The point

There’s no point in what I am going to write, and there’s no point in mentioning that too. But it’s been a while since I’ve stopped doing all the things that made me feel good – Playing Guitar, Writing, Composing music, watching Friends (TV series), listening to new music, Running, and all other things that made my day. And to be practical it was all because of state of mind. There was no point of stopping. I had an awful month trying to figure out the point of doing anything, or everything, and all I could do was nothing. So I am just going to write some things without thinking about what point they’ll make.

Any independent work has ups and downs, and seeing the negative sides of life isn’t a new experience for me. And I cannot blame a series of failures for making me this negative. It’s more of a shift in comfort zone, which is ironic since I have already stepped out of certain comfort zone to live the life I want. Few months back I had an ordinary life and like every person, there were certain people that were important to me, people that I used to live with, work with and spend my weekends with, people who’ve held my back in all the ups and downs of my life, who’ve been at my beck and call every time I needed. Then one day I decided that I’ll have to move to another city, and so I went on a 15 day trip to the city looking for future prospects of my work. That’s when I first realized that I’m infected by the virus of comfort, and it’s serious. Life on the other edge seemed to be cunning. The fear of standing against this virus made me numb. It actually physically made me unresponsive to almost everything – Talking out, screaming, listening, watching motivational videos, masturbating, working-out, drinking, nothing seemed to reach to my core. And it grew on me when I was shifting places, 8th time in past 3 years, after returning. It was different this time. People come and go, and I always thought that I am now used to that, but I guess I was wrong about myself. It’s like I had a treasure box till yesterday which I traded to take one more step towards my dreams. My destination still looks faded, but I lost the treasure box.

I started feeling incapable of doing anything and worthless to aspire for anything big. I couldn’t see the point of moving forward. My last released single failed miserably, and I couldn’t see the point of recording any more songs and releasing them. And since a lot of already composed songs were in line for recording and production, I couldn’t see the point of composing any new songs. All the projects/collaborations that I did for other people have earned them well, but failed to get me any kind of notice or name. My hunt for more projects became feeble as I couldn’t see a point of doing that. And finally I couldn’t see the point of losing the treasure box. Some people advised me to take professional help, start meditation, go on a meditation camp, etc. But doing all of that will mean giving in and I am not that weak yet. My music was my meditation and since a month my guitar strings and my fingers have become the same poles of a magnet. But I am sure I haven’t lost it, I can feel it inside me and it’s time I accept the challenge to play hide and seek with it. The one thing that I have accepted, or knelt before, is the quest of finding the point. As an old friend/mentor said, “If you look at the bigger picture, there’s nothing in the world that has a point as ultimately it’s going to end. You fight for a million dreams, and then one day you die. You should continue with your pursuit and stop finding reasons for everything. May be somewhere down your journey you might, but you’ll have to not stop.” And so, the journey will continue.

To all the people who came and went away and to some who are still hanging-in for me – I am a smaller person than you are. Somewhere down the line you’ve been an unalterable part of my story. I can never return what you did for me but I can promise you this: Your share in my pursuit will not go waste. May be the turn of events was not sad enough to be this negative and depressed about, but I have recovered from it. And to even the one person who follows my music – Cheers to this yet another beginning. My new single will be coming out soon.

Here is the link to my last release single:

*the featured image for the post is a sketch by the sand-artist Manisha Swarnkar. You can find her on:


A weekend at Triund

So I went on a trekking trip to Triund (McLeodganj) with a bunch of friends and friends of friends this weekend. I’ve been on more than a hundred such amazing trips that were only planned (I guess we all have), and so I was pretty sure that this was also not going to happen. But it did. It did and it has changed my life.

It officially started on Thursday 10:00 PM from Mayur Vihar, when our driver turned the meter down and said: “Reading note kar lo paaji!” Our stay, food, travel and every other big and small thing was already arranged. The road journey started amidst the dense traffic and intense pollution of Delhi, picking up people from different places and making its way to a picturesque bouquet of hills and trees. We were 15 people and few of us were absolutely new to everyone. The journey was, hence, mostly spent in formally-casual introductions and ‘getting to know each other’ kinds of conversations supported by some music and beer.

