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Horse Garden Productions Revive Nineties Classic ‘Sa Ni Dha Pa’ With Comical Clip

The Colonial Cousins hit is part of the Mumbai composition duo’s new #bringingitback series

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David Britto Apr 14, 2020

Mumbai musicians Siddharth Talwar (left) and Zain Calcuttawala of Horse Garden Productions.

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When Mumbai-based musician-producer Zain Calcuttawala aka Bulli Bainbridge decided to go freelance in 2015, he found himself in limbo at first figuring out what he wanted to do. Although Calcuttawala had met Spud in the Box guitarist Siddharth Talwar at one of the band’s performances at the now-defunct Blue Frog in Mumbai, the two never hit it off at first. It wasn’t until Talwar went freelance too that his girlfriend – who was in college with Calcuttawala – got the pair acquainted.

The musicians would go on to form Horse Garden Productions (HGP) and compose music for ads, short films and video games as well as add sonic elements to Mumbai poet Gaya Lobo Gajiwala’s piece “What Were You Wearing?” Now the pair is channeling nostalgia with their new series #bringingitback in which they are creating their own version of non-film Indian music from the Nineties. They’ve kicked off the series with a rendition of pop-rock duo Colonial Cousins’ “Sa Ni Dha Pa” off their 1996 eponymous debut album.

On how the idea for the series came about, Calcuttawala tells us that during a dry spell at work they decided to try a different route with music they cared for. He says, “Music that holds a special place for us is music from the late Nineties from MTV and Channel V. Let’s take a bunch of songs from there and produce them in our own way.” The musician adds, “We just very organically narrowed in on ‘Sa Ni Dha Pa,’ it’s a very simple, fun song.”

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The two then began fleshing ideas for their interpretation of the track. Talwar laid out the chords on guitar while Calcuttawala started coming up with drum ideas. The pair then drafted in keyboardist Rohan Rajadhyaksha and vocalist Ankit Dayal (both Talwar’s bandmates from Spud in the Box), singer-songwriter Raghav Meattle, bassist Adil Kurwa (of metallers Letters and rock band The Koniac Net) and horn player Ramon Ibrahim (from ska outfit The Fanculos) to fill the sound. The track includes slick bass fills, elegant keys, sultry horn parts, chunky guitar and Dayal and Meattle’s harmonious vocal delivery. What differs from the breezy original is Horse Garden Productions’ more laidback and slower approach as well as the cranked up distortion levels for the last chorus.

The track’s accompanying video – conceptualized and edited by videographer/musician Jishnu Guha – sees all the artists recording their parts in a home studio while also playing the fool simultaneously. “As we started to just tweak things and figure out what worked we realized that you know what, ‘let’s just make this a gag video’,” says Calcuttawala. The star of the clip is without a doubt Kurwa who with his sensual beverage sipping, lowering of his sunglasses and cheeky smile while playing bass delivers a performance sure to make you bust out a few giggles. Also, the scene in which Calcuttawala sticks a piece of paper on Talwar’s back with the words “hit me” on it pays homage to the song’s original music video wherein Leslie Lewis does the same to bandmate Hariharan.

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Horse Garden Productions like everyone else is also adjusting to life during the current lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. Both Calcuttawala and Talwar teach at Mumbai’s True School of Music (TSM) and the drummer says, “TSM is doing their level best to have their entire curriculum now be taught online. So Sid and I have been trying to figure out with our own respective classes how to translate everything that we normally teach in person, online.” For their next #bringingitback installment, they’ve speculated on a few ideas but don’t have anything set in concrete yet. Calcuttawala says, “Let’s wait and see because I feel like the world right now has no idea what’s going to happen tomorrow.”

Watch Horse Garden Productions’ video for “Sa Ni Dha Pa” below:

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