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Watch: New documentary on the Indian Metal Scene

Mehr Singh outlines a brief history and recent memorable moments in Indian metal with ‘Yeh Hai Metal’

Anurag Tagat Aug 02, 2013
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(Far right) Mehr Singh with members of Mumbai metal band Bhayanak Maut. Photo: Courtesy of Mehr Singh

(Far right) Mehr Singh with members of Mumbai metal band Bhayanak Maut. Photo: Courtesy of Mehr Singh

Broken camera lenses and tripods, last minute interviews with metalheads at an airport and letting Indian metal bands ramble on and crack terrible jokes [only to be later edited out] were all part of Delhi filmmaker Mehr Singh’s experience while completing her final project at Symbiosis Institute of Design in Pune, where she pursued a course in film and design last year.

The result was a 34-minute-long documentary on the Indian metal scene, titled Yeh Hai Metal that gives viewers a look into the timeline of Indian metal in the last three years, which was also Singh’s proper introduction to the homegrown metal scene. Says Singh, the one-person crew behind the documentary, “Initially, I wanted to make a documentary on the entire indie scene, but it was too vast. I just wanted to do something around music, and metal was not covered much.” Singh adds, “Most of all, I wanted to shock the jury members in my college, since the rest of my classmates were doing artsy stuff.”

Yeh Hai Metal does subvert the perceived shock value that metal has ”“ from Rohit P-Man Pereira comparing metal to meat to Scribe’s whacky performances to eccentric fans (read Bling Uncle) on stage at the Rolling Stone Metal Awards 2010. As planned, Singh certainly got a different response when she submitted her documentary. The jury members were intrigued and some even said they would like to go catch a metal gig.

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Singh, in turn, was daunted at first to just approach metal bands to speak to her, but later found they were much more willing to talk about the genre than she had imagined. “There were hardly any gigs when I was shooting [between February and March 2012]. But thankfully, bands let me sit in on their jams and speak to them,” says Singh.

While shooting for the first edition of Bacardi NH7 Weekender in 2010 for an arts and lifestyle website, Singh attended her first metal gig, becoming an instant fan of bands like Bhayanak Maut, Goddess Gagged, Noiseware, Demonic Resurrection and Scribe. Singh says she’s no stranger to the all-girl moshpits Scribe calls for at their shows. She remembers the hardcore band’s October 2011 gig at Blue Frog, Mumbai, saying, “I just gave my camera to Roycin [D’Souza, photographer] and started moshing.” She was just as tempted at Scribe’s more recent gig in Delhi, but passed on account of not wanting to break another camera lens.

Singh’s other connection with Scribe is courtesy bassist Srinivas Sunderrajan aka Vaas, at the latter’s film production company Enter Guerilla, where Singh interned in April 2011. Says Singh, “Vaas put me in touch with all these people [for the documentary] and gave me a lot of credibility.” Sunderrajan says the documentary is an achievement for a college student and documenting the scene is necessary. “It’s a nice way to get all these bands together, but the timelines are huge to do something bigger. The metal scene and the indie scene in general are now much more different than what is in the documentary. And if I had to do it when I started out [as a filmmaker], bands like AFS [Acquired Funk Syndrome] and Chaos Theory would be urban legends and only Zero was the all-originals band.”

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Singh admits she couldn’t cover the North East metal scene as much as she wanted to, and time and money were the biggest constraints. She had considered screenings and approached a TV channel to air the documentary, but talks fell through. “I actually put out the trailer [in March] to get some work, but nothing much happened.” Indian metal zine Metalbase did approach Singh to promote the film, which led to the release on July 31st. Singh, who now works as a freelance filmmaker in Delhi, is happy that Yeh Hai Metal went well beyond her expectations. “I think the biggest surprise was that I managed to finish the film. All my friends were like, ”˜Finally, Mehr!’”


Watch Yeh Hai Metal here:

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