Chennai band Motta Maadi Music goes from jamming on terraces to international stage
It all started on the terrace, where a group of friends gathered to sing, holding steaming cups of filter coffee and a guitar. Today, they are a band of nine musicians, who are all set to take their ‘terrace music’ to an international stage.
Meet the band, Motta Maadi Music (translates to ‘music on the terrace’), one of the leading bands in Chennai. After completing their concert tour in Bengaluru, Mumbai and Coimbatore, the band is going to perform in Singapore, Malaysia and Dubai this year.
What can the audience expect? Anything from an Ilaiyaraaja song to an AR Rahman composition. What’s interesting is that their concerts are more like jamming sessions, where anybody from the audience can sing along.
When terrace becomes stage
It was Badhri Seshadhri who first proposed the idea of a ‘terrace singing group’. MMM started as a five-member band, with Badhri taking the lead. “It was the love for music by Ilaiyaraaja sir and AR Rahman sir that brought us together,” Badhri tells TNM. He is the lead singer of MMM, which gradually expanded into a nine-member band.
The jamming sessions initially took place with a few close friends on the terrace of his house in Nanganallur.
“Once, more than 1,200 members turned up and we had to use our neighbour’s rooftop for that,” Badhri recalls.
Since 2018, MMM has conducted more than 20 such rooftop events.
Badhri’s terrace is decorated with dim fairy lights to create an aesthetic atmosphere for the audience. There are no charges for the people who turn up for the terrace shows.
MMM’s sessions have always been audience-centric, says Badhri. “Audiences suggest some of their favourite songs in different languages and we end up playing those unrehearsed compositions, in addition to some of our compositions. It makes our show even more dynamic” he adds.
According to Badhri, even children with autism and those with visual impairment come to listen and sing along with them. “To see the hundreds of smiles and to sing for them is the best thing we can do in our lives,” says Badhri.
The band also organises quirky themes based on Tamil cinema, such as ‘Rajini night’, ‘Rahman night’ and ‘MSV night’. Songs of famous actors and composers are performed at these theme-based nights.
In fact, MMM hit the spotlight when actor Kamal Hassan responded to their video of ‘Kamal Night’ on Twitter.
Since MMM caters to audiences from the age of 6 to 80, they sometimes conduct ‘Bring your parents night’, where the music lovers have to turn up only with their parents. “One such event was the tribute night for MSV (MS Viswanathan), where a huge number of families came together and danced to the tunes of the legend. It was an emotional moment for many,” he recalls.
In 2019, comedian SA Aravind came to their show as an invitee and this eventually opened several doors of opportunities for the group.
Motta Maadi to Maaditorium
As the band started getting more audiences, MMM shifted their shows from the terrace to auditoriums, which Badhri likes to call ‘Maaditoriums’.
“We didn’t want our audience to be just spectators. We wanted them to be as vibrant as they are at Motta Maadi. So to bring that vibe even in auditoriums, we appoint volunteers to go among the crowd and prompt them to sing. And it worked,” Badhri says.
Marking the band’s second-year anniversary, MMM released a documentary last week about their musical journey. They attribute their success to the support from their families and neighbouring communities. “Everyone loves some kind of music. That made it easy to conduct events on terraces and other open spaces,” adds Badhri.
The terrace team is also planning to create a YouTube-based platform for independent musicians.
But, irrespective of the number of concerts across India and the globe and other ambitious projects, MMM is sure about one thing — they will organise at least three concerts a year on rooftops, as “that is our happy place”.