The Shor Bazaar Blog

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mumbai Mirror online article on topical/conceptual song-writing

Mumbai Mirror's Ashwini Gangal* has written an article about the conceptual song-writing among Mumbai-based rock bands. Shor Bazaar (and the Doc) have been quoted along with a couple of dozen other bands (including Coshish, Tough on Tobacco, Demonic Resurrection, Zygnema, Ankur Tewari and the Ghalat Family etc.).

Find the article here. It's an interesting read!
Musical Tales

By Ashwini Gangal

Storytelling through music is not alien to rock music but there of late seems to be a positive surge in the kind of song themes and story concepts. We nose around and explore what Mumbai's rock bands are singing about nowadays

Come in dear sir,
Let me show you around.
I serve the master,
Who lives in this house,
The guests are arriving,
Dont look so pensive,
Dinner will be served shortly,
A treat for the senses...'

Not the likes of David Bowie, Jim Morrison or Roger Waters; the lines above represent the kind of lyrics city-based rock bands are penning these days. With more and more bands mushrooming constantly, lyrical and musical narratives are hitting some bold notes.

Mangesh Gandhi, songwriter, Coshish, explains, "There are scores of new bands and hence newer ideas and issues to write about. Many progressive bands are releasing concept albums where one single story is woven through all the songs .The effort is also to create 'musical films' where the audience hears not only the words but also visualises the story being narrated. These are great new developments."

Krishna Venkitachalam, bass guitarist for Shor Bazaar, observes, "People don't think of bands as sources of stories and interesting concepts – a huge misconception, because the point of being a musician is not to perform but also to convey a message.”

Gandhi points out that although a recent trend in Mumbai, this has been happening in the West for a while now. Riju Dasgupta, songwriter for Albatross, agrees with him. “Internationally, musical storytelling is common; in fact there's an entire genre in the west that's LOTR-based, called 'Tolkien Metal',” he informs.

He further adds, “In Mumbai, concept albums are picking up though – Demonic Resurrection for example has a fantasy-based one. Also, bands are now expressing unique things; Bangalore-based band Slain sings about Christ, for instance."

Spreading the word

Singing about socially relevant issues and spreading preachy messages almost seems ironic given the bratty image most bands portray, but surprisingly enough, this is true. As songwriter Sidd Coutto (Tough on Tobacco) puts it, "We send out socially relevant messages like 'don't drink and drive' and 'don't start smoking'. I know it's a strange message coming from a pop-rock-reggae band, but it's more like 'like look at us we're all addicted, so learn from our mistakes and don't start smoking!'"

Along the same lines, Krishna calls Shor Bazaar an ‘educated band of radical thinkers’. “We write about serious issues like ragging/school bullying, the notoriety of Savita Bhabhi and use a lot of Indian mythological analogies," he says.

Similarly, apart from penning songs inspired by Lord Voldemort, Spiked Crib writes about all the issues that society loves to deny. Lyricist Gareth Mankoo reveals, "We sing about abortion, suicide and infidelity. Our song 'The Butcher's Prayer' is about the mindset of a rapist."

A lot of these songs on prevalent issues stem from personal experiences. Siddharth Basrur, songwriter for Dog Ate Disco,confides, "I used to be in a drug rehabilitation centre, so I write about my journey. I also write about current themes like item girls, the saas-bahu TV culture and the need to vote for the right politician."

Art imitates life

It comes as no surprise that the 26/11 terror attacks have become a common topic for bands to be vocal about. Mayank Sharma, drummer, Zygnema, shares, "We have a song called '59' which tells the story of those 59 gruelling hours faced by hostages at the Taj during the 26/11 attack. The song addresses the way the goverment reacted, how politicians resigned and how it became a political issue instead of a national one." Zygnema also sings about the North Indian-Maharashtrian divide, the Indian economy and encourages national unity.

Coshish has songs like 'Rehne Do' about the Godhra riots, 'Woh Kho Gaye' which addresses alcohol and rehabilitation and 'Raaste' strives to encourage secularism, religious tolerance and humanity. Meanwhile, Urdu band The Ghalat Family also sings about terrorism, 26/11, materialism, government manipulation and blind faith in country and religion.

Attributing his own creativity to today's unsteady times, songwriter Ankur Tewari, The Ghalat Family, says, "The country is full of crises today and there's a lot of meaningful stuff to write about. It's no longer about rhyming random words; lyrics are crucial."

Clearly, rock bands today are emerging as an excellent medium for one to gauge the ethos of the prevailing era.
Thanks to Mumbai Mirror and Ashwini!

(Article courtesy Mumbai

(* Apologies for the typo which is now corrected)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Tonight on Radio Mirchi 98.3 FM with Jeeturaj RJ

Shor Bazaar will be on air with Jeeturaj on Radio Mirchi's Klub Mirchi show from 9 pm. What can you expect? A wacky interview, a few of our songs, a couple of special songs as requested on air by Jeeturaj (including a Ganapati song) etc.

