The Music Project: Back with a Bang

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“Whoa, you are finally doing it. I am super-excited! Been rushing through the songs in my head,” says Martand Badoni, 25, an aspiring musician based in Dehradun.

It has been a year and a half since the end of the first series of Tehelka Music Project (TMP), which was started in late 2010 and was widely acclaimed as a launch pad for aspiring independent singers. While the project showcased various artistes performing original compositions belonging to various genres, the visuals of the series painted a different imagination to the average music lover.

Take, for instance, the episode featuring Ditty and Mark. Painting the lake around Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi, in its richest hues, the camera was left to roll while an artiste pulled her tongue out in jest. Dwelling on these moods and the quirkiness of musicians and crew alike, TMP pioneered the beginning of an Indian You- Tube culture that was both democratic and exclusive in more ways than one. Shot outside professional studio spaces, the project’s first series archived a plethora of raw, unplugged and acoustic sounds from a range of artistes. As a result, the project garnered rave reviews for its “deftly recorded audio and compelling, honest videos of the musicians”. In short, the project touched upon an untapped music potential in the country in the simplest way possible.

“I think the first series was generally good in terms of both visuals and music. The sound quality could have been better though. I think if the second series is in the making, it must have episodes showcasing a collaboration of artistes,” says Arjun Aravind, 20, the lead guitarist of the band Perfect Equation.

The first series of TMP featured artistes such as Kavya Trehan, Shantanu Pandit, Dhruv, Parvathy Baul, Zeb & Haniya and Siddhant Shukla. While Kavya gave voice to her own unstructured expressive compositions, Shantanu attempted to customise a unique acoustic folk style of music. In addition to portraying this stream of upcoming artists, TMP also featured established names such as Rabbi Shergill, Junkyard Groove and Hari & Sukhmani. TMP-2, however, aspires to eschew the linear narratives that were the hallmark of the first series.

“I think the first series had a sense of style but there was repetition after a point. We had episode after episode featuring musicians in different settings, but the theme remained the same. This time, we would like to play around with themes and make an episodic series along those lines. We will also experiment with locations and the idea of collaborations,” says Meetesh Dixit, 25, video editor of TMP- 2. Though the task does not involve the establishment of a brand, the process of ensuring a suitable comeback is a cause of concern in many ways.

“When Tehelka began TMP, the industry was beginning to grapple with the new notion of music on YouTube. Coke Studio was then on its way to finding a substantial number of followers. Now, the market around YouTube has expanded to include so many brands and musicians. Everyone around you is shooting a personal video of themselves singing a cover or otherwise. Therefore, my focus would be to ensure something new in terms of visuals. I do not intend to follow the same format as before,” says Dipin C, 29, cinematographer of TMP-2.

While TMP-1 was shot in various locations ranging from bookstores to rooftops and abandoned bungalows, TMP-2 is planning to feature visuals of the rich nightlife of Delhi, interspersed with some food joints. “It will also focus on schools and colleges. We are looking forward to shooting 2-3 minute segments of aspiring singers among students. Apart from that, if things pick up, we hope to hold some jamming sessions involving established singers. As of now, we must focus to sustain the popularity we garnered last time. We have a huge but exciting task ahead,” says Nidhin Chandran, 26, production executive of TMP-2.

All in all, it definitely looks like the preliminary stage for TMP-2 has been set. The rest of the show, as the organisers say, will kick-start with a bang.

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