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10 Best Indian Music Videos of 2021

From empowering stories to reminiscing loss and wild sojourns, Indian independent music sparked engrossing visuals this year

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10. Ankur Sabharwal – “Better Man”

Analogue camera, black and white film, stop-motion and tons of cinema history easter eggs abound in New Delhi rock artist Ankur Sabharwal’s music video for “Better Man.” Directed by Mrinal Bahukandi, the music video ably reflects the many introspections of a person in the throes of the good vs. evil dilemma. Sabharwal emotes wildly for the camera like he was born for it – a side we haven’t seen before – and the painstakingly put together sets make for a total treat in each frame, supported by the joyous song. – A.T.

9. Kayan – “Be Alright”

Mumbai artist Ambika Nayak aka Kayan’s breezy song “Be Alright” comes wrapped in a chic video shot and directed by Iyanah Bativala. In the colorful and vibrant clip, Kayan performs the track while shining in purple and clutching a sunflower atop a terrace. In other scenes, the singer is seen pulling off a pink knitted hat and yellow sunglasses, showcasing her strong fashion game and reassuring listeners that “we gon be alright.” – D.B.

8. Sanjeeta Bhattacharya, Aman Sagar – “Khoya Sa”

For New Delhi musicians Sanjeeta Bhattacharya and Aman Sagar’s collaboration on the pop/R&B ballad “Khoya Sa,” the artists got director Karan Kapoor as well as writer and editor Ashish Tripathi on board. In the video, Bhattacharya is seen starring in it alongside fellow singer-songwriter Tanmaya Bhatnagar. The visual brings the song to life as both Bhattacharya and Bhatnagar share subtle romantic moments with one another in the bylanes and chawls of New Delhi’s Chandni Chowk and Yamuna Ghat. – D.B.

7. Komorebi – “Chanda”

New Delhi producer-singer Tarana Marwah aka Komorebi teamed up with animator Arushi Kathuria to help craft the hauntingly beautiful music video for her ambient electronic offering “Chanda.” Marwah, Kathuria and Vedabrata Rao came up with the concept of showcasing the possessions of people who aren’t there anymore. Through the clip, we see spirits and elements such as Marie Gold biscuits, tea, golf clubs and a rocking chair that were once cherished items of loved ones lost. – D.B.

6. Dhruv Visvanath – “Fly”

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Although filmmaker Arsh Grewal worked on a rather somber video for Kamakshi Khanna’s “Duur,” singer-songwriter Dhruv Visvanath’s break-free pop-rock song “Fly” was the visual artist’s way to present her arresting stop-motion storytelling. Visvanath is as emphatic as always in his singing, but anyone who follows his stage banter knows he loves delighting in a good pun. Thus arrives the tale of an egg “that realizes it’s stronger as a hard-boiled egg.” Narrated with the urgency of a Disney animated feature, “Fly” brings in a ton of character and personality, all from the confines of a kitchen. – A.T.

5. Jayesh Malani – Full/Circle

Bhopal-born multi-instrumentalist and filmmaker Jayesh Malani’s five-track EP Full/Circle was released in an aural and visual fashion. Malani has stitched together a beautiful and imaginative film for the record to complement the songs. It has been shot by cinematographers Prajwal Shivanna, Mark Tipple, Maumoon Lowe, Viraj D and Malani who also directed and edited it. According to the artist, the film can also be seen as a painting in which “the feeling” is the most important part. – D.B.

4. Kamakshi Khanna, OAFF – “Duur” 

New Delhi singer-songwriter Kamakshi Khanna linked up with visual artist Arsh Grewal for an aesthetically pleasing black and white music video for her cinematic track, “Duur,” featuring Mumbai-based producer Kabeer Kathpalia aka OAFF. In the clip, Khanna is at her emotional best as she delivers an emphatic on-screen display combined with striking camera work and an elegant set design. It is no surprise that this music video has amassed over 100,000 views on YouTube. – D.B.

3. Takar Nabam – “Good Night”

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Laika might be the first animal to orbit the earth, but Takar Nabam and animator Hage Nobin see a different side to it. In the animated music video for Nabam’s solemn, jazz-inflected song of departure and lost love, there’s a story of an adorable connection between Laika and her trainer. Between Nabam’s yearning, bittersweet refrains, the tale of this little dog who was launched into space takes a different, heart-wrenching perspective, one that’s undoubtedly tearjerker material. – A.T.

2. JBabe – “Punch Me In My Third Eye”

Zany doesn’t come close to describing Chennai indie artist JBabe aka Joshua Fernandez’s single and music video for “Punch Me In My Third Eye.” While he’s fed his punk-rock side with The F16s on occasion, JBabe’s previous material has been groovy and mellow. With the help of director Lendrick Kumar and DOP Prayoon Sajeev, JBabe takes a baseball bat to it all – social constructs, fake healers, astrology and mental health stigmas. With a no-fucks-given smile on her face, Preethi Alex (who plays Fernandez’s potential ponnu) gleefully gets her head shaved and smashes a cake in JBabe’s face. It’s colorful chaos and we’re here for it. – A.T.

1. Aditi Ramesh – “Shakti”

Mumbai-based singer-songwriter Aditi Ramesh worked with videographer Ronit Sarkar on her first-ever music video for her experimental offering “Shakti.” The visuals are pleasing to the eye and Ramesh is seen performing the song in a classroom while showcasing her dance moves, and adding to the impact are the slick outfit changes. With help from several extras in the clip, Ramesh narrates a tale of reclaiming one’s own power through the video. – D.B.

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