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Swarathma Stand Up for Another Cause

Band look to create awareness about the national water crisis with new video

Deepti Unni Jun 10, 2010

Bengaluru-based folk rockers Swarathma have built themselves a reputation for social consciousness with their many outreach initiatives, the last of which was the Action Replay series of concerts where the band offered to play one free concert for every paid concert in unusual settings ”“ from leprosy rehabilitation centres to orphanages. Now taking their enterprise one step further, the band have pledged their support to the national water crisis with their new video for the song ”˜Pyaasi.’

In their effort, the band have joined hands with the Global Water Council (GWC), Deloitte, the Gibson Foundation and the Naandi Foundation who are all working together on the same cause. “We felt like we wanted to do a video that communicated the water scarcity issue without being preachy, just something that would help continue a dialogue and let people understand just how serious the issue is. That’s why we, six months we sat down and thought we might create a music video around to tell people the story of this really scary statistic which is that one out of every seven Indians doesn’t have access to clean drinking water,” says Sweta Daga, the director of communications at GWC.

The video tells an eloquent tale of contrasts in its short length. Shot entirely in Rajasthan, it juxtaposes the story of a little village girl who has to negotiate locked taps and dry wells and trek across the desert for a single pot of water while the Swarathma boys, playing unlikely swimsuit models, frolic in a swimming pool in an exclusive hotel overlooking the desert. “The part that we were really interested in was to portray the attitude of a generation of which we are all a part, for whom water means no more than a tap, a shower, a bottle of Bisleri or an Aquaguard switch,” says Swarathma bassist Jishnu Dasgupta. “Growing up in the fortunate setting of a stable home with an income, water has never really been a problem for us as for a lot of people, which is why it is difficult to identify with such a statistic. So through this video, we would like to bring about awareness about the issue, but not to take a stand and say that ”˜we are right and do it our way’ because we are just as unaware as everyone else.” “We’ve had this song for about three, three and a half years now,” says vocalist and frontman Vasu Dixit. “As a small band coming from Bengaluru, we were always looking out for funds to make a video so when the Gibson Foundation approached us and said they were planning to make a music video based on water, in association with GWC, we said ”˜Why not?’ We wanted to do something with a music video but one with a message so we were all open to it, that’s how we started.” The video also has the support of filmmaker Shekhar Kapoor, who’s a board member of the GWC, and Shubha Mudgal, who lent her vocals to the song, and they’re hoping that the inclusion of these celebrated artists will extend the reach of the video and its message.

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Dixit explains how he happened to write the song in the first place. “I was on a train to Bangalore when I overheard a conversation between my co-passengers ”“ an old woman and two youngsters who were debating the Cauvery issue. Listening to them fighting, the old lady said, ”˜Have you ever stopped to think what the river would say about this constant fighting over her water?’ and that silenced the two boys instantly.” Inspired, Dixit wrote the song as a river’s lament which the consortium found suited the concept of the video perfectly. “Swarathma has always believed that our music has a larger purpose and we’re just really happy to get an opportunity to lend our voice to a cause we believe in,” concludes Dixit.

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