Political rapping, dubstep dancing

The last day of India Music Week at suburban hotspot Bonobo features two relatively new bands — Kolkata-based Gandu Circus and Mental Martians, a Mumbai-based band.

“We call it Posto Punk Bangla Rap,” says guitarist Neel Adhikari, former member of Five Little Indians — the band that provided the soundtrack for Gandu. They disbanded soon after the release of the film in 2010, and that’s when Adhikari decided to team up with rapper and director of Gandu, Qaushiq ‘Q’ Mukherjee.

Neel Adhikari and Q perform as Gandu Circus

“Ours is a post-punk sound. We added the Posto because we want to portray our Bengali connect. Posto is a popular Bengali dish that uses poppy seeds. Poppy seeds are also used to create opium, so Posto has a psychedelic feel,” offers Q, who is also the founder and CEO of film production company Overdose Joint.

“Our vocals are in Bengali and we usually comment on the political situation in Kolkata,” explains Adhikari. The fact that their listeners at Bonobo may not be proficient in the language doesn’t concern them much. “We have performed across Europe and India. Most listeners get the basic idea anyway,” says Q. The rapper grew up listening to French rap — although he didn’t understand the words, he was deeply affected by their form of protest rap.

Jiver Singh provides the electronic element. Their performance is always accompanied by theatrics and visuals — “which is why we call ourselves Gandu Circus,” adds Adhikari. “The theatrics help listeners look beyond the literal meaning of the lyrics,” explains Q.

The visuals are created by Overdose Joint. “They are meant to provide a connect to the songs and create an ambience of Kolkata. These are mostly used in between songs,” says Adhikari.

Mental Martians, on the other hand, has a trippy semi-live style, which combines Indian percussion with dubstep. The thee-member band consists of former DJ Piyush Bhatnagar, dubstep aficionado Sarvesh Shrivastava and percussionist Tarang Singhal. Singhal, who plays the tabla, darbuka, djembe, bongo and drums, provides the live element to the group.

“The idea of getting these two bands to perform at the India Music Week was to introduce Mumbai audiences to their music. Both have performed outside the country several times and have been very well-received, so it’s a shame that they haven’t played here enough,” says Vibhu Sharma, festival co-ordinator, India Music Week.

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