A Very Good Cause. Project Uttham. and Agam and Eka
By Rohan Thomas
After all, it was for a good cause……
After a hard week of labour, I was looking through the internet, to find something to go to that weekend. After an hour of futile research, I came across a charity event, Project Utthan, featuring the bands, Eka and Agam, along with an Odissi dance and the launch of a music album, to be held at Mount Carmel College. I had heard of Agam before, so I decided to give the concert a shot.
After clocking off early from work, I reached the venue at seven in the evening i.e. I had missed half the show, but Agam and Eka were yet to take stage, which was what I was looking forward to. I grabbed a seat in the balcony, and braced myself for the night to come.
Starting their gig, with a mantra, Agam jumped into a Dream Theatre like groove, with a tad bit of Mother Jane. The second song began with a Led Zeppelin riff, amalgamated with Hindustani vocals and a Marty Friedman-ish solo with Indian elements. Just listening to the first two songs made me realize, why this band was an underground rage and why they had made an appearance on MTV Coke Studio. Their sheer genius and eccentric creativity, along with the singer’s vocal brilliance and humourous frontmanship are the reasons why they are on the forefront of the contemporary Indian rock scene. They also played a Malayalam song, “The Boat Song”, paying tribute to the boat race culture that the state is famous for. The song was very joyful, with confetti all over the place and kids clapping. They then played the A.R.Rahman classic “Dil Se”, for which the crowd went berserk. In my opinion, the cover was not worthy of the standards which Agam had created. The song needed better instrumentation, especially the drumming. Another song which, I felt, was out of place was the song, in which they used traditional South Indian dance beats (think Chinta Ta Chita Chita from Rowdy Rathore). The song was really good, but it did not fall into place with the set list that evening. Nevertheless, it was a crowd pleaser and a lot of kids were dancing to this song. The highlight of their gig was the song they played, right before the encore. Starting with a Shaayari, the song breathed a new life into the crowd. I observed that the singer was far ahead of the other instrumentalists, in terms of technical proficiency. The lead guitarist, who is really good for normal standards, just could not keep up with the singer while they were doing the Jugalbandi. The song ended with a drum solo and they closed their set with a blistering version of the Rahman hit “Hamma Hamma”.
After a scintillating performance by Agam, came Eka. If there is one word to describe these guys, it would be “ENERGY”. The band, well in their thirties, had the energy of twenty year olds en route to super stardom. Their interaction with the crowd was top notch. After their intro, which was very Pink Floydish, they kicked into a disco version of the evergreen “Ye Shaam Mastani” followed by “Rock On’ which really brought the crowd on their feet. The keyboard solo was something that Jon Lord would be proud of, and the keyboard-guitar synchronization was amazing. They then jumped into the comical “Nimbu Paani”, after which they played the rock anthem “Sadda Haq”.By this time, all people, young and old, were on the floor dancing and singing. Benny played a keyboard solo, which sounded very Yanni-inspired. They then played one of their own compositions, Chalte Jaana, in tribute to the kids, telling them never to give up, even if the entire world was against them. After playing a couple of other Bollywood numbers, they played Bhaag DK Bose, which was the one thing that did not fit into the event. The song is amazing, but not for children’s event held in a college. They then played Vande Maataram, and the guitarist (who is also the singer) showed the world his magic on the fretboard. Very Slash-inspired, the solo was brilliant. They closed their set with “Ajab Si” off the movie “Om Shanti Om”, as a special number for the women of Bangalore. The band revealed their love for the city and how the city had treated them with utmost hospitality. They were absolutely brilliant, with the way they handled the crowd, especially the bass player.
I would like to mention the group that organized the event that is the Cartman’s (Centre for Action, Research & Technology for Man, Animal & Nature) society. They are are a team of young IT professionals committed to the cause of improving education standards for underprivileged children, for which we they conceptualized Project Utthan. The proceedings for the event will go to building a house for the underprivileged. I was shocked to find out that album that was launched that evening, had the children as musicians, with the music composed by Angel Roman of ”Ragini MMS” fame. My respect increased for this particular NGO, when I found out the blood, sweat and tears they had shed, to organize this event, in order to provide basic shelter for the homeless kids, for whom they had already provided first class English medium education. Just seeing, the expression of joy and celebration on the faces of the kids, were enough to bring tears to the eyes of the most hard-hearted humans .Kudos, to their team, for this selfless act of compassion. I urge each and every one who reads this article to help these people achieve their goal to foster Man-Animal-Nature relationship, prevention of cruelty to animals, protection of environment from pollution, conservation of ecology, inculcation of spiritual values in our approach to animals and nature, promoting vegetarianism and animal welfare work and giving a life to underprivileged children. It was extremely pleasant for me to know, that there are people, who genuinely care about society and the underprivileged, to compensate for those fraudsters, who hide their selfish, greedy intentions, behind the veil of charity and compassion