This is part of the 'band banaao jeeturaj ko sunao' contest which airs every Saturday from 9 pm onwards Radio Mirchi in the Klub Mirchi show. Tune in and let us know what you think. Did we sound good? Did we sound foolish but entertaining? Did we strike up a controversy? We'd love to hear from you!

We would like to thank Vaibhav Wavikar (Filter Coffee) for joining us on tabla and percussions for this gig!

Time: 9 pm onwards
Where: Radio Mirchi 98.3 FM
With: Jeeturaaj, India's most wanted RJ

Monday, August 17, 2009

Savita Bhabhi video preview!

It's here! The "Savita Bhabhi" video directed by Varun Agarwal (from Last Minute films) has just been uploaded on FaceBook. We don't yet know how to upload it on YouTube. Until then, here's the link.

We love it! What do you think?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Shor Bazaar's "Savita Bhabhi" in a documentary film on internet censorship

During our visit to Bangalore, we had the opportunity to catch up with Namita Malhotra, a legal researcher and media practitioner at the Alternative Law Forum in Bangalore, India. She is making a film on internet censorship and surveillance across Asia, along with Subasri Krishnan - an independent documentary filmmaker in New Delhi, as part of the Open Net Initiative project (

This film looks at the dynamics of internet censorship and surveillance across different parts of Asia - whether the struggle of people like Tibetans and Burmese, the turmoil of individuals whose privacy is violated online, the closing down of spaces of free sexual expression and the anger of those whose freedom to blog, to e-mail, to express themselves is taken away in both repressive or democratic regimes.

This is what she has to say
As activists and filmmakers we are against censorship and in the case of Savita Bhabhi it is clear that the blocking of the website is unwarranted. The irony is also that Savita Bhabhi - a playful, inventive comic - is banned, at a time when finally the Indian courts have decided to decrminalise homosexuality. It seems that in terms of personal freedom and privacy, we have gone one step forward and two steps back -- and our losing precious spaces of expressing ourselves, especially on the internet. This is the story that we would like to explore
Namita is using the song "Savita Bhabhi" in this documentary film. Along with the song, she has recorded an interview with us and has taken some footage of our gig at Kyra which will be used in the documentary. We are extremely pleased and honored to be a part of this venture. We confess that it was OUR pleasure working with them. Here's a little bit more about the film.

It is supported by Open Net Initiative (ONI). ONI does research on internet censorship and surveillance across the world. Through this film, she wants to examine internet censorship by various governments in Asia, but particularly India where there is a lot of sex, sexuality and pornography related regulation. The film will be directed by Namita A. Malhotra and Subasri Krishnan.

is a researcher/media practitioner who works at the Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore ( She is a graduate of the National Law School and has a keen interest in pushing the relationship between law and media to look at the critical and aesthetic possibilities. Subasri Krishnan is an independent documentary film-maker who has been working independently for 5 years on films that deal with questions of gender and economy. This will be the first time that the two of them will be collaborating on a project.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Kyra Theatre experience

Yesterday was the first time ever that Shor Bazaar played down in the South. Bangalore, Kyra theatre, and the amazing crowd that had gathered made us feel really special. It was the first time in a long long time that we played our entire set. The occasion was made extra-special by the mercurial Jai Row Kavi on the drums.

As always, we had a blast performing and going berserk on stage. "The electric set was the loudest that Kyra had heard" said Shimrei (the sound engineer) at the end of our performance and we don't think he was kidding. That kinda explains why our first-ever five-piece 'unplugged' set got an overwhelming response from the crowd. That included a new version of "La Ilaj" and a mellower version of "Pagli Ladki." We also debuted a couple of new songs - "Chandramukhi" and a version of "Rehen De."

The most endearing memory of our performance was the standing ovation and applause after the rendition of "Pagli Ladki". Quite honestly, we were astounded to see so many people standing up and giving kind smiles and the applause of our lives! There have already been getting quite a few requests for the song and we are thinking of recording it!

The sound was excellent - probably the best that we have played in an indoor setup. It is incredible to realize that Kyra is just 3 months old and already has a fantastic list of artists/bands who have had a blast playing there. We applaud the managment at Kyra for providing another brilliant destination for performing and enjoying live music.

Apart from the performance, we had a great time in Bangalore, away from the grind of a busy city like Mumbai. The folks at Kyra took wonderful care of us and put us up in this wonderful guest house which made us feel like staying back for a couple of weeks more at the least. Barring a couple of cab-related coordination problems, we couldn't have asked for anything better.

We also managed to catch up with Namita Malhotra who's making a documentary film on internet censorship. We are being featured in the documentary. More details later. Lastly, we would also like to thank our friends who turned up and gave us wonderful support!

Kyra Theatre - Aug 8th, 2009 - Shor Bazaar set list
  • Electric Set (I): Rasli, School, Chuppi, Savita Bhabhi, Nahin Accha, Mumbhai (cover), Jaisalmer Express
  • Acoustic Set: Chandramukhi, La Ilaj, Pagli Ladki, Rehn De (cover), Laal
  • Electric Set (II): Madhushaala, Yaar Bina (cover), Wada Shikan, Savita Barbie, Apsara
  • Encore: Rasili, Pagli Ladki

Friday, August 7, 2009

Bangalore, here we come!

