Raghu Dixit: Nothing can replace Bollywood music
Raghu Dixit is a folk-rock singer who first wowed indie audiences and then started composing for films. He opens up ahead of a gig in the city
Raghu Dixit is one of the biggest names in the Indian indie circuit, which some people might find surprising given that he primarily sings in regional South Indian languages. Yet, his folksy tunes have such a foot-tapping quality that he's even performed before the Queen of England, no less. Now, the Raghu Dixit Project is about to play a concert in Mumbai, a city that doesn't get to hear the band too often. We caught up with the act's frontman over email ahead of the gig. Excerpts.
What are some of the ways in which indie music can occupy a more mainstream space in India?
The mainstream music in India is Bollywood. It's better to accept the fact that nothing can replace it! However, many indie musicians are finding their way into making music for films and therefore entering the mainstream. Apart from that, the Internet has played a huge role in increasing the audience base for indie music. But, it depends on the musicians to do something truly unique to stand out from the crowd and be heard.
The Raghu Dixit Project
How have you seen music festivals in the country evolve over the years?
Festivals have come a long way in India. More and more of them are now focussing not just on programming a great line-up, but also towards providing an experience for the audiences. Unlike festivals abroad, where the artistes more or less have to take care of everything, the ones here provide great hospitality for the musicians. But while I can't really complain about any festival that I have performed at, I have heard from other artistes that some of the newer festivals have been disastrous.
Then again, I would give them some leeway due to teething problems. Audiences, too, have become more open to travelling long distances and spending an entire weekend at a festival, and even camping at festival sites like people do in the West. But one thing that can probably improve is stage management - usually, there are huge delays, which have a cascading effect on the set durations of all the artistes.
How important do you think it is for musicians to touch upon social causes in their songs?
It's not important, but music is a great tool to bring a community together, cutting across caste and economic strata. If a band manages to entertain the audience while spreading social messages, it will be an amazing feat! But I have not indulged in activism through my music. Well, not yet!
What sort of a role do you think language plays in the realm of music? Should indie bands start singing in more regional languages?
This is a touchy subject for me. It should be left to the comfort of the musician to decide. I feel that I perform with far more conviction when I sing in Kannada. I enjoy singing more when I become completely at one with the lyrics. The comfort of singing in your mother tongue is unparalleled. Every other language is foreign and, therefore, there is some degree of unconscious compromise of conviction.
What do you have in store for the audience during your show in Mumbai?
Mumbai is so rare for us. So, I guess I will take the liberty of singing every possible song I have ever composed - the old and the new - and also a few songs from the movies I have composed for, like Chef, Mujhse Fraandship Karoge, and Bewakoofiyaan.
On: February 9
At: KJ Somaiya College, Vidyavihar.
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