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Watch: The Ska Vengers “Badda”

The Delhi band releases politically charged video that references farmer suicides in Maharashtra and military-led violence in North East India

Rolling Stone India Feb 26, 2015
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The Ska Vengers founding member and keyboardist Stefan Kaye tells us that he received quite a few death threats last year after his band released an animation video for their track “Modi, A Message To You.” The video took down the then Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, just ahead of the Assembly Elections. Says Kaye, “Whether we are making a difference, I don’t know. But I can’t say we didn’t try. If we didn’t ruffle any feathers at all, it would be a failure on our part.” This is also why they’ve released yet another provocative video for their song “Badda.”

The new video, which talks about censorship and manipulation of news media, is an Eighties nostalgia trip that includes clever references to popular laundry detergent and chocolate advertisements. Towards the end, it also features a news ticker and still images that remind viewers of farmer suicides in Maharashtra and violence in North East India involving the Indian armed forces among other issues. Says Kaye, “We have become increasingly aware of the bias in the media about a lot of things which weren’t getting reported, or things that were getting reported but have an obvious bias. We wanted to reflect that from the perspective of something which is old, like the Doordarshan channel, which represents an era where the state’s broadcasting had no competition, so the government could do what the hell they wanted, and give it a kind of dystopian spin, like how things could be nowadays.”

A still from Ska Vengers' controversial video

A still from Ska Vengers’ controversial video

The band expects some dissent from the “minority,” which has been hating on them, even though the video was made before BJP came to power and completed it only recently. Says Kaye, “We will be criticized by the Modiphiles by calling us AAPtards, anti-nationals, heretics and other clichéd names like liberal idiots or secularists. But the fact is, we were reflecting a lot of occurrences that have happened under the Congress but there is no reason to think things will be any better under BJP. On the converse, there is every indication that things are getting far worse.”

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The delay in the release of this video, which was produced in 2014, was for a number of reasons including clearance from the Central Board of Film Classification. Explains Kaye, “As you know, the Central Board of Film Classification staff is being replaced by people who are affiliated to RSS and BJP. So of course, the first thing any despot will do when he gets into power is control the media.”  Aside from this recent delay, Kaye informs that a lot of time was spent in sourcing news footage. The video, shot in Mumbai and Delhi, was made by Babblefish productions and conceptualized by Mumbai-based Khush Badhwar.

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