Busy streets of Delhi had already taken away our few hours and we reached the beginning spot of the trek pretty late. Our guide advised us to hire a cab for half the distance as it would get dark before we reached the top. He said we cannot make it. Now the 15 hour bus journey had left our spine desperately hunting for a bed, and the 10 km long hill already looked like ‘Whoa! I didn’t sign up for this.’ Given the situation, hiring a cab would probably have been the right choice. But how could the guide say ‘you can’t?’ – Delhi se hu BC. We hitched our backpacks and started walking through the steep hilly streets. 15 people were divided into 5 different groups. Every bite of pizza and every can of beer we’ve ever had in our lives suddenly appeared on the flash-back screen of our conscience and started deriding us. Every ounce of fat seemed to ask: “What happened to your ‘Eat Sleep and Conquer’ philosophy?” And just when we thought it ended, our guide said, “Well done people, we’ve already covered 10 percent of trek. Now buck up as we’re going to climb the rocks.”

After dragging our bodies and baggage for 5 hours continuously, we made it to the top of the hill. It was calm and beautiful. The tranquil gaze of the cities from miles above the ground was so stimulating. A thousand tents standing on this large green space on earth, people sitting on the rocks, gazing at the beauty, it looked like a different world where we didn’t have to worry about getting home late, or send a location update to our spouses, or receiving mails from office for the next day’s work plan. The evening was sheer bliss. A bonfire, the strumming of a guitar and people singing Ye haseen waadiyaan ye Khula aasmaa, cool winds echoing the melody, and some Old Monk pretty much encapsulate the story of the evening. People from other camps joined in, some of whom were musicians themselves, sang along.

The next morning we had to climb down, which seemed completely devoid of challenge. We took less than three hours to come down, sit at a tea shop and eat some snacks. And when we got up again, we felt like we were standing on our feet for the first time. That’s when we realized that climbing the hill down was actually tougher. A little sight-seeing and shopping pretty much summed up the remainder of the day.

Our trekking was done, and another evening ended. And you’re absolutely right to ask “What’s so life changing about that?” It was the last night that changed my perception of human bonding and emotions. So, we were all sitting for a last get-together in this hotel room we booked for our stay. No one had the energy to talk anymore. Some brave souls still took charge, made some drinks and started playing the guitar. The energy was recreated and people started participating. Something crossed my mind and I asked one of us to tell us ten things that we didn’t know about him. I was expecting people to boo the question and tell me that this was childish, or that we weren’t college kids anymore. But no one did, and with a little hesitation, he said those ten things about himself that nobody knew. And then everyone else came up with some untouched and unspoken truths about their lives. Behind those common man masks, I met a serious porn addict and his battle with his addiction, a girl whose ex-husband mentally tortured her to extort money from her family (dowry) and that she was still fighting a court-case against him, a girl who fell in love with a guy of another religion and then saw the dirty side of life and how those old and buried-under-the-ground Hindu-Muslim differences still have a hold on even the most educated parts of our Indian society, a guy who is fighting a battle with cancer since more than a year and not even his parents have a clue about this, a guy who cannot live his life the way he wants to as he’s got to take care of his father who is a psychiatric patient, a man who fought the entire society to marry a girl from another religion and some unseen shades of his fight, and a girl who probably had so much darkness to talk about that she chose to stay silent.

Going through a huge personal and professional crisis myself, I was about to drop out of the trip because I thought these people may never understand my situation as they have never seen the dirty sides of life. Somewhere I used to see myself above them. But as it turned out, they all became role models for me.  These 15 common people, whom you’ll always find rushing through the rat race of life, tearing the stream of traffic to reach their office on time, stretching themselves beyond human limits to keep their loved ones happy, they were all somewhere the main character of a significantly conspicuous story.

The night restored my faith in human bonding. I saw people opening up and breaking down, I saw a rivulet of tears on some strong cheeks, everyone’s eyes were moist and throats were heavy. I was in a room with some friends like I’ve never been before. That night never ended for me. I witnessed life. The next morning I felt a little more connected to everyone, the next morning I felt light, rejuvenated, rehabilitated and I rediscovered some of my lost values for life.


