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Jamming with the dewarists

Last year’s immensely
popular part-music documentary-part travelogue, The Dewarists: An Initiative By Dewar’s, is back. The show, which won a Bronze Cannes Lion for ‘Best Non-Fiction Program, Series or Film’, continues to be a platform for collaborations between interesting groups of musicians and will premiere on October 28 on Star World.

Musicians who will feature on the show include composer duo Salim-Sulaiman, celebrated Pakistani vocalist Shafqat Amanat Ali, London-based musician Fink, and Anoushka Shankar.


Thermal and a Quarter have collaborated with musicians Adil and Vasundhara and Ashwin Srinivisan. Pic Courtesy/ Kunal Kakodkar   

‘Fusion, not confusion’
Thermal and a Quarter (TAAQ), a band that refers to their genre as Bangalore Rock has collaborated with New Delhi-based experimental jazz duo Adil and Vasundhara and flautist Ashwin Srinivisan for the show. The group has created an “oddball pop song”, as TAAQ’s Bruce Lee Mani puts it.

“We were all an open-minded lot. We have managed to create a song that fairly represents all our genres. Its fusion, not confusion,” laughs Mani. By the end of the shoot, everyone on the crew (including the director) had the song stuck in their heads. “It’s got a great chorus,” says Mani.

“The brainstorming sessions began a month ago, but we couldn’t attend those because we had been busy with the launch of our album. Luckily, when the entire group met in Bangalore to shoot last week, they were nice enough to say ‘Let’s start from scratch’.”

Welcome to Chennai
While each one-hour episode traces the composition of the collaborative songs, it also attempts to capture facets of Indian culture and its cities.

La Pongal’s Darbuka Siva was thrilled that his episode was being shot in Chennai. “It was wonderful for me to show them around the city,” says Siva. “Even though I’ve lived here all my life, most of our gigs have been outside Chennai,” he adds.

La Pongal, a platform to enable collaborations between folk musicians, was represented by Siva (founder of La Pongal) and Thanjavur folk singer Anthony Dasan. The duo added a Tamilian folk touch to Shaa’ir + Func’s electro-rock-funk music.

“I have shared the stage with Shaa’ir + Func’s Monica Dogra and Randolph several times, so we knew each other. But collaborating with them on the show was amazing. We bring a completely new dimension to the show, I think because it is the first time that Tamil folk is being clubbed with electronica,” says Siva.

“Our song is going to be a perfect party number,” he continues, “After all, it is groove and melody that makes an addictive song — while electronica provides the groove, our folk music adds the perfect melody.”

Manish Seth, director sales and marketing, Bacardi India, says they consciously pair artists who come from different styles. “Sometimes it’s a challenge for them, but we always get a great song out of each collaboration,” he adds.

With a new director, Ayesha Sood, on board, one thing’s certain — audiences can definitely expect “a new edge to the show,” as host Monica Dogra puts it.  

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