Because its Indian Ocean. Its their story. Its all about their music. And if you are not a fan of Indian Ocean, what are you listening ? Or what are you smoking, dude ?
From Kabir to Kashmir, Narmada to North-East, Indian Ocean’s music has the sound and soul of India. The roots that makes it an original and unique voice. And they just dont sing those songs, they believe in it, they live by it.
Jaideep Varma’s documentary Leaving Home starts with a really funny and smart line, the funniest I have ever read on a film’s opening credit. Actually even before the credit rolls. Am not going to spoil the fun by telling you the line.
The documentary unfolds in different chapters, based on their songs and tells the story of all the four band members, one by one. Susmit Sen, Rahul Ram, Amit Kilam & Asheem Chakravarty. How the band was formed, new members, entry, exit, girl in the band, girl gone, days of struggle, no money, first performance, first song, first album – many unknown and known stories are documented through family members and freinds.
Sometimes you cringe at the way the handheld shaky camera is used, you can spot the boom mike, its shadow, the lapel mike wires, the second camera in the frame while the first one is shooting and wonder why the makers could not cut it out at the edit or just be little more careful during the shoot. But if you are an Indian Ocean fan, you just sail through without wondering much about it. Because this is one untold story that needs to be told.
The tone is intentionally raw & rugged, the space has not been polished to make it look better, much like what the music of Indian Ocean is all about. Also, as a friend pointed out, there is enough drama in their story to convert it into a feature film but here everything has been kept subtle without hammering it down the throat with loud music and going extreme close up to record the tears rolling down, as the news channels intentionally do in their features.
At one tense moment, the camera remains on Asheem, when he is talking about his childhood and then he goes silent for few seconds and you wait and wait, not knowing what is he going to say next. But Jaideep holds it back without intruding his space for any kind of emotional manipulation.
The film was edited much before Asheem’s death but now it seems too uncanny. May be it was all written. The film opens with Asheem’s voice, it closes with his story and there is a clip of him singing “wahan kaun hai tera… musafir…jayega kahan…dum le le ghadi bhar…yeh chaiyaan payega kahaan! Gave me goosebumps all over. Still seems unbelievable that the man on the screen is not anymore with us.
Towards the end, at another point, the director even asks the band members about their future plans. What will they do when they grow old or are the worried about tomorrow ? what will happen next ? Then, they didnt. Now, we know something.
And thats why this documentary is important. We dont have the tradition of documenting our cultural history. Films, music, art, theatre…we never bothered. Lost it all. Its great that someone thought about Indian Ocean and documented their times and music because with one core member gone, it will never be the same again. I know that they got new members, they will continue with their music but somehow I already have a mental block. May be, am thinking too much. But there is some good news too. Have been told that there are many pending tracks that has Asheem’s contribution in many way.
So, three cheers to their music. And more cheers for documenting the tales of their music. Jaideep is trying to get a theatrical release for it. Hope it happens soon. And those of us who saw the film, were expected to talk about it, if we liked it, so that atleast twenty people would buy the ticket when it releases. I hope it goes much beyond twenty.
Do this favour to yourself. When it releases, buy the ticket. Its one ticket for lot of music. And if you know & love Indian Ocean, I know you will do it for sure.
For more about the film, click here.
PS – As always, Sudhir Mishra’s sound bites are priceless, with Che Guevara on the back wall and Hazaroon Khwashein Aisi on the side wall.
PS1 – Jaideep is also planning a four hour version of it with more music and more stories. May be for the dvd.
PS2 – A friend made a very relevant comment after the screening. If your kid is still feeling suicidal, forget Aamir Khan & 3 Idiots, go watch this film. Who said life is going to be easy. But see, there is way to do it. These guys did it, lived it, enjoyed it. And then you would not mind dying for it too. Just dont waste it.
Here is an excerpt from the documentary…Asheem and more…