Here is a musical montage of an awesome weekend I spent with some awesome people.




Music Appreciation in India – A Rant (Guest Blog)


Sometimes, it’s easy to write an angry piece. You’re angry, but you’re in enough control to write coherently. Sometimes, though, you get so angry at something, and feel so powerless against it, that you become incoherent. You want to say too many things at the same time, and end up saying nothing (almost as if too many electrons decide to party in you head and end up repelling each other and giving you a headache). 
I’ve been trying to write about the state of music appreciation in the country for some time, but there has been too much anger and powerlessness in the past for me to be able to write a cogent piece on it. But, maybe it’s time to calm down just enough. 
Music functions on the foundation of a strange contradiction. Well, maybe not so much a contradiction as a dichotomy. It is, at once, both communal and personal. It touches you in a place that is your own and only your own, but you also need to share it with someone, in order to truly feel its power. Therefore, music must, by its very character, be something that you have the right to preferentially enjoy and share. You have the right to choose whatever music rings your bell.
And here’s my contention. There are a few dimensions that define music – tunes, lyrics, virtuosity, experimentation. You may not understand how someone derives entertainment from Carnatic music/heavy metal, but you can appreciate the virtuosity of the singer/instrumentalist. You may not understand how someone derives entertainment from strange sounds sampled electronically and played in a loop even, but you can appreciate the courage and the will to experiment with music. You can like classical music or not. You can like dislike ghazals and love Mozart, or the other way round. You can enjoy opera and absolutely hate old (1960s-80s) Hindi songs. Those are choices.
How, though, do you justify the music that, say, a Honey Singh or a Badshah makes? For all its connection to emotion, music is a science too. It needs dedication and careful deliberation to create. How are flat unmodulated tunes to misogynistic, drug-promoting lyrics good?
And then there are the languages. People in India just do not listen to music in languages they do not understand (or sometimes even do understand). It’s strange. There are English-speaking Indians who do not listen to English songs saying that they do not understand the lyrics. But they somehow all seem to magically understand ‘Tainu samjhawan’. Suddenly, everyone understands Punjabi. Don’t even get me started on the absolute regional gems that these people miss, purely because of their auditory myopia. Marathi, Tamil, Malayalam, Bengali, Assamese – the number of languages in which some truly beautiful songs are made is pretty much as large as the number of languages in our country. But, most of us end up listening to only Hindi and Punjabi-infused Hindi songs only. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been listening to a song from the new season of Pakistan’s acclaimed Coke Studio sessions incessantly. It’s a Punjabi song called Paar Chanaa De. It blew my mind the first time I heard it and I haven’t been able to stop since. If you haven’t heard it, please do. It’s 11 minutes you cannot possibly regret spending.
I’m still as powerless as I’ve always been about influencing the next person’s musical preferences. The best I can do is to direct them to great music. Whether they listen to it or not is their choice. I can only hope that people get more open, and use the immense information resources they have (yes, YouTube), to discover varied and beautiful music. For now, writing this piece has been cathartic.
The following is an article written by my mentor, my moral/professional/social adviser, and above all my best friend – Anupam Das. You can find him at
Featured Image credits:

The Blame Game

So three months back, one of the biggest schools of Gurgaon – Lotus Valley International School hires me as their Music Teacher, and then calls me 3 days before my joining to tell me that my employment has been indefinitely put on hold. According to the Principal of the school, if an employee can send a mail at the last moment to inform that he can’t join, why can’t the employer? Sounds fair enough! And then a week later I get myself an interview at probably the biggest school chain of NCR – Pathways International School for the post of Sound Engineer. There were three other candidates. One of them, probably the youngest among all of us, had studied Audio Engineering from SAE Singapore and has a studio of his own. The second guy graduated in the same field from SAE Mumbai, and has worked with some really big names in Bollywood (YRF and The Bhatts) for over six years. The third guy had an experience of ten years in music industry, and has worked for many live events of artists like Jagjit Singh for live recording and CD production. I was the fourth guy, who has just made a couple of jingles and songs for some local brands, TV commercials, and corporate companies, and has absolutely no professional education in the concerned area. Don’t look forward to a miracle: it’s not a Marvel movie. The Singapore guy got the job.

