Premiere: Mumbai Band Madmast Channel Rage at Demonetization Debacle in ‘Kaisi Ye Maaya’ Video
Their third single sees them at their heaviest, intending the track as a “personal middle finger” to shifty morals
On November 8th, 2016, the Indian government announced a sudden end to ₹500 and ₹1,000 notes in a bid to eradicate black money. Mumbai band Madmast’s vocalist Vaibhav Sharma was in Lucknow just days before his wedding, with demonetization deeply affecting his big day. He recounts, “Me and my now wife’s family obviously had a lot of money in cash, to attend to the expenses, which at that time mostly were done with cash transactions.”
Like lakhs of citizens in the country, Sharma, his family and wedding guests queued up outside banks and ATMs for new legal tender. Five years on, Sharma revisits the note ban with Madmast on their song “Kaisi Ye Maaya,” a seething take on materialism and consumerism as well. The band says in a statement, “This song is our personal middle finger to a society that’ll cut down a forest to make swanky furniture and fill the land with morbid remains of fast fashion. Where morals are shifty and truth needs to be wrapped in a shiny lie to sell it.”
Ushered in by keyboardist Nishant Nair’s synth work, “Kaisi Ye Maaya” locks into an aptly hard-hitting rhythm, courtesy of bassist Anish Nair, guitarist Keshav Parthasarathy and drummer Saurav Datta. Amidst Sharma’s acerbic lyrics, Madmast also works in a spoken-word section. The vocalist says he took inspiration from the Hindi play Oka, Boka, Tiloka. In the tension-building bridge, Sharma speaks about how a rural town rich in natural resources is torn down to serve corporate interests, abetted wholly by the country’s lawmakers.
While demonetization remains the relevant jumping point, Madmast uses it to talk about greed, corruption and the unending need to accumulate wealth. “Do not get me wrong, I am greedy too, we all are, in varying degrees, that’s how it is. Greed is good, but if you are willing to kill, loot, lie and manipulate a whole bunch of people to satiate it, is when it all goes wrong,” Sharma says.
The band reunited with video production house Semicolon Films and director Vidar Joshi for the video to “Kaisi Ye Maaya,” performing the song along with animation and VFX flourishes. Joshi had worked on the band’s previous music videos, “Ae Dil” and “Aaj Phir Tera.” While those were sonically and thematically less intense, “Kaisi Ye Maaya” leads with socio-political commentary.
It might invite some criticism about how artists should stick to art rather than comment on politics, but Sharma is ready for it. He says, “If Madmast’s song offends you, that’s your problem, deal with it. Art is the most primitive instrument of storytelling, we are just telling a story, one might like it or not like it. We are just doing what we like. Period.”
Watch the video for “Kaisi Ye Maaya” below.