11 Best Indian Music Videos of 2019
Here’s a look at standout visual representations of songs which included slick animation, storytelling, superb camera work and more
The Local Train — “Gustaakh”
It understandably took a while for The Local Train to release another music video off their 2018 album Vaaqif. The animated, stop-motion incorporating clip for the arena-rock staple “Gustaakh” comes across as a labor of love directed by Mumbai’s Vijesh Rajan and his team at Plexus and produced by Mosambi Juice Production’s Krish Makhija (with an able assist from associate producer Harshvir Oberai). A fully digital age that’s also Orwellian, there’s references to megalomaniac leaders, building statues, new currency and a giant teddy bear gone rogue that makes for an action-packed, allegory-heavy viewing experience. – A.T.
Vasu Dixit — “Nadiyolage”
Bengaluru musician Vasu Dixit released the music video for “Nadiyolage” under his eponymous folk project earlier this year on World Music Day. Based on a Kannada poem of the same name (translating to ‘A River Poem’) by Bengaluru poet Mamta Sagar, the video is a spiritual glimpse into the universe through the eyes of a lone grasshopper. The acoustic-folk track pairs well with the immersive visuals which traverse the celestial and the earthly, exploring how souls see the surreal and the in-between, even turning psychedelic at times. In the music video directed by Bengaluru-based filmmaker Rita Dhankani, Dixit transitions in and out of the frames, his aura flickering to life and dissipating to a world that has no end in the cycle of life. – J.X.
Black Letters — “In My Senses”
Kerala-bred, Bengaluru-based alternative rock outfit Black Letters’ music video for their song “In My Senses” (from their 2019 album Still As You) features retro nostalgia through a cult-classic couple reunion. Directed by Mumbai-based filmmaker Pranav Bhasin, the cinematic five-minute cut begins with what seems like an abduction. Black Letters vocalist Sharath Narayan sings as he lays in the backseat, pierced through the abdomen with an arrow, while a woman (Pranjal Asha) resembling yesteryears Bollywood icon Madhubala in her role as courtesan Anarkali glances back from the shotgun seat, torn. It’s only at the end of the music video that viewers realize the band is reuniting Anarkali with her lover Salim (Satyajit Ravindra Varma) as she gets out of the car and Akbar’s (Vishaal Ram) cold body is laid on the grass. The band’s late night drive leads to a historic, futuristic and bittersweet reunion for the once separated historic lovers from Hindi cinema while acting as a commentary on the trappings (no pun intended) of love. – J.X.
Parekh & Singh — “Summer Skin”
Kolkata dream pop duo Parekh & Singh’s music video for “Summer Skin,” off their 2019 album Science City, is a tranquil meditation on the makings of love and life itself. With science serving as a metaphor for the thrill and discovery of the everyday and the passing of seasons, the duo deliver a distinct visual experience that not only makes you question the purpose of time but the strictures of it too. It’s hard to look away from the layered frames and even though it takes a while to catch on to a reasonable conclusion, you’ll definitely walk away with one. – J.X.
Smalltalk — “Tired”
Mumbai alternative band Smalltalk’s accompanying music video for their single “Tired” is as laidback as the song itself. In the almost zen-like clip directed by Mumbai-based filmmaker and musician Jishnu Guha, the band is seen in a range of relaxed activities from playing cards, doing a bit of meditating, competing in a game of noughts and crosses, trying their hand at Jenga, plonked on a couch watching a movie, sipping on illuminated drinks and more. If you’re looking for something stress-free to watch, Smalltalk’s “Tired” certainly ticks all the boxes. – D.B.
Parikrama — “Tears of the Wizard”
For their first video in 20 years, New Delhi rockers Parikrama have created quite a stir with “Tears Of The Wizard.” In the video directed by Sujit K. Jha, the band travels in a van (their song “Am I Dreaming” plays in the background as an Easter Egg of sorts). Soon after, the van breaks down and Parikrama – dressed in an all-black attire – step out into the tranquil nature of Mechuka in Arunachal Pradesh. The band is then seen performing the track against lush backdrops of mountains, rivers and fields, even as subtle visual cues point towards an entirely different storyline. At the end of the video, drummer Srijan Mahajan is woken up from a dream and we see the rest of the band still in the van traveling. – D.B.
Peter Cat Recording Co. — “Floated By”
Amongst India’s (and now France’s) favorite indie bands this year, Peter Cat Recording Co. offered “Floated By” as the first single off their album Bismillah, featuring wedding footage from vocalist and guitarist Suryakant Sawhney’s marriage to video journalist and filmmaker Surabhi Tandon. When he’s not on groom duty, Sawhney got behind the camera himself, along with filmmaker-friends Sachin Pillai and Nitish Kanjilal. If the horn section-aided “Floated By” gave everyone fuzzy feelings, it’s because it almost comes across as the perfect Indian wedding song with Sawhney’s affectionate lyrics set to somewhat surreal camera work. A video bonus: drunk uncles dancing their troubles away. – A.T.
The F16s — “Amber”
Chennai alt-rockers The F16s‘ first single, the dreamy “Amber,” off their new EP WKND FRNDS came with a charmingly crafted animated video by Deepti Sharma. The filter-heavy imagery follows a young girl who is trying to fit in with the “hip” crowd but is not able to and ends up struggling to find her true self. Come for the animated versions of the band (plus Indian indie scene regulars like their former managers Tej Brar and Kalidas Shenoy), stay for the band’s signature dose of melancholic rock. – D.B.
Your Chin — “Luv Important”
When you hear lyrics like “You cannot leave me/I won’t walk out/I wiped your snot,” one would probably think it’s tough to match up to Mumbai-based producer Your Chin aka Raxit Tewari’s quirky, open-ended, often outlandish lyricism. But with help from director M.G. Bopanna and actor Sautrik Mukherji, the electro-synth offering “Luv Important” meets its visual match.The video is trippy and mesmerizing at times with plenty of abstract imagery, including some which could cause you to do a double-take. – D.B.
Aabha Hanjura — “Roshewalla” Part 1 and Part 2
Bengaluru-based Kashmiri folk-fusion artist Aabha Hanjura has her own way of saying “sab kuch theek ho jayega (everything will be alright in the end)” about her home’s ever-changing volatile condition on the two-part “Roshewalla.” At a time when the territory of Kashmir continues to be on lockdown for over four months, the song and video perhaps provide some hope to optimists about how love will prevail, even through the harshest of times. Produced by Kochi-based production house MadGenius and directed by Vishak Nair, there’s puppetry and visual effects blended together to create gripping storytelling, much like the kiddie audience in the two-part video. – A.T.
Uday Benegal — “Antigravity”
As part of a release by Nexa Music, Mumbai musician Uday Benegal stars in the video for the pulsating rock rager “Antigravity.” Directed by Dubai-based filmmaker Tejal Patni, we’re treated to a visual delight that ranges from abstract imagery to people breaking free and expressing themselves through art. Benegal is seen as a sort of museum installation held inside a glass structure filled with water.