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'I was innocent'

Says Euphoria frontman Palash Sen ahead of the launch of their new album Item. In an exclusive interview with MiD DAY he talks about his to-be-released biography, the album and the past years

The last most of us can place of the Indian Hindi rock band Euphoria is easily their most loved track Maeri from the 2000 released album Phir Dhoom.
 
We did hear of another release mid-decade but the stir hardly made its way to our ears, let alone hearts. It was called Mehfuz.

(From Left to Right) Rakesh Bhardwaj, Amborish Saikia, Prashant Trivedi, Palash Sen, Vinayak Gupta, Debajyoti Bhaduri and Ashwani Verma ) Pic/Mohit Khanna


A good five years and a line-up change later the band is set to release its new big-scale album Item on October 10.

Coupled with the launch of this nine-track album will be the release of a biography, Euphoria: The Story of Palash Sen by Ashish Kate, a painter  and poet, who replaced paint with boot polish.
 
The book we are told is a collection of conversations with the musician over a period of three years.
 
"I found it embarrassing when three years ago someone wanted to write a book on me," says Palash Sen, Euphoria frontman in a telephonic interview.
 
"I am too young. I would consider writing an autobiography when I am over 85," adds the singer in his mid forties.

The new album with a title like Item is unlike Euphoria's works in the past, Sen tells us and it comes with a fresher perspective and sound.
 
"The album is a navras of modern day India", says Palash Sen. "What we are trying to say that semi-clad women dancing in a film aren't the real items, everyday people are," he adds.

What's in store?
The album will feature nine disconnected tracks, each picking up a prevalent issue- religion, break-ups, longing, friendship, politics, terrorism, vulgarity of money, love and item numbers in films.
 
"It is the first album where I am writing about issues. I am in the age group now. How long can you keep writing on the theme of love? I'd like to explore a new zone now," says Sen.
 
Three songs from the album titled Item, C U Later and Kabootar were premiered last month as part of the band's Item World tour.
 
One of them Item has been turned into a video that will be released with the album.
 
The video directed by Bikram Mishra will feature Palash Sen and Mukti Mohan. "The song is dedicated to everyday women who forget their passion.


Mukti Mohan and Palash Sen in a still from
the video of Item Pic/Abel Raj


The everyday woman is the real Item," says Sen. "The video features a couple where the woman has forgotten her passion after marriage, of dancing.
 
The husband encourages her to return to where her passion lies," Sen says giving a sneak peek into the upcoming video.

Break time
When it is talk about the band that quite brought about a new generation of music through the 90s, the gap does seem odd and one wonders what kept them away from the recording studios. "Everything has its own time.
 
I wouldn't take out an album until I have something new to say. Also, things begin sounding the same when there is a lack of gap between two albums," explains Sen.

Does the long gap work as a disadvantage and reduces recall value we wonder? Sen is quick to counter by saying, "I don't look at it as a disadvantage. Besides, I believe in destiny, the time is not important."

Talking about change
A five year gap does more things than arouse suspicion. While the band made its way out of the limelight, trouble broke out and two members of the original band made their way out.

They were soon replaced by two youngsters Amborish Saikia and Vinayak Gupta, not consciously though we were told.

"We happened to find two talented musicians in their 20s who would gel with us that was the criteria.

Even though it wasn't a conscious choice they bring in a lot of fresh sound to the band altogether. Their influences are very different," says Sen.

The sound of the band at large he informs us hasn't changed. Not just that, the doctor-turned singer seems confident about the performance of the album.
 
"Good music will work at any time. Nothing changes in my sound; it is something I have found after much work.
 
It is like Rahman who has made his sound, why would he change it for anyone? The popularity depends on the song, not the sound. Indians are still very tuned into melody," says Sen. 

Inspirations and confessions

"All the film music inspired me", Sen says when the talk of inspirations comes up. "It was exactly the sort of thing I did not want to do," he adds before you jump to any conclusions.
 
The age of good world music stopped in the 80s according to him.

And about the music that has surrounded him in his not-so-productive years he has just one thing to say. "There is too much film music. I would not have heard anything," says Sen.

Steering the conversation away from the sound alone, he tells us, there are other things that have seen the change through this time.
 
"I am in my 40s and I am looking at things very differently. Earlier I would be worried about what people thought.
 
I am more chilled out now. The last year has changed me," says Sen. "I realized it was not easy to be a public figure. I was innocent."

Item, Universal Music, Rs 150
Euphoria: The Story of Palash Sen by HarperCollins, Rs 350

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