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Watch: Swarathma’s Back-to-School Blues on ‘Beta Sweater Pehno’

The Bengaluru folk rockers’ sarcastic new single calls the bluff of pedantic schooling, offers a video throwback to childhood days

Rolling Stone India
Rolling Stone India Feb 28, 2017
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Times might have changed but the drudgery of going to school–from the dressing up to the ride there and then class after class–is something that still remains. Bengaluru folk rock band Swarathma pick at all such pedantic points on their latest music video “Beta Sweater Pehno.”

The first single after a string of non-album promo videos such as “Rang Zinda Hai,” “Main Unme Se Nahin Hoon” and “Is Shahar,” Swarathma turn to weepy violins (Sanjeev Nayak)  and bitter basslines (Jishnu Dasgupta) on “Beta Sweater Pehno,” which takes aim at helicopter parenting and India’s obsession with grades.

Knowing just how enterprising the band has always been, it’s no surprise to hear the song is part of a larger social cause–Release The Pressure, a campaign that addresses the exam stress faced by teenage students, initiated by soft drink brand Mirinda. Dasgupta, who set up the association, tells us, “It came from a chance conversation when I was talking to a friend who worked for Mirinda. I told him about the song. We thought it was a great fit.”

At the same time, there’s no direct product endorsement, something that vocalist and video director Vasu Dixit always avoids. Although each member is dressed as a pre-teen school-goer in the video, Dixit—who himself sports a skirt and fluffy ponytails—ensured that the video wouldn’t come across as a parody or something that stereotypes, say, young girls. “I was very clear to not imbibe any mannerisms. In fact, in the whole video, everyone in the band only interacts once, at the very end.”

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“Beta Sweater Pehno,” which got its live debut in September last year with a few other songs like “Aasma Ki Dukaan” (which Dixit says might just be their next single), is the first to be produced by the band, mixed by guitarist Varun Murali and to feature new drummer Joel Milan Baptist. Dixit adds, “Right now, we want to release more singles. The retain-ability is more. Maybe by the end of the year or early next year, we might have the album out.”

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