The members of the famous Agnee band talk about their upcoming release – Yeh Hai Bakrapur, their take on the current political scenario in India, music and more
When I began to pen down this interview with Agnee, one of the most profound bands on the Indian rock circuit, I couldn’t stop myself to bring down the coincidental connection the band now has with one of the hit shows once aired on MTV. Interestingly one of the most celebrated compositions of Agnee for MTV’s Splitsvilla was ‘Aahatein’ and the same channel hosted another hit show called the ‘MTV Bakra.’ Maybe the creators of Agnee, Mohan and Koco haven’t noticed this karmic connection with Bakra however their next Bollywood venture as music composers for Yeh Hai Bakrapur clearly highlights their unintentional connection with the animal.
The musical duo, Mohan and Koco formed Agnee back in 2006 and since then they haven’t looked back at all. They have gone on to make several albums and have worked on a few films; they now have donned the hat of a music composer for the soon to be released film, Yeh Hai Bakrapur. This film is a political satire and is set against the backdrop of rural India.
What made you choose this project?
Mohan – Janaki Vishwanathan who’s made the film came to us last year with this project. By then the film was already made but there was no songs in it. She asked us if we would want to compose music for the film. We saw the movie and our instant reaction was ‘Wow’. The film has been made beautifully. The content of the film made us choose the project.
You’ve done the music of this film for free. What convinced you to take this step?
Mohan – When we collaborated with this project, our priority was not to make money but to promote the cause. Moreover, for every artist it is important to be appreciated and that the listeners should like their songs. Money goes second in that list. Therefore, we have attached one cause with every song that we have composed for this film for instance Pair Anaadi talks about importance of voting, while Pyar mein bakra is a simple and a very innocent love song which is based on the romance between a village girl and the barber in the film. Our only motto attached is since it’s a song straight from the heart, all those who like this composition can contribute anything to Dharavi Rocks which is NGO who does amazing work of teaching music to the kids of Dharavi. One can contribute anything right from money to clothes to recycled material to anything else that these talented kids can use.
The bakra in the film is called Shahrukh. Tell us more about it.
Koco – It’s a very well known fact that goats are named after famous film stars. So, our goat is called Shahrukh and it had always been like that. We genuinely did not do anything purposely to strike that relevance with Shahrukh Khan. Also, the director of our film Janaki Vishwanathan is a huge SRK fan and even if you name him she would start blushing and smiling. So yes that’s how he is called Shahrukh.
How did you get Abbas Tyrewala on board?
Mohan: Abbas has written the song Pair Anaadi. Initially I was supposed to write the song, however, when I met Abbas, I discussed the idea of this song with him, and he loved it so much that he instantly said he would want to write the song. So the first thing that I asked him was how would we afford you? Abbas instantly replied, “Did I ask for money, let me just do it.” So that’s how he came on board and I am so bloody glad he wrote the song because he’s done a brilliant job with it.
The lyrics of the song Pair Anaadi is quite provocative. Did you receive any criticism from the political class of our country?
Mohan – Pair Anaadi was never made with an intention to provoke or demean anyone or any job. In fact, we are making fun of ourselves, many of the educated crowd today refutes from voting and exercising their right. The whole business of politics is not considered to be a good thing in our country and people don’t take pride in it. Moreover, we have not targeted any particular individual or a party since we do not want to make this a political agenda. The song has a strong message and we only want that to be conveyed to our audience. So far we have not received any backlash from anyone.
Koco your sensibilities as a musician is different from that of Mohan as you’re more into classic rock and pop while Mohan is into Carnatic and Hindustani classical. How do you balance these two diverse forms of music in the studio?
Koco – That’s exactly where we come from. Mohan has huge knowledge of western music besides his Indian side. He understands each and every tune and exactly knows where to fit them. Also, we balance each other with our diverse sense of music. Sometimes, we ourselves are surprised of the final product that we create (laughs).
Tell us about your association with Raghu Ram.
Mohan – There is a scene in the film where the bakra is supposed to be interviewed. Since I have known Raghu from years now, our natural choice was to ask him and Rajeev do that scene. So when I was discussing the film and the songs with Raghu especially Pair Anaadi, he really loved the lyrics of the song even more because he hates politicians. So he was naturally very excited and agreed to sing the song. Interestingly Raghu even has a keen ear for music, so that’s how he got associated with the film.
Since the elections season is on. What message would you want to give for everyone?
Koco – Exercising your right to vote is something no one should give upon, irrespective of your candidate wins or not. If at all you don’t vote, one has no right to complain about anything in the country because you haven’t registered your voice at the election stage. I had not paid my taxes since the last three years but since I finally have, I really wanted to vote, I think I can now complain (laughs).
What are the other projects you’re working on?
Mohan – Currently we are working on Abbas Tyrewala’s next ‘Mango’, simultaneously we are also working on our next audio album called ‘Sa Re Ga Ma’ which is a compilation of 10 songs from the golden era of Bollywood and are reinventing them. The album will have hit numbers like Bholi surat dil ke khote, Intehan ho gayi intezaar ki, Gore gore baake chore amongst others. We have taken a big risk as these are all cult songs. We are just hoping that everyone likes the album.