It was yesterday, after the interview, that some of my misconceptions faded away. I always thought I didn’t need a degree to prove my aptitude for Music. But apparently no employment, permanent or freelance, has a parameter to judge aptitude. And most of all, a two year course adds a lot of knowledge. I couldn’t even participate in the discussions the other candidates were having about a lot of new software, technology, compressors, etc. I hadn’t even heard the name of most of the plug-ins they were discussing. The interviewers had an expression of “What the fuck do you think is happening here, a kids’ theatre?” When I told my Mom about this, she said: “It’s not your fault that you graduated as an engineer not a musician. You’re 26 now, it’s time you focus on more important things like marriage, home and family. Soch lena kismet me nahi tha!” So luck is to be blamed for my fate, huh! No, this is not acceptable.

Now looking back at my life, I see a one year-old kid who cannot speak a word, but who stops crying the minute he hears the Doordrshan Samachar jingle. No amount of comforting can get him to sleep, except the sound of the tape recorder playing the Rudaali soundtrack. The kid grows up, poor in academics, with an allergy towards Maths, gets a small keyboard from his dad when he passes his high school with distinction (for the first time in his life). He then spends all day and all night playing and composing new tunes on his four octave Yamaha keyboard, in an era when internet was a luxury. Should I blame the parents who ignored the relationship that that young kid had with Music, or the kid who never realized what his soul truly wanted? His school only had classrooms and a volleyball court, no room for any other activity. And for the first time ever, when he participated in a singing competition (organised for the very first time) in his school, he was rejected in the audition because he sang the chorus only twice, while in the actual song, it’s repeated thrice. Should I blame the school for the exposure and development it offered to that kid, or the kid for not knowing what all he was missing out? Commerce was frowned upon, and Arts was looked at with disgust in the small world he lived in. Should I blame the system that never game him a choice, but instead gave him a rule: “Science for 60% and above, Commerce for 45-60 percent and Arts for below 45%”, or the kid for never putting a question mark against the rule? When he entered Intermediate, all his relatives, friends and neighbours started asking him: “Beta 12th hai, IIT kab de rahe ho?” Should I blame all those people for not asking: “Beta kya karna hai aage life me?” or the boy for not realizing that on his own? During college, when that boy actually got some exposure, he became a part of a band and started participating in battle of bands. Should I blame college politics for never giving him a chance to get on stage, or the boy, who should have prioritized learning music professionally over participating in a stupid competition? Towards the end of his college life, he made some songs that did earn him recognition inside college. For the first time, people witnessed his existence. But he ended up taking the government job he was offered during campus placements. Should I blame his job for not offering him a balance, or the boy who was stupid enough to believe he’d be happy doing a desk job from 9 to 5 and then music after? Should I blame God for not sending me to a Metro city for my bringing up so that I could have had the right exposure at the right time? Should I blame people for voting “Chaar botal vodka” the top song for months?

The blame game is the only game that has no end. All that went wrong can possibly be undone, or at least be tried to, in lesser time as compared to blaming and questioning people and events responsible for the wrong. The whole universe plays a role in deciding one man’s fate. Yes, things go wrong, and life takes unwanted turns. But life is not a corporate meeting where all you have to lay focus on is to save yourself from any blame. And so giving up is not an option. Kismet is the series of challenges given to you in your life, which may be different for different people, but their result – Life, as we call it, is always a reflection of our choices, not chances.


Featured image credit:


Music Period

Last week, I took music classes at a school in Pitampura in New Delhi, from class 1st to 10th. On my first day there, I thought I’d begin by getting a lay of the land. So I asked the students about their favourite song and musician. Here’re the results of my informal survey:

Favourite Songs: Chhittiyaan kalaiyaan, Baby Doll, Chaar Botal Vodka, and worst of all, Dheere Dheere Se – Honey Singh Version; Some older students mentioned songs from Aashiqui 2 as well

Favourite Musicians: Honey Singh, and Arijit Singh (some sexism there?)

