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Shantanu Moitra, Usha Uthup And La Pongal Get Together

For the second season of Coke [email protected], composer Moitra tweaks a Tamil folk song by Chennai band La Pongal that also features vocalist Uthup

Rolling Stone IN Jul 05, 2012
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(from l-r) La Pongal vocalist Anthony Daasan, Usha Uthup and composer                     Shantanu Moitra

When we first saw La Pongal perform in Ooty, we knew that they were a band that would soon find themselves under the spotlight. This month, the Chennai folk band make their television debut on season 2 of Coke [email protected], collaborating with Hindi film composer Shantanu Moitra and Kolkata-based vocalist Usha Uthup. “It’s interesting how this whole collaboration fell in place. Shantanu got in touch with me to play drums for him for his episode and simultaneously, MTV got in touch with La Pongal to collaborate with Shantanu,” says Darbuka Siva, La Pongal’s frontman and bassist.

Moitra was first introduced to La Pongal by vocalist Bonnie Chakraborty of the now defunct experimental Baul music band, Oikyotaan, from Chennai. Siva had started off his career as a percussionist with Oikyotaan. “The reason why I was instantly drawn to La Pongal was because they were unlike any other band in Chennai” says Moitra, “They weren’t doing just rock and metal. They were doing traditional folk music and incorporating rock and jazz into it.”


La Pongal frontman Darbuka Siva

No stranger to collaborations or fusion, Moitra was completely at home working on a harvest song titled “Vandiyila Nellu Varum”, from La Pongal’s debut album. “If you close your eyes and listen to the track you can see the sea, coconut trees and the track reflects a state of happiness and innocence that is rare to find these days,” says Moitra. The composer also scored a new section in the La Pongal track that would feature Uthup.  “She never imagined that I would pitch a collaboration with a folk band,” says Moitra of Uthup. After toying with the idea of lyrics in Hindi, English, Malayalam and Tamil, all of which Uthup is extremely comfortable with, Moitra finally settled on Tamil.  

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 The Coke [email protected] episode that will include five tracks by Moitra including the La Pongal-Usha Uthup collaboration has been a huge learning curve, the composer tells us. “It was also a great break from the multitracking recording process at a studio where everybody just gets to record separately and leaves. There is no exchange of ideas. This experience brought us all back together in one place like the old days,” says Moitra.

 Coke [email protected] Season 2 kicks off on July 7, at 7pm.


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