Sound of Swarathma

    • Jonathan Vikram Pradhan, Hindustan Times, New Delhi


  • Updated: Mar 13, 2011 19:13 IST

The audience swayed to their music like humble devotees. Their music spoke of; to put it in their own words, “songs born of pain and pleasure, joys and sorrows, rain and shine, of hope that lifts hearts out of despair, of life as we know it today.”

The audience were a happy bunch of Latin Americans, Brits, Indians, and people from other parts of the world. The most impressive thing about Swarathma, an Indian folk rock band based in Bangalore, who performed at the Hard Rock Café, in New Delhi’s Saket on Thursday, is that they connect to you instantly.

With a watertight percussion section that hangs like a harness, the vocals, bass, rhythm guitar and violin, play out the most amazing musical ecstasies to send their message across.

The Swarathma sound is contemporary Indian folk, with a fusion of rock, Carnatic, jazz and an undeniable Sufi influence. To simply put it, their music is the music of modern India (as we know it today). One of their songs, Barsenge, a rain song, a lively folksy piece with a punchy strain of Sarangi and body swaying beat of thavil (a traditional South Indian percussion instrument) is guaranteed to instantly lift your spirits.

While a lot of music today seems to sing about heart breaks and lost love, their Pyaasi(thirsty) addresses the Kaveri water dispute in South India which has been the bone of contention for the two Indian states, namely Karnataka and Tamil Nadu for over a couple of decades or more, in a most subtle yet thought-provoking manner.

Post show, I chatted with Jishnu (bassist) and Vasu (vocalist) and found that they had quit their I-T job and as media professional respectively in the Silicon valley and committed themselves to making more of the Swarathma music.

Little wonder, I also got to know that they have made several tours outside India and received similar applaud from people touched by their music. I asked them where they wanted to be as a band in days to come, and the answer I got in unison from both was that they wanted to become a “band loved by all”. By the way, they also have several national musical competition awards under their belt!

In the present context of India, the music of Swarathma has an important role to play. With more than 80 per cent of the population being below the age of 35, their music, I believe, will go a long way in helping the young generation of India put on their thinking caps and address issues which are hampering the growth story of India as a nation.

If music be the food of love and understanding, Swarathma play on.

Swarathma is: Jishnu (bass and backing vocals), Montry Manuel (drums), Sanjeev (violin), Pavan (percussion and backing vocals), Varun (lead guitar), Vasu Dixit (vocals and rhythm guitar)

For more information on Swarathma, visit their website