And the most shameful of all, when I asked them what their favourite musical instrument was, most said “Casio”, the instrument that they owned or knew how to play.

This was the first time that one of the big schools in the NCR was offering me a job as a music teacher. They asked me to give a week’s classes as a demo, unpaid, which could serve as a substitute for something that a music degree stands for. I couldn’t be happier. I agreed immediately. During my first three days, I learned that there’ve been 7 music teachers for the school, but none of them stayed there for more than a week. As a rowdy student from class 10th said, “Yaha music teachers sirf apna trial dene ate hain sir!”  I refused to give any more free classes after three days, and haven’t heard from the school since then.

Sometimes when any character from a Hollywood movie or series plays any musical instrument in a scene, I notice that they’re playing mostly the right notes, or chords. They hit the right notes while singing, and can even harmonize on different notes. I can’t help but wonder if they actually learn the instrument, or singing, just to shoot that one scene. That’s not the case though. Music is respectfully treated as a part of their primary education, and they mostly pick up at-least one instrument to learn. Here, in almost all schools, Music is considered as an activity subject and Music period, for half of the times, is taken as a substitute by Maths and Science teachers, to make them more competent in the ‘real’ world. And 9th class onwards, students in most of the schools aren’t allowed to attend activity periods due to academics pressure. There are a lot of education start-ups in Delhi NCR, and almost all of them are making some brilliant content for Maths and Science. Even I have worked for one, where we used to target all big schools and sell our content. We’d make online tests for students of classes 1st to 12th, and then with our tools we could analyze their performance to an amazingly microscopic level, and once a week we’d call their parents and tell them: “Your child is not able to perform in quadratic equations, if the question is based on solving by factorization.” Parents, not knowing shit about things, would get scared and ask for more content, or a video session on Skype, and that’s how we’d make our business. Our education system is so fucked up that there is no point in talking about matching students with their respective areas of talent/interest. But we’re not even able to give them a balanced learning. As the veteran actor Paresh Rawal sums it up in the movie ‘Oh My God’, “People are just scared of God. That’s why religion has become a business in our country.” Education is also big business in India, and for a major part, that is because people are just scared of Maths and Science. They just are.

Ilaiaraja, a great music director from Southern India once said: “If we want to kill the religious differences in the country, add more and more Music to our students’ curriculum.” It’s been two years now that I left my secure (and boring) job and started trying to make it as an independent music composer and producer. During these years, I’ve come across a lot of clues as to how pursuing arts is a big problem. I know they can be fixed, I want to fix them. I want to bring a revolution. I want to start a company that arranges one to one sessions with all school students of all age groups, making them aware of the rich musical heritage that we have, about how they should at least learn one musical instrument in their primary education, about various careers that people can have in music, about how big musicians started off by playing for a handful of people in bars, and coffee houses, how the biggest music director in India started by making radio jingles for local telecom and dairy companies. I want children in our country to know what music is about, so that in our next generation, an absolute ass who puts the sound of a clap and a kick in a loop, and raps with some absurdly stupid lyrics, who reuses the melodies of 1990’s Bollywood, and puts the “Auto-tune plug-in” to his voice layer, doesn’t become the best music composer of this country. Our people should know what’s actually going on in the song that they say is their favourite. Because not everything that sounds catchy to an ear is good music. Just like sometimes petroleum, or burning crackers smell good, but they’re definitely harmful for the throat.

Making good music is one thing, and making it reach to the masses is another, if only I could do both. If only I was more than just an artist, if only I had the skills of an entrepreneur to figure out the way to reach out to people and do everything I wrote.

Music to Enroll, With Money on Bowl

Steer clear of the stupid name games, future predictions, and the ‘10 reasons for every goddamn thing on Earth’ articles, Facebook can be a wonderful thing sometimes. It can connect you to people you knew some ten years ago, whom you never thought you’d talk to again, ever. Through Facebook, you can even know what’s going on in their lives, even though they are usually exaggerated depictions of their happy times.

