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Exclusive Premiere: Mali Weaves a Cautionary Tale in ‘Mango Showers’ Music Video

The Mumbai-based singer-songwriter tells all on industry truths with her latest single

Jessica Xalxo Aug 05, 2019

The pop single “Mango Showers” is the first offering from Mali's upcoming debut album. Photo: Ronit Sarkar

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The last time we spoke to Mali aka Maalavika Manoj, she had just released a tribute to her grandfather, the nostalgic single “Play.” Since then, the Mumbai-based singer-songwriter has been spending time in the studio, working on her upcoming debut album. “Mango Showers” is the first pop offering from the LP that Mali plans to release over the next year, a piece of work she describes as having “elements of darkness” in both the music and lyrics.

Mali’s “Mango Showers” is a cautionary tale. Artwork by Upamanyu Bhattacharyya.

The song’s beginnings can be traced back to the mango showers from two monsoons ago. The uninvited spells of rain coincided with a series of incidents that inspired the song. “I remember associating gloomy weather and dark rain clouds with feeling overwhelmed and overpowered,” says Mali. She was approached by a record label owner who tried to sell her the dream of ‘making it’ in the music industry. Something didn’t feel right and she eventually refused to sign the contract. “It felt as if I would have more to lose than gain in doing so, and that someone or the other would eventually be taken advantage of if they chose to sign it,” she says. 

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A year later, a good friend of the singer-songwriter committed suicide. This occurred shortly after they began to work with the dubious label, leading to a lot of speculation and outrage in the music community. “The fact that a case as tragic as this was being spoken about constantly at one point but has been forgotten about today really affected me. More people need to be made aware of the fact that danger is always knocking and that we should always be careful about who we choose to work with,” says Mali.

The music video features faceless dancers plaguing and enticing the singer-songwriter. “There’s something menacing about a face devoid of expressions and I think that the masked figures represent emotionless individuals who put on an act to get what they want from you,” says Mali. The theatrical choreography was born out of a casual conversation between the musician and Mumbai-based choreographer Aarati Divanji who employed a blend of jazz and modern contemporary styles in Mango Showers. Divanji was joined by dancers Sasha Shetty and Alisha Lazarus in her debut choreography project. The music video was filmed overnight in city-based director Jishnu Guha’s (also known as the singer-songwriter Short Round) living room. 

The musician maintains that the industry is not for the faint of heart. With there being a stark difference between the goals of music business professionals and that of artists, there is need for a healthy balance to come into play. “Powerful people in the industry need to stop seeing artists as assets and start initiatives to improve the quality of lives of artists (such as mental health initiatives, financial help, etc.) because I think the health of the industry lies in the health of its creators,” says Mali. With musicians having a hold on both music distribution and a far more organic reach and audience, the singer-songwriter sees no need for artists to sign away most of their rights by being bound to a label contract. “Unless you know for sure that the label will promote you in the way that you want and that you’re sure of what you’re giving up for it, it’s far less complicated to just take the indie route,” she says. 

Watch the video for “Mango Showers” below:

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