As a regular Joe from Hyderabad, I was familiar with Indian Ocean as the water
body that would've given me 1 mark needed to clear the geography quiz in my 4th
standard. A decade later, Indian Ocean comes back. When I mentioned to a friend
in Delhi that some 'Indian Asian' or 'Indian Ocean' was coming to town, he screamed,
letting out a series of powerful grunts and snorts, like his throat was impersonation
Mt. Cotopaxy. Bet he was foaming at the mouth, too.
If Indian Ocean can have such an affect on an otherwise normal bloke, these guys
had to be extra juicy. So I geared up to imbibe the vibes of this cult band, and
appeared without my earplugs at Durgam Cheruvu.
Durgam Cheruvu was at its best behaviour then. The rock garden, festooned with
subtly lit-up towering boulders and uneven terrains, cradled the strong crowd
(about 800) affectionately. It rocked pleasantly as the slight night breeze caressed
them, and the lake in the chasm far below radiated calmly in the moonlight. This
was the reason that men wrote poetry. To call the setting romantic would be a
crime. No romance in the world could be this beautiful.
Just the ambience for the evening would've sent home everyone elated. But as the
souls gathered there nuzzled into their soul mates, the show began. Magic revisited
the scene in the form of four very talented gentlemen.
As they took the stage, they would've seen people sitting in a huge semicircle
that sometimes went over the rock tops, and sometimes under them. As the band
later declared, this was the best venue that they ever played at.
The bass player and vocalist, Rahul Ram, did most of the intros for the songs.
As the songs began, my first reaction was Euphoria. Like the immensely popular
band Euphoria, Indian Ocean also makes tunes with an overwhelming feeling of rural
India. Their lyrics (unlike Euphoria) are totally in the native languages, and
their music, very Sufi. So basically, for a first timer, Indian Ocean seemed like
a cross between Euphoria and the Sufi band Junoon.
Tabla is the main rhythm for their music, and the drums more or less tag along.
With a strong bass sound in all of them, the acoustic guitar sounding like a sitar
forms the true life of their music. The vocals are the charismatic combination
of extended notes and peppy Indian yodels.
Tum Tho Manana was the song that I really liked. And by the singing the
crowd was doing, it seemed like a huge hit of this band. Then came songs like
Village Damsel and Bhor, very typical Indian Ocean. The vocalist
pours his voice into the songs' misery, and when the lyrics end, the guitar wails
in full passion.
The band proved their maturity and hold on music when they started jamming with
the crowd as the crowd was screaming slogans in their praise. The little interactive
session was called Kaisa Laga? It was followed by the proper 'jugalbandhi'
jamming sessions between the band guys, the best being between the guitarist,
Sushmit Sen and the drummer, on the Tarang, Amit Kilam.
The crowd went berserk when the band played their ultra popular songs like Hillelle
Jagjor Duniya, Wah Re Wah and Kandisa. But the song that I liked
the best of the evening was an instrumental number called Torrent. Starting
with a haunting guitar sound, this song showed some complex structures with folk
instruments, and some classic interludes with Tabla. The band seems to revolve
around Ashim Chakravarthy, with the best voice and hands in the band, on the Tabla.
So when the band declared their last song of the night, I was surprised that I
was among the ones bemoaning with disappointment. And as the cliché' goes, all
good things come to an end and so did the show. So will this review too. Though
Indian Ocean haven't really made me sell my kidneys to buy all their albums, I
know I'll be glad to attend their shows again and again.