Attend singer Suman Sridhar's special Valentine's Day performance

Updated: 14 February, 2018 09:17 IST | Snigdha Hasan | Mumbai

Explore the many meanings and expressions of love at a performance of romantic songs, retro Bollywood, and poetry presented in a contemporary avatar

The Black Mamba inaugurated the 20th Contemporary Arts Festival Videobrasil, Sao Paulo, 2017
The Black Mamba inaugurated the 20th Contemporary Arts Festival Videobrasil, Sao Paulo, 2017

If the mush around you is making you wonder how love got hijacked by pop culture, only to be reduced to a clichéd four-letter word, The Black Mamba is with you on this one. The live electro duo of singer-songwriter-actor Suman Sridhar and award-winning filmmaker and electronic musician Natasha Mendonca, have created a special Valentine's Day performance called Love Bytes.

With love songs, poetry and retro Bollywood presented in a contemporary fashion, listeners can expect an interesting coming together of Afro-Indian grooves, piano, synths, orchestral arrangements, operatic harmonies, electronic beats and storytelling at the performance featuring original compositions and covers.

Suman Sridhar. Pic/Sam Mohan
Suman Sridhar. Pic/Sam Mohan

"For some, Valentine's Day is a holiday invented by greeting card companies to make much ado about a soppy four-letter word. For others, it promotes what they consider 'immoral' acts such as dating outside the institution of marriage. Regardless, one's relationship with love and its layered meanings and expressions gets stoked on this day," says Sridhar, known for her Bollywood hits such as Muskaane Jhooti Hain (Talaash) and Khoya Khoya Chand (Shaitan), about how the performance came to be.

Natasha Mendonca. Pic/Sabelo Narasimhan
Natasha Mendonca. Pic/Sabelo Narasimhan

Together with a different treatment of the music for tonight's gig, Sridhar and Mendonca also hope to explore the many meanings of love. "The phrase 'labour of love' is what most artistes do in a society like ours that loves art but prefers to consume artistic works below minimum wage or for free. We felt why not include all kinds of love, not just romantic love, through lyric, slam poetry and performance. People love their friends, animals, art, brands, jobs, substances, Facebook and mobile phones, sometimes, way more than their partners and families, so we thought to make room for all that on Valentine's Day," informs Mendonca. Sridhar adds, "Societal notions of love, and how it should be expressed can get so prescriptive that one cannot speak of love without speaking of hate. The performance explores love for wine, love for nature, love for books, same sex love, love for god. We also explore betrayal as a theme."

Do they see a shift in how love is portrayed in today's Bollywood music narrative than from what it was a decade ago? "Not really. The boy-meets-girl narrative seems to be intact," feels Sridhar. Mendonca elaborates, "The change is mainly in aesthetics, not in the actual understanding of love. Eve teasing and stalking are still considered primary ways to court a woman in Hindi cinema. This promotes and normalises criminal behaviour in Indian males and sadly, stunts their emotional and mental growth."

The year has begun on a good note for the creative duo. While Mendonca's feature film Ajeeb Aashiq // Strange Love on labour, class and gender, set in Mumbai (with Sridhar in the lead) won two international awards, they also plan the release of the Black Mamba album this year. The album had a world preview at London's Tate Modern museum in October 2017.

ON: Tonight, 9.30 pm
AT: The Finch, Shah Industrial Estate, opposite Huntsman Building, Saki Vihar Road, Andheri East.
CALL: 8055992993
COST: Rs 249

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First Published: 14 February, 2018 09:15 IST

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