A few days ago, I got a prompt from Facebook asking me to like the official page for “Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music”. Many of my friends and colleagues had already liked it, and the university is the best place to learn music according to most of my fellow musicians. So I hit that famous like button, and then visited the page. I visited their website to learn more about them. They had a number of courses on offer, right from a diploma in a musical instrument to a degree in music production. And then, I clicked on their fee-structure page. The tuition fee, the hostel fee, the food fee, and the maintenance fee together summed up to Rs 16.4 lacs per annum. Add all the other expenses that one might have to bear while staying in the exterior of Chennai for two years and that amount goes up to something an IIM might ask you to pay for an MBA. Related searches on Facebook showed the official page for KM Music Conservatory, the university run by the Music Maestro A R Rahman himself. The tuition fees alone, for the university was Rs 5 lacs per annum. Needless to say, I didn’t read any further.

I also checked out a few good music schools in Delhi and even went to meet the teachers to inquire about their courses face-to-face. What I gathered left me depressed. They charge not less than 3000 rupees a month for forty-minute once-a-week classes. Most of the people who go to these classes are either rich kids or unemployed women who have way too much time and money to burn. In short, the clientele of these music classes are people who have are not pressed for money.

I am a full-time musician. I am not looking for a place to pursue a hobby, or to keep myself busy. There is a big reason for when I look for a place to learn music professionally, and I don’t have unlimited time at my disposal. As it turned out, there was no place convenient for me to learn music. A lot of fellow artistes I know have gotten frustrated and are turning towards full-time jobs in other industries in order to achieve financial independence. And yet, these music schools are growing, both in size and in number. The queues of prospective students waiting to enroll in these schools keep growing. I wonder how they say we’re a poor nation.

I wish there were an exam called AIMAE (All India Music Aptitude Examination), based on the results of which these music universities would offer you various courses at normal middle-class fees. And when you were in your final year, big people in the industry like A R Rahman, Amit Trivedi, Vishal-Shekhar, etc would hire you as assistant producers, or sound engineers, or instrumentalists, or for any other special role they may have, at a monthly salary starting of, say, 25-30K. And then we’d go on to make our own way, as we’d then be struggling only for success, not for financial independence.


Featured image Credits:



The Murder

Something’s been on my mind for a while. I’ve got to say it – for catharsis.  I’ve committed a crime: a serious one. I’ve killed a child. But I did it only because I loved him and couldn’t see him suffer in this brutal world. Now that he is gone, I miss him. The guilt of killing him is keeping me up all night now and I can’t get over the guilt. He was a child, and he had a lot of qualities that made him special in this world. He was daring, but one day, he dared climb a cliff. He fell down and broke his arm. He had to wear a plaster for over two months. His courage (almost stupid courage) caused him a lot of pain. I wanted him to stop taking life casually, but he was reluctant. He was fresh, but the moment he shared his thoughts about caste and religion with society, it disowned him. Many nights, he cried himself to sleep. I wanted him to stop tormenting himself and to accept not just the differences people had but also the differences people had in the way they thought about those differences. He was innocent, but once when he got caught for helping his friend cheat in an examination, he was failed and detained in the same class. His classmates mocked at him and called him a ‘failure’, and his parents were ashamed of him. I wanted him to stop helping others, but he was reluctant to give up on the trust he had in people and in humanity.  He was loving, but when he fell in love with the new girl in his class, she broke his heart and said she wanted to be ‘just friends’. He gave up all he had to keep his new friend happy, and did all he could to win her heart. A year later the girl threw him out of her life because her boyfriend didn’t like him. He was torn. I wanted him to be selfish, but he was reluctant to change. He was selfless, but when he used to call his old friends, they were always busy and never called back. He was depressed. I wanted him to have some self-respect, but he was reluctant to give up on his old friends. He was caring, but when he shared his lunch-box with a sweeper’s son, he was beaten up badly by his dad. He was disheartened. I wanted him to stop caring, but he wouldn’t – couldn’t – stop. The world had made that child miserable and yet he wouldn’t give up. I was unable to take any more pain. I didn’t want to be bullied anymore. I didn’t want to be hurt anymore. I so wanted that child to give up, to grow up. Yes I killed him because he was hurting me. And I only did it so that nobody in the world would have the right or the privilege to make me cry, to make me weak. And I finally am a strong, grown up man.

