Indian Ocean's Rahul Ram who performs this weekend says, "I don’t mind online gigs at all, I perform better"
Indian Ocean and Aisi Taisi Democracy's Rahul Ram will perform for IFA's virtual show Rahul Ram in Hitting the High Notes this weekend, in a candid chat he tells us more!
For a musician who has been performing to live audiences for over three decades, playing online may not be ideal. But Rahul Ram, bassist of the acclaimed band Indian Ocean, says virtual shows have brought out the best in him. “I don’t mind online gigs at all. What happens during a virtual performance is that you can hear yourself and the band much better. When you are on stage there are a thousand distractions— there’s the sound of the audience, and sounds of the wind — a lot of things that come in the way. But online, I perform better,” says the musician who will be performing live this Saturday for the show Rahul Ram in Hitting the High Notes.
The show, a fundraiser hosted by the India Foundation for the Arts (IFA), will be an unplugged session, that will be followed by a freewheeling chat with Arundhati Ghosh, executive director of IFA. After this, the stage will be open to questions from the virtual audience. One can expect hits such as Khandisa and Ma Rewa from Indian Ocean, but Rahul says he won’t be performing other songs by the band. “A lot of those songs cannot be sung by just one person with a guitar. It isn’t possible to create that atmosphere,” he explains. This doesn’t mean that the evening will be limited to just a few tracks. Rahul, who is also part of the band Aisi Taisi Democracy (with writer Varun Grover and stand- up comedian Sanjay Rajoura), will play some songs from this band’s repertory as well. While most of the songs by Aisi Taisi Democracy are political, Rahul says, “I will be performing relatively non-controversial songs like Mere Samne Wali Sarhad Pe (a take on the popular Hindi classic, Mere Samne Wali Khidki Mein).”
Though the artiste is synonymous with Indian Ocean, Aisi Taisi Democracy has put him in the limelight in the recent past. “It seems recent, but it has already been seven years since I started this band. I have been doing a lot of work with them and we produce a lot of videos, so people think I have stopped playing with Indian Ocean. I have to tell them that’s not the case because Indian Ocean was still doing about 40 shows a year, before the pandemic,” he clarifies.
It’s interesting to see how Rahul has struck a balance between the two bands. Indian Ocean had been active in the ’90s, voicing support for various social issues, but the band focused more on their music and also composed for Hindi films. With Aisi Taisi Democracy, Rahul has been quite politically active. “As artistes, we have become more political, I think. As a young man, I took part in the Narmada Bachao Andolan with Indian Ocean. Politics was always around but I wasn’t too active or doing activist kind of work,” he says.
This weekend, Rahul will also talk about his journey as a musician. “I don’t think many people know that he also holds a PhD in Environmental Toxicology from Cornell University. One of the purposes of the conversation with him is for the audience to get to know him better,” offers Arundhati. The biggest draw though will be watching the artiste perform live in an intimate virtual setting.
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