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Watch Dastaan LIVE’s Stirring Take on Global Conflict with ‘Mat Ro Bachche’

The New Delhi art-rock group adapt poetry by Faiz Ahmed Faiz and use shadow puppetry to tell a timely story

Anurag Tagat Aug 08, 2019

New Delhi-based art-rock project Dastaan LIVE. Photo: Courtesy of the artist

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New Delhi art-rock project Dastaan LIVE’s debut release “Mat Ro Bachche” comes as a coincidental but necessary voice from India’s independent music circuit, ever relevant in today’s socio-political climate.

Founded by guitarist-vocalist Sumant Balakrishnan (from rock bands like NokNok and Barefaced Liar) and bassist Anirban Ghosh (from rock act Oritus and metal band Prestorika), Dastaan LIVE adapt Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s poem “Falastini Bachche Ke Liye Lori” for a rousing, psychedelic song built around the frame of a gentle yet despairing lullaby. Ghosh says, “The story goes that Faiz penned this poem while he was visiting Beirut in 1980 and Israeli gunships were raining fire from the skies, targeting civilians, including those living in Palestinian refugee camps.” Balakrishnan adds, “The timing of this video is entirely coincidental. No one in this country could have envisioned the events that have unfolded in the manner that they have in the last few weeks.”

Formed in 2016 and actively performing since 2018 with varying live formats that expand up to 14 members including tech crew, the project called on filmmakers Anant Raina and Shupriyo Maitra earlier this year and started work on the video. Over the span of nearly nine minutes, “Mat Ro Bachche” sheds light on the reality of conflict zones, with a girl child at the center. The storyboarding and animation is made by Himachal Pradesh-based artist Ikroop Sandhu.

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Leading through striking crescendos and a solid rhythm section (aided by drummer Nikhil Vasudevan, from ska band The Ska Vengers), news clippings of genocide and armed strife in places ranging from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Palestine, Ireland and Cambodia to Manipur and Sikkim appear towards the end.

There’s more releases planned and a national tour on the cards, with a show in Goa confirmed so far. While this first release presents an evocative journey, Dastaan LIVE, as the name suggests, are perhaps best experienced at their performances. Balakrishnan says, “Our live show plays more like an uninterrupted documentary film. Since there are no gaps in the show, the feeling of tension and release is much more immediate and the thrill more visceral.”

Ghosh adds that where they take this project also matters. “We are also looking for ways to make this show more accessible to people across India, particularly in smaller cities and rural areas and are hoping to cut across barriers of religions, caste, creed and socio-economic backgrounds with our content.”

Watch the video for “Mat Ro Bachche” below. 

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