The child is long gone now, and unlike his, my life has a lot of principles and rules. Now nobody has the privilege to break my heart because I’ve stopped falling in love. Nobody can cause me pain because I’ve stopped caring, nobody can bully me because I’ve stopped helping, and nobody can break me because I’ve stopped waiting. I murdered him to seek peace. May be he didn’t need to die. May be I could have trusted him. May be I chose the wrong side, because now that I finally am a grown-up, I realize that may be even though I am the one living now, he was the one really alive.

Featured Image credits:

The Change

I remember meeting this guy when I moved in to Delhi. He had also left his job at a big company to pursue music, just like I had.

Buddy, you have talent, and I have no advice to give to you whatsoever but this: there’ll be times when you won’t have work. Make sure you handle yourself well then.”

His statement didn’t seem like much of a challenge. But now when this is one of those times for me, I do realize what he meant. It’s hard to keep up your spirits in such times. You start feeling a lot of negativity and everything around you seems chaotic. While all that a struggling artist needs today is ‘one big shot’, he already has a slew of rejections lined up before he gets one. And then you have this negativity.

Well, when you have a lot of free time, your mind wanders. You go through a lot of slow realizations. These last few weeks, I’ve come to an understanding of how empty and unhappy people are from inside. There’s this cliché that sums it up perfectly: everyone’s face has a big smile, so that their teeth can zip up their empty hearts.

There’s a question that Greg Roberts asks in Shantaram.

“You have happiness right in front of you, and you know that it might leave you in pain later. Would you still pursue it?”

A lot of us would not. That is because we are so scared of pain, that we’d reject all the happiness in the world just to avoid feeling pain.

A week back, I had an appointment with a doctor. I was in the waiting room and sitting next to a lady with a two-year old kid sitting on her lap. There was a cute baby girl, around 3 years old, slowly walking towards the kid with a candy in hand. She had a smile on her face. I sensed she wanted to meet the kid and offer him the candy. When the kid saw her, his face also brightened up. It was a very sweet scene. Both the kids wanted to meet and exchange sweets. The smiles on their innocent faces compelled me to keep watching them with a lot of expectation.

I so wanted them to meet.

The scene was interrupted by a voice.

“Come here baby, come to Ma! Look, Daddy’s phone’s got a new ringtone. Come here and I’ll give you the phone.”

And here, the lady sitting beside me started talking to her 2-year old kid.

“No! Bad manners! You have your own chocolates. There is nothing that Mommy can’t get you. We don’t take things from strangers!”

We, the so-called experienced and independent grown-ups, are responsible for putting all sorts of crap into their heads. You give your kid a smartphone because you can’t put in the effort of handling her, and when your kid becomes a gizmo-addict, you blame technology and ‘the generation’.

People never want to be judged for their own actions, but they always judge others for theirs. A lot of people always tell me that I don’t look like a musician, because they have trouble digesting the fact that a tall guy with a fat tummy, wearing round glasses can also be a musician. In our country, people will believe a piece of paper more than what they hear or what they see. They would much rather read certificates that say I’m a musician than actually hear me play. This, despite knowing that I could fake certificates quite easily, but I couldn’t fake an actual demonstrable skill.  And then they say that we’re following these rules since years.

The human mind craves for change, and yet paradoxically, CHANGE is the one thing it dreads. You’d rather spend all your life cursing the monotony, than take a step and see what’s on the other side of your fear. If you want a change for the better, it’s only you that has to initiate it. Remember that if the graph of your heart is a straight line, it means you’re dead.

You say that you’ve fought the entire world yourself and that you’ve experienced everything about truths and realities of life and compromises. And then you say your life could have been better. Let me tell you truth was the point where you stopped believing, reality was the line where you gave up, and compromise was a sheet you always used to cover your cowardliness with.

