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Women of Indian Rock: Monica Dogra

The Ganesh Talkies frontwoman Suyasha Sengupta on electronic duo Shaa’ir + Func’s lead vocalist and songwriter

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Suyasha Sengupta Mar 18, 2015
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Monica Dogra Photo: Ashish Shah. All clothes by Tommy Hilfiger from Spring. Summer 2015. Necklace, pendant, chain and palm cuffs all by Kichu

Monica Dogra Photo: Ashish Shah.
All clothes by Tommy Hilfiger from Spring. Summer 2015. Necklace, pendant, chain and palm cuffs all by Kichu

I chanced upon Shaa’ir+Func’s video “Oops” as a teenager. I saw it on television one day and it was impossible for me to get the song out of my head for weeks after that. My knowledge of the independent music scene in India was rather limited back then and I remember being smitten by Monica Dogra because she seemed so effortlessly cool, and even more so because she was bringing something so new to the table, exploring a space which no Indian frontwoman had ventured into before.

Women can be strong and still be sexy, they don’t always have to be doe-eyed and coy. When you’re watching her on stage, you are charmed by her fierceness and also her ability to be so graceful at the same time. It’s not easy being a woman in a scene, which is primarily dominated by men. You tend to either suppress your feminine energy completely or you overuse it and sexualize yourself, sell yourself as a sex object. Monica Dogra finds the balance between the two so well and that’s such an admirable quality to have.

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I got to see two very different sides of her as an artist at last year’s NH7 Weekender in Kolkata and though it will take me a little more time to warm up to her aesthetics for her solo project, she proved on the second day of the festival with Shaa’ir+Func why she is still my favorite. She simply owns the stage and her audience, every time!

The Ganesh Talkies participated in a competition organized by Converse in 2012 for which she was one of the judges. It was nerve-wracking for me to play my songs in front of someone who I have looked up to. I feel embarrassed now thinking of how tongue-tied and awkward we were around her because, well, you know, Monica Dogra is not just another woman, she is a goddess!

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