In under a day's time, we'll be performing at Kyra Theatre, Bangalore. It's our first extended performance with Jai Row Kavi on drums. We're excited!

Those of you in and around Bangalore - we'll be expecting you. The gates open at 7 pm and we'll be on stage a little after 8 pm. Entry - Rs. 250/-

We have a few copies of our Savita Bhabhi single left and those will be available for you to pick up.

Come on, let's bring Kyra down!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Partners in Crime

Any list of excuses would not be sufficient enough to explain why we haven't posted a 'Thank you!' note to all of those special people who helped us to make 'Savita Bhabhi' such a remarkable success. So here goes!

As much as we would like to proclaim that Savita was an indigenous Shor Bazaar produce, any mention of the concept and implementation of the song would be utterly deficient without the mention of the following fine gentlemen:
  • Varun Agarwal - The fine gentleman from Last Minute Films. Varun was the "visionary" who came out with the concept in the first place. He pitched the idea to us, 'cause quite frankly, we are the only band that is puerile enough to consider making a song related to a porn comic strip. The final product had him grinning from ear to ear and we are honored to work with him the for a video.
  • Chinmay Harshe - The fine gentleman from Empire studios. We tried our best to make the song sound crappy - tracked the guitars at home, did the vocals at the C room of a studio for about 300 bucks per hour and gave him a track with a loaded-up, tweaked dhik-chack duppoom-duppoom Reason 4 auto-rickshaw beat. And after all that hard work we delegated it to Chinmay to mix it up. It took him two months to clean up the mess. We are sooo glad he did. Anyone want the original auto-rickshaw version for kicks? ;)
  • Rajat Nagpal - The fine gentleman of Rahim Murge Pe Mat Ro fame. We were pretty much a Rahim Murga when we met him. On the chopping block and ready to go under. The album we had recorded was going nowhere, our finances were in a mess and we were desperately seeking a lifeboat to sail us away from the wreckage. Rajat offered us a truck- of ideas and he was the one who suggested us to release singles. He has also consistently helped us get in touch with people who can assist our growth as a band. We owe him big time.
  • Sameer Malhotra - The fine gentleman a.k.a Daddy. He brings up platform after platform for musicians to showcase their work (Daddy's Windsong Wednesdays and Ce'st la vie Swimsong Sundays). Back in February, he was the one of the very few hosts who would let us play in his backyard. Since then, he has helped us in every possible way and we cannot even attempt to list it all. His events are like a magician's top hat, having an endless stream of quirky musicians leaping out at every given opportunity. He offered us a space to launch the single! :) Daddy - WE LOVE YOU!!
  • Jai Row Kavi and Jonathan Shewts Layers - The fine gentlemen who love to beat the skins out every moment of their lives. Jai (ToT, ex-PDV and Helga's Fun Castle) and Jonathon (Reverse Polarity) lent us their precious time, patience, and energy - and helped us obliterate the 'Reason 4' drum tracks. They really saved our asses and embarrasment and made the song ... ahem ... songs sound so cool! Jai has also done us a huge favor by willing to to sit on the Shor Bazaar drum throne! Needless to mention, we are honored to have him!
  • Nishant Vats - The fine gentleman of DogTheDog fame. Nishant designed the fabulous artwork for the Savita single. We absolutely love love LOVE the artwork. I'm sure we'll be doing a lot of work together going forward and we're really excited to be working with him. You can blame him if our website starts to look slick and funky!
Thanks you all for making 'Savita Bhabhi' a success.

(Joy & The Doc)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Collaboration, citations etc.

Shor Bazaar, as a band, has always wanted to pursue something new. We usually like off-beat, whacky stuff that tickles your senses in just the right way and we are pretty darned certain that there are others who feel likewise. Yes, we want to meet people from different niches of the art world - people with vibrant, tangential ideas so we can work with them to create something interesting and worthwhile.

Since posting about this on FaceBook and Twitter, we've already received a number of responses from across the nation. We are thrilled! Honestly. That's the reason I'm writing about this on our blog. So, if you think that you would like to work with us, or if you know someone who might fit the bill, please let us know. We'd be more than happy to hear from you.

Apart from that, we still continue to be amazed by the fantastic coverage we are getting. These are the new pieces. The rest of the stories can be viewed here.
We have also stumbled on a YouTube video of our CNN-IBN interview. Thanks to baboonlogic.

If you stumble on any such stories, please let us know - as a comment, e-mail, or the various social networking options.

Lastly - for only those in Mumbai - you can catch us performing live (with Tough on Tobacco) tomorrow (Sunday) at the Ce'st la Vie Swimsong Sundays brunch. 12 pm onwards. Cover is 1200 Rs./- per person. We have at least one surprise for you!!

Here's the FB event listing.