Yes, there is pain in this world; there are some wishes unfulfilled, some dreams unpursued, and some compromises unwanted. But ultimately, your life is a reflection of your own choices, and so it cannot be bad, right? If it’s not under your control, or if you don’t have the guts to fill all the voids in your life, you might as well leave it up to fate and move on to make your present count. And most importantly, have the courage to change, at-least your own life, when you know that you’re desperate for it.

Janani – The Story


Every big star or every successful person always has their struggle stories. And it’s not just people; any change, any development or creativity, always has a story associated with it. Being a music composer, I have always realized that the effort I put in composing a song is just not all. It takes a lot more – to be able to complete the final output in the form of an easily-sharable, all-compatible MP3 file. Apart from the effort to compose a song, a lot of hurdles come along in the process. I remember this ad jingle that I had to compose. When I was about to start, my microphone stopped working. I went to Gurgaon to collect one from a friend. When this was fixed, there was a major fault in some cables and power went off. I then took all my instruments and set-up to my friends place to record. When this was fixed, my recording software stopped working. And it took me two hours to fix that as well. And when this was done, I found that the new microphone isn’t compatible with Windows 8. My friend helped me by giving me her laptop. I installed the software and then started again.

I was finally able to complete it, and it was then rejected by the concerned agency. According to some people, supposedly God didn’t want me to make that jingle. But signs are how you perceive them. It is always a choice to give up with something, or go through with it.

Janani” is the one track that has the power to turn the tables. A person from the music industry said, “Dude, it’s a million dollar song!” when he heard it. And like I said, this track also has an interesting story. The theme and the music clicked first, so the first challenge was to find the right lyrics. It took me a month to write the first stanza. One fine day, out of the blue, my roommate told me that he writes poetry and showed me some of his work. I liked them, and so the lyrics were no more the hurdle. Another few weeks, and the composition was ready.

The instrumental track was not a hectic task, but the voice was. I sent a mobile recording of the track and asked almost twenty-five people to send their voice samples for this song. And none of them could fit in. Those were the days that I had just started jamming with Chaar Hazaari. And so I wasn’t comfortable asking Yatin to do the vocals, as this track was my individual work that I didn’t intent to do with the band. When I did ask him, he seemed to like the track and immediately agreed. And so we proceeded to complete the track.

Now the track was completed about a year ago. After completing it, I approached the biggest theatre group of South Delhi to work for the video; I approached a guy who makes documentaries for Doordarshan; basically a lot of big people. Surprisingly though, everyone seemed to liked the track and agreed to work without any payment. However, every time we started, something got in our way. We stopped and began afresh three times. Nothing worked out. Finally, I met this guy who isn’t really a big name in the industry, but who has far more passion for his art than any of those professionals I had seen and talked to. We agreed on a barter system. I’d do the background scoring for his upcoming movie and he’d make the video for my tracks. And so we started shooting again, for the fourth time. Yesterday I saw the video, and I had goose bumps. The guy’s done a brilliant job. There are shots in a railway station, in running trains, in villages and cities, in roads and traffic, and a lot more. Every line of the song has been done justice. For a ten-second sequence of mine in the video, he shot for almost twenty hours, without compromising on anything in any scene, giving hundreds of takes for every scene.

The video is now ready, and I just can’t wait to share it. It has been a labour of love. The song deserved it. It’s a tribute to motherhood, after all. In the end, I feel proud in admitting that my efforts have paid off. I don’t know what response it is going to get, but when I watched the video, I already concluded that this was the best we could have done together. And so, I am happy, irrespective of the results.

Falling Down

If you’ve played ‘Snakes and Ladders’ (and I’m sure you have), there must have been times when the last snake (at 96 or 99) would bite you and you’d fall down all the way to the very beginning from where you had started playing. And then you’d start all over again, and keep playing unless the game ended. Well, life is pretty much the same. Snakes will keep biting you and you will keep falling down. But in the end, you’ll keep climbing until you reach that 100 or the game ends. The worst part of the game is, of course, when you fall from 99 to 1. It makes you want to tear the game-board into fucking halves and burn them. Something like this happened with me today. Continue reading Falling Down