Two albums and a few unreleased songs are what they are touring south India with – Anand Bhaskar and his team of four musicians, or the Anand Bhaskar Collective. What is interesting is that nearly all of Anand’s songs are in Hindi, but the audiences in the south, speaking different languages, have been singing it along with the Mumbai band, surprising the musicians.
“We have played in Hyderabad before but those were sporadic concerts. We had a show this February and after that we kept getting requests to come and play there again. We were blown away by the reaction. They were singing back to us – our songs, our lyrics!” Anand says, on a call.
The tour began on June 8 in Hyderabad and will go on till the 28th, a week after World Music Day.
“There is no particular reason for holding the tour now. Divya Vishy, who did an interview with us for her podcast Discover Desi, asked us to tour more often outside Mumbai. We said we need someone to help us plan a tour, to connect us to people. And she helped us out. In a week’s time, she called back with dates and possibilities! We have also not done a tour of south India after our new guitar player joined the team. There have been a couple of changes in the line-up in five years,” Anand says.
The line-up includes Neel on bass, Shishir Tao on percussion, Hrishi Giridhar on the guitar and Anand on vocals. They have a violinist too – Shravan Sridhar. And that works because Anand’s music is a mix of rock and Carnatic. He wouldn’t call it fusion – he calls it a ‘heavy alternative rock act in Hindi’. It is a strange mix. Heavy rock, Carnatic, Hindi.
“I trained in Carnatic music for 20 years and grew up on a lot of Western music – from pop to rock to metal to jazz, hip hop and electronic music. The first songs I wrote were in English. But on the day of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, when I was held up in office till 2 am and rode home in a cab, I sat thinking about the disruption in people’s life, using the name of God to kill without remorse. Imagine the amount of brainwashing that would have happened – they are not afraid of the consequences, they know they’d die. And so many kids died in that spray of bullets. When I reached home that night and opened the door, this song in Hindi came to me, and I saw my guitar there. The song and the lyrics got made in 15 minutes. It’s called ‘Hey Ram’,” Anand says.
‘Hey Ram’ is part of the band’s first album, Samsara. It came the same year the band was formed – 2014. Three years later, the second album – Excuse Me – came out. And now they are planning an EP (Extended Play record, containing 3 or 4 songs). “We’d like to release a few singles before that,” Anand says.
In the first album is also a song Amma Appa – the south Indian terms for mother and father. “Yes, because my parents are from Kerala. My mother is from Kochi and my dad, a Malayali who grew up in Chennai,” Anand says.
He has also recently sung for a Malayalam film for the first time – a song called ‘Kedathe’ from Vallikudilile Vellakkaran, composed by Deepak Dev. This is apart from the many ads in Malayalam Anand has sung for. The band’s tour schedule, however, does not have Kerala on the list – yet. They are in talks, so they might still come.
June 20 – Bay 146, Chennai
June 21 – Bflat Indiranagar, Bengaluru
June 28 – The Finch, Mumbai