals. It achieved near-iconic status.
Indian Ocean wants to bring back the same old magic with its new song 'Sone ki Nagri' from the movie 'Halla', being directed by Jaydeep Verma.
'It's a very contemporary song about the state of affairs in the country,' explains percussionist Asheem Chakraborty.
The band is now 'loaded' with work from Bollywood, admits lead guitarist Sushmit Sen.
'We don't even have time to take a break to cut our own album. The past months have been so loaded,' Sen, who is 'fiercely loyal' about the band's originality and purity of sounds, told IANS minutes after the band played some of their 'latest originals' at the ongoing East Wind Music Festival here.
'We have just sung six numbers for 'Bhumi', a movie by newcomer Aveek Mukhopadhyay. One of them has the live version of 'Hille Le', a verse by poet Gorakh Pandey from Bihar, set to tune by us,' Sen said.
The numbers they played on stage are yet to be released, he adds.
The band has earlier provided music for Anurag Basu's 'Black Friday'.
Rahul Ram, a doctorate in environmental toxicology from Cornell University, anchors Indian Ocean along with Sushmit Sen on the guitars. While Asheem Chakraborty plays the tabla, the versatile Amit Keelam accompanies on the drums, vocals and many other forms of percussion.
The band was formed in 1990 when Sushmit met Asheem at a jamming session and they broke into the mainstream in 1998 after Times Music brought the foursome into its fold.
The movie 'Bhumi' releases July 15, while 'Halla' has been awaiting release since November 2007. 'Shunya', a movie about a sportsman starring Kay Kay Menon, for which the group sang a number in 2005, is also set to hit the theatres soon.
'Can't set the time frame though... that's how Bollywood works,' reasons Rahul. 'We have also sung a one-and-a-half-minute number for a short film made by Anurag Basu,' he added.
Why was 'Kandisa' iconic?
'Kandisa' was iconic because it sounded good and was promoted well. It struck the right chord in the listener, but there have been other songs after 'Kandisa' that became hits like 'Ma Rewa', 'Hille Re' and 'Are Ruk Ja Re Bande' from 'Black Friday'... Who knows if our next song will be another 'Kandisa',' says Rahul, the group's lead vocalist.
The group is said to cull its influences from folk, Sufi music, rock, Indipop, jazz and blues.
'Anything that sounds good forms the basis of our music. Be it classical, rock, jazz, Sufi and folk, though the later dominates most of our numbers,' he admits.
'For us, music is something more than just hammering out numbers. It has to have a profound universal feel,' he explains. Which is why probably the group takes 'six months to a year to cut a new album'.
'We are choosy. And we are glad that the right kind of directors and producers are approaching us to make music for them.
'We simply refuse to compromise on originality. We keep the copyrights of the songs that we have sung for movies. Later, we throw out their lyrics and replace them with our own. This way the numbers are essentially Indian Ocean's,' Rahul says.
The foursome is also planning a new CD.
'We have six to eight songs in our kitty. Two numbers from the movies 'Halla' and 'Bhumi', and four tentative numbers we are toying with,' reveals Rahul.
They include 'one Kabir's song, an old Kannada folk song that I heard as a four-year-old, a Bheelali (of Bhil tribals) folk song and a couple of Rajasthani folk tunes.
'But we'd never do a night club number, mind you,' laughs Rahul, proving that Indian Ocean still has its moorings intact.