Genius pianist Karan Joseph jumps to death from 12th floor of Mumbai highrise

Sep 10, 2017, 08:15 IST | Aastha Atray Banan and Asif Rizvi

Genius pianist, Madfingers aka Karan Joseph, shocks city's indie musicians with leap off 12th floor; controversy gathers around his media entrepreneur and publisher friend

Karan Joseph
Karan Joseph

Considered one of the most promising musicians on the indie circuit, keyboardist Karan Joseph, 29, jumped off a Bandra high-rise on Saturday morning. Joseph, known in the industry as Madfingers, allegedly committed suicide from a 12th floor flat in Bandra Bandstand's Concorde Apartments. According to the police, Joseph may have been battling depression, but they are probing other angles, including a drug overdose.

The flat at Concorde belonged to Rishi Shah alias Arun, who Joseph had met in Bangalore a few months ago. They quickly turned friends and Shah invited Joseph over to Mumbai.

Karan Joseph. Courtesy/Facebook
Karan Joseph. Courtesy/Facebook

The musician arrived in the city a month ago and was living with Shah since. According to officials from Bandra police station, Joseph was finding it difficult to adjust to life here, and was particularly upset about a specific something, which they are investigating.

Joseph, Shah and a female friend had spent Friday night at a friend's party and returned home Saturday morning. According to the police, who have filed an Accidental Death Report in the case, the three were watching television at Shah's home when suddenly Joseph got up, walked towards the window and jumped out. Shah and the friend say they had no inkling of what Joseph was about to do.

Concorde Apartments in Bandra West
Concorde Apartments in Bandra West

He was rushed to the nearby Bhabha Hospital where the doctors pronounced him dead. According to senior police inspector Pandit Thackeray, "We received a call at 8.30 am about a person having committed suicide. We took him to Bhabha Hospital. We have recorded the statement of friends and have informed his parents."

A graduate from premier music and performing arts conservatory, Berklee College of Music, Joseph was known for his command over the piano. He was a regular on the Mumbai indie music circuit and had played with top names including Joe Alvares, Randolph Correia, Gino Banks and Vishal Dadlani of Pentagram. Friends and musicians are coming to terms with the news.

Reviews on Rave World's FB page
Reviews on Rave World's FB page

A young musician from Bandra, who had frequently played with Joseph, said on condition of anonymity that some of his friends were concerned about his proximity to Shah. They didn't think he was a good influence. He alleges that Shah was supplying drugs to Joseph, who was taken in by the opulent life Shah led. "Everything was going good for him, except this character [Shah] who he had made friends with. Shah turned him against his friends," he says.

Indian-American media entrepreneur, Shah is CEO and publisher of Crossbones Media, which publishes RAVE, a magazine that focuses on homegrown music. It was launched in 2002 with Teejay Sidhu, Canadian actor-veejay, as its editor-in-chief. A grand ceremony was held this March to celebrate it completing 15 years, with attendance by Kunal Ganjawala and a performance by Grammy Award winner V. Selvaganesh.

Rishi Shah, whose home Karan Joseph allegedly jumped from
Rishi Shah, whose home Karan Joseph allegedly jumped from

A week ago, Shah went live with Joseph on Rave World's Facebook page. In the video that's up on YouTube, Shah says in a marked American accent that he was surprised that when he was looking high and low for a pianist, everyone he asked mentioned no one but Joseph. He then introduces the pianist, who comes across as a shy young man but displays astounding piano skills in the clip.

The city's indie circuit wasn't too pleased with Shah since he used social media to run them down. On September 5, Shah, in a post called had lead singer of Colour Compound, Rohan Mazumdar, d****e. The post was later pulled down. A revised post with less offensive language was put up on Friday. Reviews on the page, some as recent as Saturday, are largely complaints against Rave World and its founder.

Rishi Shah. Courtesy/Facebook
Rishi Shah. Courtesy/Facebook

Tejas Menon said, "Pathetic". Keith Athaide-Dsilva wrote: Pity that Facebook does not have a zero star rating... Editorial reviews about artists/music needs to be objective and constructive. Getting personal and hitting below the belt is in really bad taste. The recent vitriolic reviews that this magazine has endorsed, defeats the purpose of helping to cultivate new talent. Arman Tejani wrote: Pointless opinions. Don't need this kind of shit in the music industry.

Sidhu's actor husband Karanvir Bohra said she was in Mexico and unavailable for comment. "She has nothing to do with him or his magazine. She was editor 13 years ago and quit in 2003," he said over text message.

Rudy Wallang
Rudy Wallang

The musician we spoke to claims that Joseph may have suffered abuse since he had called a few friends early Saturday morning and spoken of assault. Joseph had also told one of them that Shah had a bouncer in his home.

Joseph's friends don't believe he could have taken his life. Uri Solanki aka DJ Uri, who has been part of the drum bass scene for over 20 years, met Joseph at a party four years ago and the two became friends. Uri says he spoke to him last on Friday evening and Joseph "sounded fine". "We had a regular conversation about what gigs we were playing at. He sounded normal," says Uri, overwrought with emotion. "The wound is so raw. He was super talented, and such a good friend."

Rudy Wallang, lead guitarist of Shillong-based Soulmate, sounded shocked when mid-day called him. "I can't believe Joseph would do something like this. He had stayed with me, and I had no clue if he was depressed or sick. The kind of soul and feeling he played with, no one else could," says the guitarist, who worked with Joseph in 2013 on the band's album, Ten Stories Up.

Anirban Chakraborty, Executive Director, Rock Street Journal, says Joseph became a name in the city's music circles because "he was an accomplished musician and keyboard player. He was an inspiration to others and one of the few true and young virtuosos on the scene."

With inputs by Sailee Dhayalkar

Also see: From Tarun Tejpal to Arunabh Kumar, some high-profile sex scandals
From Tarun Tejpal to Arunabh Kumar, some high-profile sex scandals

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